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 After my success with the Duke of Burgundy butterfly I was inspired to go for another species I have not seen for years. This was the Small Blue and I chose Stoke Camp. Again, like the Common Clubtail dragonfly I only saw one individual but this was more down to me abandoning it early when my camera battery gave out and my spare appeared to be empty so all my own fault. One is still so much better than none though and I was happy with my initial shots I also got an underside view  There were not many butterflies on the wing despite a temperature of 20 degrees but I did get close to this Small Heath and I always enjoy seeing Brown Argus Otherwise a Painted Lady was a surprise migrant and the first Meadow Browns I have seen this year barrelled past in the stiff breeze. These will be species I suspect that I will see many times later in the year

Early season dragonflies

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 It is that time of year when my thoughts turn towards butterflies, moths and dragonflies with a try at improving on last years pictures. This weekend I journeyed back to the Severn at Tewkesbury where two visits last year produced a single male Common Clubtail. This year's trip only produced a single female but it was both close and  obliging There were also plenty of Scarce Chasers around and who can resist the Banded Demoiselles which are instantly recognisable and also photogenic I also went to Priddy to try and get flight shots of Downy Emerald. After 2 hours of trying I had a very sore wrist from focussing and not much else. Next stop butterflies.

Dowlais update and other local excitement - early June

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 Sadly the two broods of Lapwing chicks (7 birds in total) all failed to make it past a week old. There is at present, an adult sitting again though so fingers crossed. The poor weather with lots of rain served to reflood the area though which looked to be good news for the Redshank, I suspected of being on a nest. And indeed it turned out that way with two chicks hatching on Sat 5th June and both still alive Wed. I even managed a short video of one of them. The long bill marks it out from Lapwings Other birds were closer and so easier to photograph, such as this Whitethroat There are several pairs of these now breeding. The presence of a very young Rock Pipit means that they have also successfully bred Other exciting events this week have been the discovery of a Red-veined Darter during our dragonfly survey at Portbury Wharf And, of course, the fantastic finding of a River Warbler on the Somerset levels by one keen eyed observer I have long wanted to see this species in the UK and suc

The Bass Rock

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 Many years ago I studied ornithology and was lucky to be taught by the late Dr Bryan Nelson. He was the world expert on Sulids (Gannets and Boobies) and had done his first research on the famous Gannet colony on the Bass Rock in the firth of fourth. Two weeks ago Joan and I finally got the chance to go up to Scotland to visit her family as covid restrictions eased. We booked a hotel near to Dalkeith which happened to be close to this island. Having a few hours free on one day we decided to finally see what sort of an experience the rock offered and so booked a short trip out to sail around it from the Scottish Seabird Centre at North Berwick. Amazingly the rain and cold, present for most of May, cleared away on the day of our trip and we enjoyed calm winds, a flattish sea and warm sunshine. ,From the South the Island gives you the classic postcard view And as you get closer and closer the sights and sounds, along with the smells get stronger and more dramatic.   This colony is the lar

At last some insects in 2021(between the hail showers)

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This has been a dreadfully cold spring with recently, added rain and hail but at last I have had a chance to see and photograph some insects. My first dedicated trip was trip Rodborough common in Gloucestershire to look for Duke of Burgundy.   There was just the odd five mins of sunshine and two of these, now rare, butterflies appeared in a sheltered spot. It has been many years since I have seen one in England and I was very pleased to catch up with it again. The other butterfly that I made a special effort for was Wood White. Here again the weather was decidedly changeable and in particular the small site I had been told about seemed to attract heavy cloud despite the sunny hour over lunch (inside for the first time this year) and an entirely sunny drive for an hour to get back home home. During one of the two 30 second breaks in the cloud though, a Wood White fluttered by and I followed it along the path to its roost on a bluebell where it was very happy to let me photograph it.  On

Dowlais waders: a short update

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The very good news was that at least two pairs of lapwings have managed to hatch chicks but the less good news is the survival seems very poor Firstly here's a short video of two of the first brood of three seen on 5th May by others and filmed by me on the 6th  Unfortunately by the 9th May just one was still alive. However a second brood of 4 hatched that day but I was unable to get a picture of them. This pic shows the first brood again I like this next shot just because it includes the other species I am sure is trying to breed here, Redshank. Although not able to get to the site every day I have tried to spend time whenever possible looking for the chicks which have become elusive, to say the least. From my observations it appears that by 10th May we were down to a brood of just 1 and a second brood of just 2. By the 14th I could only find 2 chicks, each near a different adult and since then none at all.  The behaviour of the 3 adults still around gives cause for hope. They are

Dowlais scrape area, migration and breeding in full swing

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 Despite the continuing cold weather; migrant birds such as this Wheatear have been passing through. This bird was one of a flock of 6 that stayed a few hours this weekend. It looked like the local swallows had arrived en-masse when 4 one day became 24 the next all on wires along Strode Road, then just as suddenly most of them vanished. Bar-tailed Godwit numbers have decreased but there are still Whimbrel moving through and these use all of the Dowlais fields, not just the scrape showing how important it is to keep as much habitat as possible for them and Curlews as both species are in serious decline. This video was taken from a gate in Strode Road itself when the birds happened to be much closer than normal Today a rarer wader graced the scrape. This was a Little Stint. It is really small as the name suggests and this could be seen when it fed next to a Dunlin and a Ringed Plover at one point. Both of those are small waders themselves. This was an excellent find by Steve from Yatton,