Saturday, 23 August 2014

Odds and Ends from Week of 18th August

Its been a very busy week at work but I did manage to get out and about a little. On Wednesday 20th I made my fourth visit to the Isle of Wight where I have been assisting with the wardening of the Bee-eater nest on the National Trust Wydcombe Estate. It was a fantastic day and the Solent crossing was mirror calm giving great views of Hurst Castle and the Needles. There was little to be seen but for a handful of Common Tern and a Whimbrel in the mouth of the Lymington River.

The Needles and Hurst Castle

The Bee-eaters were performing very well and during my stint from 09:00-13:15 I saw the final one of the four chicks fledge leaving the nest empty for 45 minutes before, in short succession, two chicks returned to the nest and entered staying there to be fed by the adults until I departed the site. It was fantastic to see the two adults, two first summer birds (the nest helpers) and four fledged chicks in the area. Unfortunately, the birds were always a little distant for photographs, but I managed this record shot of one of the adults in flight.

Adult Bee-eater

There seemed to be a great deal of antagonism between the Bee-eaters and Swallows with the later often attacking the former while occasionally the Bee-eaters would retaliate and pursue the Swallows.

Bee-eater and Swallows

On my way back I decided to go for a short walk at Beaulieu Road Station. Typically for this time of the year it was fairly quiet. A flock of around 30 Crossbill in Larches at Bishops Dyke included a number of juveniles.

Juvenile Crossbill

The local Stonechat are now looking a little scruffy as they moult and I noticed that someone had got their hands on at least one of the birds and clamped some rather unsightly coloured rings on its legs.

Male Stonechat

I then made a short stop at Shatterford Bottom where one of my favourite British flowers, the Marsh Gentian grows. This is a rare and localised species in the UK with its strongholds in the New Forest and Dorset.

Marsh Gentian

Close-up of internal tube of Marsh Gentian

On Friday 22nd I spent the day working in Gosport where the amazing sight of thousands of Autumn Lady's Tresses growing on the lawns of the site greeted me. While not spectacular this is a splendid little orchid who's flowers grow around a spiralling stem recalling twirled plats. The plant flowers in August and September and the basal leaf rosette can be found right through the winter.

Autumn Lady's Tresses