Birds, Leps, Observations & Generalities - the images and ramblings of Mark Skevington. Sometimes.

Friday, 29 April 2011

A grand day out

After emptying the moth traps this morning (not sure 'emptying' is the right word given that there was only 4 moths of 3 sp.) I got out and about and spent the day flitting from one site to another in the county, enjoying some good company on the way and seeing some nice things. Most importantly, I avoided that wedding bollocks.

Started off at Birstall Meadows. Hadn't even got my bins out of the car when Dave Gray pulled up for a like-minded squint around the area. Nothing too exciting here though, aside from a couple of Common Sandpipers and the LRPs again. We then had a quick look around the horse fields - nothing there either, before nipping over to Watermead CP South. Immediately picked up a few Swifts, a City Yeartick, but no sign of any terns and the conditions were not really suitable for any potential movement either. We had a good walk around but nothing else noteworthy, apart from the resident drake Red-crested Pochard and a plastic Snow Goose.

Next we headed across to Aylestone Meadows. Despite some thorough scanning of the horse fields and meadows, no sign of anything interesting (ie no Wheatears, Whinchats or Ouzels!). I did pick up Linnet for the City Yearlist though. Otherwise the most exciting thing was a Fox openly foraging and sitting by a den entrance with three playful cubs. Always too distant for proper shots, though I tried at full optical zoom and then realised the digital zoom went up to x96 (but with expected deterioration of image). Better than nothing though (but the cub shots were too crap).

By now it was early afternoon and the sun was breaking through. I decided that it was time to head east whilst Dave headed back to Wanlip. I decided to go to Ketton Quarry, but drove along the Stockerston road to have a quick look at Eyebrook on the way. Driving along the gated track a large raptor drifted low over the field and perched on a fence post. This was some way from the reservoir, but it was an Osprey. I scoped it for a few minutes but it was going nowhere, just sitting there with the sun on its back. I carried on to the reservoir and bumped into Andy Mackay who was just scoping a superb full breeding plumaged Slavonian Grebe. I got set up and, after a couple of minutes got great views of this superb bird. A fair few Common Terns kierricking up and down the res, and an odd 'flock' of 33 Great Crested Grebes all bunched up in one small area. Not a lot else though, so off to Ketton. Andy decided this was as good an idea as any and came along.

By the time we got there it was warmer and the sun was trying, but it was windy. No sign of any snakes or lizards in the usual area, though I picked up a single Grizzled Skipper which was nice.

Walking around the reserve yielded no further Grizzled and no Dingy Skippers, and not a lot else flying either other than a couple of Common Heaths. I did manage to pot up a couple of micros, with the best being Pancalia leuwenhoekella which I'll get a shot of tomorrow along with a couple of other bits. The Manx Loaghtan sheep were in the donkey paddock, but they didn't bother us whilst we had a mooch about. I lifted a tin sheet expecting nothing underneath, but just saw a small tail under an adjacent rock. After a bit if careful coaxing we got brief but superb views of a juvenile Adder. Way too fast for any shots and hard to accurately estimate the size, maybe 25cm long at most but much smaller in body size. Usually these are born in the late summer / early autumn, so this would have overwintered. No idea how long it takes to reach adulthood.

Next we had a mooch about looking for Scarlet Tiger caterpillars, finding one which looked pretty much full grown. This was in a different area to the one I found a couple of weeks ago so definitely worth searching for adults this year. The other main interest came in the form of a very squawky Jay that was definitely riled by something, a flyover pair of Ravens, and later a Raven going back the other way with a pair of Peregrines not far behind. Superb. Also a few plants worth mentioning ..

Lords and Ladies

White Briony

Japanese Knotweed - despite the bext efforts of the trust this parasite persists.

By now it was late afternoon and time to head home. Had the conditions have been better I'd have been up for some mothing tonight. But they're not. I decided to have another quick look at Watermead CP South - still no terns. I also had a look around Birstall Lodge farm. No City Yearlist ticks but I found a plant that shouldn't be growing wild along a rough bridle track alongside more expected fare.

Greater Periwinkle

Common Vetch

No comments: