Wednesday, 23 June 2010

High summer on Studland

Attended the Annual Forum of the Dorset AONB on Studland today - cyclable from home in Poole. Little Egrets (above) in Baiter Park will let you cycle past without a second look, but braking or stopping is usually enough to spook them - not so this one, which continued fishing intently, allowing me to practice with a new, cheap and cheerful Tamron 70-300mm lens. On leaving the ferry for Studland, it wasn't long before I came across a colony of Silver-Studded Blue butterflies on Studland Heath -several males (above) and a couple of females, including some freshly emerged specimens.

Monday, 21 June 2010

Breeding on Brownsea

Very few Sandwich Tern chicks on the islands in front of Macdonald Hide today (right). Notes in the hide log book suggest this may be due to nocturnally grazing Sika Deer causing disturbance. On the plus side, the terns at the back of the lagoon seemed to have plenty of chicks. A 2nd-year Mediterranean Gull (right -ringed at Pas De Calais, France in June 2009) Water Vole and Water Rail from the reedbed hide were the other highlights of a short visit.

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Croeso y Cymru!

Turning the pager back on after a week in France revealed news of Trumpeter Finches, Black-Winged Stilts and a Marmora's Warbler in the UK. A bad week to go away perhaps? Managed to claw one-back with a very early trip to Wales to see the Marmora's before work this morning. It sang and did a few circuits around the lower car park before I had to leave. A new bird for Britain for me and a great way to start the week, numbing the pain of returning to work!

Sunday, 6 June 2010

Lower Valley of the River Doubs

Imagine Stodmarsh merged with Lakenheath, add a bunch of Bee-eaters, Night Herons, Purple Herons, Great White Egrets and Red-backed Shrikes and you have some impression of the Lower Valley of the River Doubs near Dole in Eastern France. Turtle Doves, Golden Orioles and Nightingales provided the music on this brief stop on the way home from Geneva to Dorset after a week's holiday. Access to the river bank colonised by Bee-eaters was not so much restricted as discouraged by 'Beware of the Bull' signs erected everywhere by French farmers with a surprising concern for public health and safety. Eventually the desire to get good photos of Bee-eater overcame a deep fear of cattle instilled by a bizzare scope-bearing sprint around Oare Marshes to escape the attentions of some frisky Fresians a few years ago. Fortunately their French cousins turned out to be pretty placid, enabling some acceptable shots to be taken before the heat and the horse-flies forced a retreat.

Friday, 4 June 2010

Limited luck on Mont d'Or

Made an early start to visit Mont d'Or, the highest point of the French Jura mountains, with high hopes of seeing Hazel Grouse, Capercaillie, Tengmalm's Owl, Wallcreeper and Alpine Accentor. Saw none of these, but did manage a brief sighting of a Nutcracker, identifiable not from the poor views but from its unmistakeable call given before and after it took flight: a nightjar-esque 'Krrrrr' according to my notes. Crested Tit, Ring Ouzel and Water Pipit also seen. The very top of Mont d'Or was generally shrouded in cloud, making views of Wallcreeper unlikely, but occasional gaps in the mist revealed a dramatic landscape, pictured here.

Thursday, 3 June 2010

Kites in Geneva

I almost left the camera behind today for a trip to down-town Geneva with family and friends - but was very glad I didn't: Black Kites (left) were everywhere around the shores of Lac Leman, with Red-breasted Mergansers, Red-crested Pochard and Goosanders (below) hanging around the lake shore, the latter even coming to bread. A family party of Goosander proved particularly photogenic with 3 Goosander-lings out-competing the nearby Mute Swan cygnets for cuteness. Surprising that the Black Kites can find enough to feed on in Switzerland's clean streets. Definitely a case of quality not quantity though as other bird life in Geneva seemed reasonably scarce. Screaming parties of swifts provided a fittingly urban soundtrack.

Park Life

Impressive park life in Geneva and nearby Cessy, just across the border in France where we are staying with friends this week. I struggled to identify this cute fellow (right) but now believe it to be Siberian Chipmunk, an alien species with a bad reputation for spreading rabies and Lyme's disease - not sure how well-deserved as this one hopped around a kid's playground for ages without savaging a single youngster.

No chipmunks yesterday in the park near Cessy, but plenty of Serin, Nightingale, Red-crested Pochard (right), Black Redstart and this European Pond Terrapin (right). Introduced Red-necked Terrapin was also present on the same lake, but dived into the water before I could get pictures.