Tuesday, August 31
Friday evening - Linford - 3 Common and 2 Green Sandpipers.
Then onto Willen Lake - 1 Oystercatcher, 1 Common and 1 Green Sandpiper.
Saturday early morning - Manor Farm - 1 Green Sandpiper, 1 Snipe flew through, 3 Yellow Wagtails and best of all 2 Common Redstarts.
Then onto Stony Stratford NR, 1 Green Sandpiper was joined by another 3.
Then onto Foxcote Reservoir - 6 Green Sandpipers, 5 Common Sandpipers, 4 Greenshank, 1 juvenile Little Ringed Plover, 2 Hobbies flew through together and star bird was a juvenile Garganey.
Sunday evening - after being away in Kent over night I was very pleased to see the juvenile Kentish Plover was still reported from Eyebrook in the morning. By the time I'd returned from Kent and finally met up with Rob to hitch a ride to Eyebrook, time was running out (another dead Stoat on the road before Olney). We arrived at 1930 and only had about 40 minutes before our scopes were useless in the gloom. But just enough time to enjoy great views of the Kentish Plover which was joined by the Pectoral Sandpiper.
Friday, August 27
So far, an amazing 10,000 people have joined Sir David Attenborough in taking part in the UK’s first ever big butterfly count.
You and your fellow butterfly counters have carried out over 15,000 counts and clocked up an astounding 210,000 individual butterflies and moths. Sightings are still coming in (you have until the end of August) but the main results are already clear.
The Small White and Large White topped the charts but the big surprise was the Gatekeeper, which was only just behind in third place. Although a widespread butterfly, its populations have been hard hit in recent years so the big butterfly count result indicates a turnaround in the Gatekeeper’s fortunes. Your sightings also suggest a welcome return for the Small Tortoiseshell after years of decline.
For more big butterfly count results, including the Top 10 species, please visit our big butterfly count results page.
A big butterfly count thank you!
So far, an amazing 10,000 people have taken part in the big butterfly count. You and your fellow butterfly counters have carried out over 15,000 counts and clocked up an incredible 210,000 individual butterflies and moths.
Sightings are still coming in, but the main results of the UK's first ever big butterfly count are already clear. From 24th July - 1st August 2010, a staggering 8,926 of you took part across the length and breadth of the UK, from Orkney to Scilly and Fermanagh across to Norfolk (click here to see maps). A breathtaking 187,000 individual butterflies and moths were counted!
This is the biggest ever weekly count of butterflies anywhere in the world!
Butterfly Top 10
The Small White was the most common butterfly overall, very closely followed by the Large White and the Gatekeeper. Over 29,000 of each of them were counted and it was a very close race for the top spot. Nearly half (47%) of all the butterflies and moths counted belonged to these three species! The Top 10 butterflies counted during the big butterfly count are shown below:
Most counts took place in gardens. In fact, 42% of the butterflies and moths counted were from your gardens, with another 23% from fields and 22% from other rural habitats.
The high counts of the Large and Small White butterflies comes as little surprise, as these are very common species in almost all habitats (especially gardens) and both had a good year in 2009. The outstanding performance of the Gatekeeper, on the other hand, is a very pleasing result as this butterfly has suffered a run of extremely bad years and populations were at a low ebb. 2010 has clearly been a good year for the Gatekeeper, particularly in comparison to its close relative the Meadow Brown, which is normally the more abundant by far of the two. Gatekeepers were seen in the highest numbers in fields and other rural habitats, as well as from the centres of major cities such as London and Manchester.
It was also very pleasing to see the Small Tortoiseshell in the Top 10, as this familiar butterfly has suffered a severe decline in recent years and had become a scarce sight in many parts of the UK, particularly in the south. The results of the big butterfly count suggest that it has bounced back and it was seen by many participants, particularly in gardens (where it was the 6th most common species).
The Comma and the Speckled Wood just missed out on Top 10 places on the basis of the total numbers of butterflies counted. However, these two species were frequently seen during big butterfly counts, albeit in small numbers. In fact, the Comma was the 7th most frequently seen butterfly (in all habitats), but ranked only 11th in terms of the total number seen.
Although no day-flying moths made it into the Top 10, you were busy recording them. All six of our target moths were reported, along with many others. The most common moth during big butterfly count was the Six-spot Burnet, followed by the Silver Y and then, some way behind, the Humming-bird Hawk-moth. The Six-spot Burnet came in 13th place overall, with just under 4,000 individual moths counted.
Blackhorse Lake was unsurprisingly devoid of hirundines in the lunch time sunshine compared with yesterdays drizzle, just a few Common Terns remained.
Also quiet were the paths into and around the main reserve with most of the Chiff/tit flock having moved on.
I did note 1 Willow Warbler and 1 Chiff Chaff starting to sing again.
