3 Dec 2023

23 Nov 23 - A Bonus Tick On A DWT Brownsea Members Day

Brownsea Island closes for the winter at the end of October school holiday. This allows the National Trust & Dorset Wildlife Trust to get on with essential maintenance work on the island. However, there are a few days when the island is open for visitors e.g. the DWT Members Days. As a volunteer, I get the chance to visit on some of these days to show the members the Birds on the lagoon and to get involved with general public engagement. It's also an excuse to have a look at the lagoon over the winter. There was a reasonable selection of Waders on the lagoon to show to the members. But as the tides were heading to neap tides, many Waders were roosting closer to their preferred feeding grounds, rather than on the lagoon.

I spent most of the day in the Avocet hide talking to members and showing them the Spoonbills, Waders & Ducks on the lagoon and telling them how to identify them and various other snippets of information. Finally, in mid-afternoon we had a change over with volunteers in the hides and I decided to have a wander around other parts of the DWT reserve. There was time for a quick visit to the Lake hide, which confirmed there was nothing on the lakes, other than a couple of Mallards & a couple of Canada Geese. Then I spotted this Western Conifer Seed Bug on one of the windows. It's a species I've seen photos of on a number of occasions from the Weymouth area, but it was a Tick for me.
Western Conifer Seed Bug: This is an introduced Bug from North America that occurs to the West of the Rocky Mountains from California to British Columbia and as far East as Idaho & Nevada. In recent times, it has expanded its range to Eastern North America and it has been introduced to the UK, parts Europe, Chile & Argentina through imported timber products
I walked off the reserve with one of the other volunteers & as we had a few minutes to spare, we decided to walk up to look for some more Red Squirrels by the church. In normally don't walk up to this area, as it's usually very disturbed by visitors in the summer. But it was quiet today as the members were heading to the quay for their boat. As expected, there were several Red Squirrels in the area. But as we heading off the reserve to find the gentle path to the area, we saw this female Mallard right next to the path & typical for Mallards in this area, she was very tame & approachable.
Mallard: Female
It soon became clear, why she was particularly approachable as she wasn't on her own. She had three youngsters in tow & this was late Nov and not early June. I hope there is a mild winter which will increase their chances of survival.
Mallard: This should be a photo from June, not late Nov
The members had a four hour trip onto Brownsea & there has been a lot of positive feedback to the DWT team from the members. It had been a good day.

1 Dec 2023

28 Nov 23 - Studland Wings - Part Three

The third in the trilogy from Studland from Jerry's Point on the vague theme of wings. This Great Northern Diver was just off Jerry's Point & I couldn't resist taking a few photos.
Great Northern Diver: I like their scaly wing coverts when I get to see them close
Great Northern Diver
Great Northern Diver

29 Nov 2023

28 Nov 23 - Studland Wings - Part Two

There has been a Slavonian Grebe around Jerry's Point, Studland for over a week & finally it was close enough for some photos on nice still & dunny conditions.
Slavonian Grebe: Showing the clean well-demarked facial pattern
Slavonian Grebe: Another view of the clean-cut facial pattern which curves up behind the eye, before finally turning down
Slavonian Grebe: Slavonian Grebes have a small pale patch at the base of the bill, but they are rarely close enough to be able to see this
Slavonian Grebe: Showing the classic low & flat head shape and facial pattern and the stout bill
Slavonian Grebe: The sizes in the field states they are about ten percent larger than Black-necked Grebe, but realistically that is of little use without a lot of experience of judging their size in the field, unless you get to see both species together. However, the Great Crested Grebes can sometimes be used to judge their size
Slavonian Grebe: The peak of the head is at the rear of the crown
Slavonian Grebe
Slavonian Grebe
Slavonian Grebe: The crown looks more puffed up now as it was taking a break from diving
Slavonian Grebe
Slavonian Grebe
Slavonian Grebe: Despite seeing 242 Slavonian Grebe bird days & 5501 Black-necked Grebe bird days around Studland over the years, I've only seen a Slavonian Grebe fly once & I've yet to see a Black-necked Grebe fly: they just swim to move around & will dive if they feel threatened
Slavonian Grebe: They are separable in flight or if they flap their wings, as the white is restricted to the secondaries on Slavonian Grebes, but the white continues onto most of the primaries on Black-necked Grebes. But this isn't a particularly useful feature when they won't fly at Studland & they are mainly nocturnal migrants
Slavonian Grebe: Another wing shot
Finally, a Black-necked Grebe for comparison which shows the peak of the head is above the eye, the black clearly curving below & behind the eye with the black fading into the white facial pattern and a thinner bill. They always look like large Dabchicks to me with shorter looking bodies and proportionally thinner necks, whereas, Slavonian Grebes look like small Great Crested Grebes, with longer bodies, proportionally thicker necks, a lower crown, the black curving up behind the eye before turning down with a cleaner-cut facial pattern & thicker bills.
Black-necked Grebe: Jerry's Point (10 Jan 22)

28 Nov 2023

28 Nov 23 - Studland Wings - Part One

I had a good look around the South Haven part of the Studland Peninsula on the morning of 25 Nov, but I didn't see much of note beyond two Great Northern Divers, a Red-throated Diver, a Slavonian Grebe and a very distant Black-necked Grebe. So, it was a bit galling to find that there had been a Black-throated Diver and a Long-tailed Duck seen that afternoon. Albeit, I was watching the American Golden Plover at Lodmoor that afternoon, so I can't complain too much.

I did see the Long-tailed Duck from the Brands Bay hide, when it popped into view briefly just beyond Redhorn Quay on the afternoon of 27 Nov, but it was a long way off & pelting down with rain at the time. This morning, it reappeared from behind Redhorn Quay & then hung around in Brands Bay, but it was about one kilometre away from the hide. Later in the morning, I was counting the Great Crested grebes & Red-breasted Mergansers at Jerry's Point, South Haven, when it dropped in close to the point. I paused the count to get some photos. It was a good thing that I did as within a couple of minutes, it was flying back towards Brands Bay again. It wasn't clear what disturbed in from Brands Bay, but it does seem to quickly fly when disturbed and then rapidly move on again.
Long-tailed Duck: Female
Long-tailed Duck: There are a less than annual species at Studland, but in the last five years they have become more regular
Long-tailed Duck: This would make a good mystery photo
Long-tailed Duck: With a photo-bombing Common Seal
Long-tailed Duck: A closer crop of the last photo
Long-tailed Duck: A final flight shot as it continued off in the direction of Brands Bay

27 Nov 2023

9 Sep 23 - The Brown Blue

It was good to see my first Brown Argus of the year on Quarry Ledge at St Aldhelms. Despite its brown colouration, it is one of the UK Blue Butterflies.
Brown Argus
Brown Argus: There is a hint of blue in this individual. Swanage (7 Aug 14)
Brown Argus: A better underwing shot. Harmans Cross (14 Aug 18)

25 Nov 2023

8 Sep 23 - A Garden Hornet Hoverfly

I was pleased to see and photograph this Hornet Hoverfly around my house. They are one of the more distinctive Hoverflies with their large size and distinctive orange patch on their head.
Hornet Hoverfly

1 Nov 2023

1 Nov 23 - November Butterflies

The weather looked OK for an interesting seawatch off the Isle of Purbeck coastline and I decided to join my local Birding mate, James Leaver, at Peveril Point at Swanage. I was hoping for a Leach's Storm-petrel as there was a strong onshore wind as a low came in from the Atlantic. Unfortunately, it didn't produce much of note on the sea in about three hours of watching. A Red-throated Diver East and then into Swanage Bay & five Golden Plovers West & in were the highlights.
A tatty Painted Lady enjoying the sun
But as I walked down to the point, I found a little sun trap where there was a small hollow in the ground. A tatty Painted Lady & a Red Admiral were enjoying the November sun. There may not be too many more days left this year to see either, especially the former species.
This Red Admiral was only a few inches from the Painted Lady: The Autumn isn't over yet
As I was writing this Blog Post, there was a Speckled Wood in my garden: my third Butterfly for November.