Saturday 29 July 2017

Pennington Marsh and Crockford Bridge - 28th July

After some long hours working over the last couple of weeks I took a couple of hours off in the early morning and went to Pennington Marsh. I have not been to the marsh since the end of April and so a visit was long overdue. I walked out past Shoveler Pools and then back around Jetty and Butts Lagoons before heading back to the car. The weather was terrible, a strong westerly wind and heavy showers and so my visit was brief to say the least. I think most of the birds were sheltering and I saw relatively little. Around 25 Sand Martin were moving westwards into the wind, around 30 Black-tailed Godwit were on the lagoons, two Common Sandpiper, 15 Whitethroat, 75 Dunlin, a few Grey Plover in fine summer plumage and a Spoonbill on Butts Lagoon was about all I saw. I made a dash for the car and was soaked.

Black-tailed Godwit - Now in heavy moult

Black-tailed Godwit - This is a very warn winter plumage bird that had not 
moulted to summer plumage

Black-headed Gull - Now moulting to winter plumage

Black-headed Gull - A juvenile mouthing to 1st winter


Rock Samphire

Bank of rain approaching, it was very wet and windy and felt more like November than late July

Grey Plover - Fantastic birds in summer plumage


As I left the weather brightened slightly and I decided to pop into Crockford Bridge in the hope of finding some sheltering Odonata - perhaps ridiculously optimistically. I wandered for around 50m east from the road and fairly quickly found a couple of Southern Damselfly and a Blue-tailed Damselfly but with more rain approaching I decided to head for the office.

Blue-tailed Damselfly

Southern Damselfly

Small Copper

Brown China-mark

Hampshire Purslane

Round-leaved Sundew

Friday 28 July 2017

July Invertebrates

I have been carrying out invertebrate surveys down in the Yeovil area of Somerset over the last few days (well pretty much two weeks actually) with Adam Wright. We didn't find anything too exciting but here are a few snaps taken with my iPhone.

The hoverfly Ferdinandea cuprea

The hoverfly Volucella zonaria

The snail Succinea putris

The micro-moth Ypsolopha sequella, a Field Maple feeder

Brown Hairstreak egg in the fork of a Blackthorn


Shaded Broad-bar

The rare Tephritid (Picture-winged Fly) Acanthiophilus helianthi which feeds on Black Knapweed but here on Saw-wort

Silver-washed Fritillary

Speckled Bush-cricket

Brown Argus

Monday 17 July 2017

Skomer Island - 14th July

Sarah, Tobias and I last visited Skomer on 6th July 2014 and so after a couple of years with no visit we were looking forward to getting back and Tobias was very excited about seeing Puffin. So after a good drive to Pembrokeshire on Thursday afternoon we had time for a short stop at Laugharne Castle before heading to our hotel, The Grove in Narberth.

We were up early on 14th and headed to the ferry to Skomer at Martin's Haven hoping to get the first boat which leaves at 10:00. We arrived at 08:15 but it was clearly busy and we were too late for the 10:00 and instead were on the 11:00 so, before our departure, we had a short wander around the nearby headland seeing a few auks offshore but little else. After ice creams we boarded the Dale Princess for the 15 minutes crossing to Skomer. As we arrived on the island there were large numbers of Puffin in the water and more birds swirling around the cliffs. Puffin numbers on the island have climbed from 22,539 individuals in 2016 to 25,227 in 2017 which is fantastic news for a species so often heard to be in decline. We walked from North Haven to The Wick along the south coast of the island and spent around an hour or so at The Wick enjoying the to-ing and fro-ing of Puffin's but noticed that the numbers of Guillemot and Razorbill were low, apparently breeding is around one week ahead of the normal season and most of the birds have now left. A picnic on Skomer Head produced a female Wheatear and four Common Dolphin and three Common Porpoise offshore. We then cut back across the island via the farm and back for the 16:00 ferry.

On 15th we awoke to a strong wind, fog and heavy drizzle but we were not deterred and headed down to the National Trust Stackpole Estate where we spent the middle of the day rock pooling, building sand castles and exploring the adjacent cliff top grasslands for plants. There were good numbers of Manx Shearwater offshore and two Chough fed on the cliff top grasslands. We returned home on 16th after a very enjoyable weekend.

The cliffs were relatively bare with decreased numbers of Guillemot and Razorbill. 
These Kittiwake had well grown young not far off fledging.

Lesser Black-backed Gull

Lesser Black-backed Gull

Lesser Black-backed Gull