The hour was saved by insects with 3 Red Admirals on the buddleia and 10+ 7 Spotted Ladybirds around the wildlife garden wall. 2 Speckled Woods, 2 Meadow Browns and a Small White made up the numbers around the reserve. Dragonflies and darters were also numerous. Didn't bother with the hides today.
Thursday, August 26
Most notable and probably easiest to catch up with 'locally' are:
Field Vole, Mole, Mink and Stoat.
Harder ones include:
Harvest Mouse, Otter, Yellow-necked Mouse, Wild Boar and Polecat.
Of the remaining bat species I'm still short:
Leislers, Nathusius Pip, Alcathoe and Grey Long-eared.
Coastal wise I'm still short of everything !
Harbour Porpoise, Grey and Common Seal and any Dolphins or Whales !
All that's left in the England as far as I can see is Mountain Hare and I have a plan to see these.....
Plus I'd have a little more time to stake out the roaming tit/chiff flock along the main entrance path.
Again Blackhorse Lake showed a repeat of earlier in the day with numerous Common Terns and lots of low flying hirundines skimming the lakes surface.
Once along the entrance path inside the reserve and slowly stalking the birds I'd estimate that I counted 11+ Chiff Chaffs, 3+ Willow Warblers, 1 Lesser Whitethroat and 1 male Blackcap amongst the numerous Blue, Great and Long tailed Tits.
The bund remained quiet from Near Hide. So I decided to continue on round to Far Hide. After a few sweeps of the bund nothing was seen except 2 Little Egret and at least another 20 Common Teal hiding from the north easterly. Another couple of scans with the scope on full zoom I finally spotted a Common Sandpiper in the early evening gloom. But that was about that. Again I returned to the entrance track and the tit/chiff flock remained, dashing from side to side, surely a 'rarer' bird is in amongst them.
First up of note was Blackhorse Lake on the road in, this held 20+ Common Tern and 50+ hirundines hawking over the lake.
Along the paths into the main reserve 3+ Chiff Chaffs together and a Goldcrest. 1 Large and 2 much smaller Grass Snakes noted.
From Near Hide everything was flushed off the bund twice but all I could pin point as the culprit was a Crow pecking into something. 2 Swifts and 45+ House Martins were above the lakes. The rest of the bund was quiet. Back on the paths, 4 male Blackcaps were the pick of the ID warblers, lots of other flocks moving around the reserve.
I did stop off at CMK before work this morning. Only thing of note was wet binoculars.
Wednesday, August 25
Turned up this lunch time and found 4 other people on the reserve! Thought it was a mega twitch! But alas, just the forerunner that nothing decent was around.
From Near Hide:
3 Little Egret, 5 Swift, yesterdays Sand Martins had grown to over 20 birds hawking over the lake and that was about that. The forecast rain clouds had opened by the time I'd left the hide so imagine the good birds were about to turn up.
Tuesday, August 24
From Near Hide, I spotted a lone Little Grebe and 2 Little Egret. Then whilst scanning the 'crescent bay' I spotted a 'godwit' flushed from out of view and into the water. This then decided it had had enough and took off towards the hide. It flew along the bund showing large white wing bars, black wedge on rump, white tail with black bar across the end and toes sticking out, which secured it as a Black-tailed Godwit. It fought the wind and drifted off west towards Haversham. Duck and geese numbers seemed on the increase but everything was huddled down trying to get out of the wind. Final birds noted were 3 Sand Martins heading North West.
Monday, August 23
I then returned to Linford after work, armed with my scope this time, but Nik and Rob had beaten me too it and could only find a juvenile Ruff and Common Sandpiper instead of the Wood Sandpiper. The Ruff looked remarkably different to the earlier Wood Sandpiper.
Friday, August 20
I also recorded my first Red Admiral at this site this year - Linford has usually been very reliable for this species in the past.
Birds of note included a Spotted Flycatcher along the entrance track and a Chiff Chaff singing. Tufted Duck numbers were also on the increase.
The log book noted a 'Slav Grebe' yesterday but I couldn't see anything other than Great Crested today.
I've also noted what a good year 7 Spotted Ladybirds are having this year - anyone else agree?
Thursday, August 19
Bird life at Broughton was thin on the ground with just 3 fly over Yellowhammers.
A few Meadow Browns and a Small White were also noted
Wednesday, August 18
Rabbits and Squirrel were the only mammal hi-light although I did flush something big that could jump so suspect it was a Muntjac near one of the paths.
Butterflies included Common Blue, Large Whites, Speckled Woods and lots of Meadow Browns.
Also lots of large Hawker dragonflies over the paths.
Mid size Grass Snake was probably the best spot.
Tuesday, August 17
From the hide after 12:00:
6 Green Sandpipers, 1 Common Sandpiper. 1 male Kingfisher showing display flight and calling from the posts in front of the hide. Plus a second Kingfisher calling in reply to the right of the hide but not seen, also lots of Coots but low numbers of ducks.
