Monday, June 28, 2010

Emmington - Oxfordshire

Two surveys down for June and one to go! Over lunchtime today I completed a Wider Countryside Butterfly Survey on my BTO BBS 1km square SP7402 at Emmington in Oxfordshire. During the survey the following butterflies were seen and recorded on the WCBS website -

• Meadow Brown (Maniola jurtina); 83

• Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta); 1

• Small Tortoiseshell (Aglais urticae); 28

• Peacock (Inachis io); 1

• Large Skipper (Ochlodes sylvanus); 32

• Speckled Wood (Pararge aegeria); 2

• Marbled White (Melanargia galathea); 1

• Ringlet (Aphantopus hyperantus); 13

Only one additional adult butterfly was observed outside of the survey:

• Common Blue (Polyommatus icarus); 1

However, I did find some caterpillars of the Peacock (Inachis io) butterfly in one of the many Stinging Nettle (Urtica dioica) patches on the survey route.

And, finally for today, a good confirmed breeding record for Whitethroat (Sylvia communis); one bird carrying food (insect) in its beak.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Rushbeds Wood and Lapland Farm - Buckinghamshire

Sunday 27th and I completed my last summer TTV survey on Tetrad SP61S for the BTO Bird Atlas 2007-11. Not sure it was the best day to carry out the survey given that the temperature ranged from 20° to 27°C with 100% sun. However, I had no choice.

During the timed survey I counted 23 bird species and the numbers of each species have now been loaded to the BTO website. I was pleased to be able to obtain confirmed breeding records for Wren (Troglodytes troglodytes), Blackcap (Sylvia atricapilla) and Blue Tit (Cyanistes caeruleus).

On the botanical side it was great to see the fields of Lapland Farm looking so good and floristically rich.

Lapland Farm

Lapland Farm

Of note for me were the numbers of Common Spotted-orchid (Dactylorhiza fuchsia) in flower. Significant numbers seen over Lapland Farm with smaller numbers scattered throughout the Wood.

Common Spotted-orchid (Dactylorhiza fuchsia)

Common Spotted-orchid (Dactylorhiza fuchsia)

Given the conditions the butterflies put on a good show with the following species on the wing:

• Meadow Brown (Maniola jurtina); 10+

• Small Heath (Coenonympha pamphilus); 1

• Small Tortoiseshell (Aglais urticae); 1

• Common Blue (Polyommatus icarus); 1

• Large Skipper (Ochlodes sylvanus); 10+

• Speckled Wood (Pararge aegeria); 10+

• Marbled White (Melanargia galathea); 20+ all at Lapland Farm

• Ringlet (Aphantopus hyperantus); 20+

• Green-veined White (Pieris napi); 1

Shirburn Hill - Oxfordshire

Yesterday was a day for father and son bonding (June 26th 2010) with Peter and I going for a walk over Shirburn Hill. The weather was hot at 26°C in the shade and with 70% sun during the trek.

On this trip Peter was the photographer and some of his shots are included below.

Craneflies mating (Tipulidae) - id not known
SteveT from iSpot suggests these are Spotted Crane-fly (Nephrotoma appendiculata)

The Box 'Wood' (Buxus sempervirens) 'flowing' down the hill

Biting Stonecrop (Sedum acre)

Wild Thyme (Thymus polytrichus) and Common Rock-rose (Helianthemum nummularium)

Wild Candytuft (Iberis amara)

Given the conditions the butterflies put on a good show with the following species on the wing:

• Meadow Brown (Maniola jurtina); 20+

• Small Heath (Coenonympha pamphilus); 20+

• Small Tortoiseshell (Aglais urticae); 3

• Common Blue (Polyommatus icarus); 2

• Large Skipper (Ochlodes sylvanus); 2

• Small Skipper (Thymelicus sylvestris); 1

• Speckled Wood (Pararge aegeria); 3

• Marbled White (Melanargia galathea); 6

• Ringlet (Aphantopus hyperantus); 2

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Lea Park, Thame, Oxfordshire

A sweltering week in the garden; however, the juvenile Common Frogs (Rana temporaria) seem to be enjoying life in the pond and a further 3 Small Tortoiseshell butterflies (Aglais urticae) were seen. It was also great to watch the activity around the bee nesting tubes. I think all the bees seen were Leaf-Cutter Bees (probably a species of Megachile) with at least 2 seen flying with cut leaf fragments. Attempted to take some photographs but failed! The only half decent shot is included below. I like the little face peering out of one of the tubes. Hopefully an illusion!!!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Lea Park, Thame, Oxfordshire

I have been a bit lax with patch watching over the last couple of weeks and need to get back on track from this week onwards. If nothing else, I have to do my last BTO BBS survey ( and my last BTO BA TTV survey (, last surveys for this year, by the end of June. I also want to fit in one UKBMS WCBS survey ( by the end of the month as well!