Just 4 juvenile Terns and a few Sand and House Martins on the South lake.
Reeds in front of the hide could definitely do with a trim.
I’ve not stopped off at CMK waste ground for good while. But did this morning. Alas nothing seen at all except 2 fly over pigeons. Then I picked up a raptor soaring towards Sainsbury’s at the far end. I eventually picked out the white cheek of a Hobby, I then noticed it was carrying an item of prey in its talons and eating it as it drifted off east – probably hirundine as none of these were around either. I then brought my bins down back to the ‘red cargo’ container and picked up another raptor flying directly towards me at top speed and head high, it passed between the container and fence. It then flew over a the perimeter fence ( a perfectly good fence on which to perch ) and landed on the bonnet of my car! It didn’t look at me but kept looking around for hunting opportunities, unhappy with these it then flew onto the top of the car and the pair off us eyed each other through the sun roof for a minute or so before it took off towards Argos. It was a nice juvenile Sparrowhawk and had the most piercing yellow eyes. Guess these two raptors were the reason CMK was devoid of birdlife at 08:50 this morning.
Monday, August 16
The site was good with a mixture of habitats and with water levels low we also added 2 Green Sandpipers and a juvenile Ruff plus the 2 Black-necked Grebes were showing well.
A slow drive home through the countryside did produce a small mammal running across the road but I didn't get a good enough look to see what it was.
Here’s a photo of a harp trap assembled, the width of the catch bag is nearly 2 metres long.
Plus we had to carry the Auto Bat ‘lure’ equipment and its batteries and all our regular ‘batting’ kit. So by the time we’d reached our destination through a heavy shower we were nice and warm. After erecting the two traps which take about 5 minutes each we then have to sit and wait for 1 hour after civil twilight ends before we can turn them on. Then we attempt to lure the bats to the calls the machine is emitting. Well last week the team (alas without me) managed to catch and process 5 Bechsteins Bats! To explain how rare they are (and not even supposed to be in Bucks) these were the 2nd to 6th records ever in Bucks!
So tonight hopes were high that we do have Bechsteins in Bucks. Unfortunately the weather was poor and temperatures were cool.Earlier on the path along to the wood I noticed a huge dead Mole. So with time to kill I went back to take these photo’s. This is the best ‘dead’ conditioned Mole I’ve ever seen (never seen a live one – yet!) So it’ll be added to my dead mammal list for the year.
Sorry about the quality but check out those front paws!Showing against my Maglite 2 AA torch shows the scale of how big the mole was.
Behind our ‘bat processing area’/camp between the two traps we also noticed this female Glow Worm in the grass. She’d actually turned off her light because it took me so long to try and get these record shots. She soon turned back on again after I’d finished. I had to turn the flash off on the camera and use my head torch for light.
When the time came to turn on the traps we were well chuffed 15 minutes later to get a Natterers Bat in trap 2, so at least bats were on the wing even though the weather was poor. Our next inspection of trap 1 revealed 3 bats. These turned out to be 2 juvenile male Bechsteins and another male Natterers. We were so chuffed. These were a lifer for me and my 37th mammal species this year.
A third visit to trap 1 revealed another bat - another Bechsteins – this time a full adult male and only the 9th record ever in the county! What a night! And that was that no more bats recorded and our surveying time had sadly come to an end.
I’m not at liberty to talk about the angry Hornet that pestered us as we dismantled trap 1 the others are still deafened from my scream as it bumped into the back of my head in the pitch black.
Sadly they have not produced any bats, or signs of bats so far and Saturday didn't disappoint......again no bats or even signs of any. To add to the disappointment 2 had be tampered with but we were able to rehang and a third had disappeared altogether - presumed stolen to be used as a bird box - ironically this was a Schwegler 2 FD (£35 plus p&p !), as shown below, which has a special wooden board behind the entrance hole, thus making it useless for birds. If it has been rehung in someones garden lets hope the bats find it and use it.
Friday, August 13
Thursday, August 12
1 Ringed Plover, 8 Little Egret, 10 Common Tern, 2 Garden Warblers feeding away on Elderberries (is it that time of year already!), a few Tufties and Teal back in also.
3 Gatekeepers, 3 Meadow Browns, 1 Green veined white,
1 large and small Grass Snake together
1 Ruddy Darter and a Harlequin Ladybird
I then checked the roost this morning and could hear nothing. So, confident to say they have left with my last confirmed sightings from Sunday 8th August. They started way back on the 19th May.
Hope they come back next year. Any bets on the start date for 2011?
Also found a small Bank Vole in one of the 'hotels' yesterday afternoon.
Wednesday, August 11
Did give it 5 minutes in the back garden last night checking for bats. I didn't witness any leaving any known roost, but just a Common Pipistrelle feeding over the garden.