As of today all I have to note is a few items from the garden. Another confirmed breeding record for the TTV with a Blue Tit (Cyanistes caeruleus) seen feeding a recently fledged youngster. The Common Frog (Rana temporaria) tadpoles in the pond are no more. They have changed into miniature versions of their adult future! Some still in the pond while others have started exploring the wider world. Finally, I spotted a fresh Small Tortoiseshell (Aglais urticae) taking nectar from a garden flower. Nothing show stopping but all great to see.

Sunday, June 06, 2010

River Thame valley Chearsley - Buckinghamshire

Between 13:00 and 15:00 today I had another walk in the valley of the River Thame at Chearsley. The main purpose was to see if I could be more certain about the possible True Fox Sedge (Carex vulpina) found on June 1st at SP729099. Using the Carex Plant Crib from the BSBI (, I think it is clear that these plants are Carex otrubae – the common False Fox Sedge. A photograph of the acute ligule is included with this post, as I think it makes the new identification definitive.

I think what is confusing me is the fact that some plants are very robust while others are not and that they all appear to have the same characteristics. The ligule picture is from a robust type. A photograph of a ‘weaker’ plant clump is included as are shots of the stems of both the robust and non-robust types. I will also post all this to iSpot ( to see what the experts think!

Update from miked on iSpot - 'Tricky one, had you considered C. spicata and the hybrids with C. otrubae too? Some of the Carex can be very tricky and need close examinations of fine details, good though you photos are I suspect they are not quite good enough to say. Its clear that it is from the group containing C. otrubae but can't be sure its that exact species.'

However, my walk was not all about sedges as the following were also of interest.


• Small White (Pieris rapae); 2

• Green-veined White (Pieris napi);2

• Orange-tip (Anthocharis cardamines); 1

• Common Blue (Polyommatus icarus); 6

• Large Skipper (Ochlodes sylvanus); 4

Other Insects:

• Damselfly, the Banded Demoiselle (Calopteryx splendens); many ♂ plus slightly lower numbers of ♀. Photographs of a mating pair included with this post.

Banded Demoiselle (Calopteryx splendens); mating pair

Banded Demoiselle (Calopteryx splendens); mating pair

• The small ‘livestock drinking pond’ along the Dad Brook was ‘full’ of fry. I will assume they were Minnow (Phoxinus phoxinus) though I am far from sure!

Saturday, June 05, 2010

Lea Park, Thame, Oxfordshire

A busy day photographing pond life! Peter got some good shots of a mating pair of Large Red Damselflies (Pyrrhosoma nymphula) while his Mum was intrigued to see how quickly the fast developing Common Frog (Rana temporaria) tadpoles were attracted to the new lily!

Large Red Damselflies (Pyrrhosoma nymphula)

Common Frog (Rana temporaria) tadpoles

Friday, June 04, 2010

Emmington - Oxfordshire

The weather was so good today that I took an hour or so out over lunch to complete my first Wider Countryside Butterfly Survey ( of the year. I am conducting the survey on the same 1km Grid Square (SP7402 - Emmington in Oxfordshire) I survey for the BTO Breeding Bird Survey and will attempt to do 6 WCBS visits between now and the end of August.

Butterflies seen and then recorded on the WCBS website:

• Large White (Pieris brassicae); 4

• Small White (Pieris rapae); 6

• Green-veined White (Pieris napi);5

• Orange-tip (Anthocharis cardamines); 5

• Small Copper (Lycaena phlaeas); 4

• Common Blue (Polyommatus icarus); a mating pair

• Peacock (Inachis io); 1

• Speckled Wood (Pararge aegeria); 3

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

River Thame valley around Chearsley and Cuddington - Buckinghamshire

During the afternoon of Tuesday June 1st I enjoyed another walk in the shallow valley of the River Thame; but, this time, the area between Chearsley & Cuddington. There was a light breeze with temperatures between 14°C & 15°C, plus light rain for some of the time and zero sun.

Given the conditions I expected a birding day and so it proved in part. Of the birds, 30 species were seen or heard and subsequently recorded in Bird Track ( Yet again I was able to get a good confirmed breeding record for the Bird Atlas (

• Great spotted woodpecker (Dendrocopos major); 1 recently fledged individual.

Other interesting observations included:


• Damselfly, the Banded Demoiselle (Calopteryx splendens); 3 ♂ plus what I believe were 2 ♀. Two photographs of one female are included with this post; however, I have also sent them to iSpot ( for verification!

Banded Demoiselle (Calopteryx splendens); possible

Banded Demoiselle (Calopteryx splendens); possible

ID of the above confirmed by David at iSpot with the following comment - '..the white false pterostigma near the wingtips confirm that it is a Demoiselle'.

Flora (this could be the star observation of the day or month or year!!):

• Observed some prominent clumps of sedge in one relatively botanically rich, for the area, damp meadow that appears not to have been grazed by cattle since at least the winter. Photographs of the inflorescence are included with this post. The closest I can get to in terms of identification is True Fox Sedge (Carex vulpina). This sedge is not common and one that appears (see map in NBN - ) restricted to the environs of the River Ray locally, with no record for this site’s 10K Grid Square. Another one for iSpot I think!

True Fox Sedge (Carex vulpina); possible

True Fox Sedge (Carex vulpina); possible