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In search of the High Brown

The High Brown Fritillary Butterfly a difficult one to separate from the Dark Green Fritillary unless you get a good view of the underside of the High Brown and it would also be a new butterfly species for me, so the best way of seeing one would be in Cumbria on a Butterfly Conservation walk with licenced catchers who are allowed to net the High Brown.

Undermillbeck Common was the battle ground and the group was 10 strong with two nets let the battle commence.

Any butterfly took some finding on this overcast day we started with Small Skippers, Meadow Browns and Ringlets. The Fritillary’s were harder to find but we got some luck with a sunny interval and Fritillary’s started to appear, netting them was different thing but once the experts got their eye in catches stated to happen. Examination of the first half-dozen showed all to be Dark Green Fritillay’s, bellies were rumbling so we decided on a dinner break, more Fritillary’s appeared tantalising us as we ate our sandwich’s , sure they were grinning as they flew past.

Plan B after dinner to a site nearby, which was within walking distance, we kept a look out for Purple Hairstreaks on the way passed some oak trees, they were being elusive as well. On the site Small Skippers and Common Blue Damselflies were about, no High Browns to be seen. A Common Blue Butterfly was on the wing then we had great views of a Small Pearl Bordered Fritillary settled and gave the group some wonderful views, then a Female Black Darter settled and gave us a great photo opportunity.

The idea was to go back to the first site for an extra 20 mins but it took only 5 mins before a fritillary was in the net the call went out a High Brown had been caught and was soon in the pot giving the group good views of the fine details of the butterfly before it was released.

We left the site and four of us decided to go on to another High Brown site (Barkbooth Lot) and on entering the site we had caught another High Brown Fritillary within 5 minutes, these turned out to be the only two we saw for the day , we had plenty of Dark Green Fritillary’s to confuse us all

High Brown Fritillary

High Brown Fritillary

Dark Green Fritillary

Dark Green Fritillary-03228_edited-1

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Gull, Butterflies and Snakes

Our first port of call for the day was at Nosterfield Nature Reserve, still in Yorkshire so we were off to a good start, the target for the early morning was a 2nd calendar year Sabine’s Gull (Video via Roger Parrish you tube), it took some finding eventually appearing to good close views, a great bird to see in flight with a very distinctive wing pattern, a lifer for me so I was off to a good start. Other birds here Great Crested Grebe, Black headed Gulls, Common Sandpiper, were of note.

On then to Foulshaw Moss for the Butterfly of the day, Foulshaw being in Cumbria so we had a little bit of a trek for 90mins. Arriving on site we made our way down to the Osprey viewing platform, the Osprey was seen on nearby trees around the nest site and in the nest feeding a young bird. A Water Rail was heard here and seen were Swift, Sand Martins and Swallows.

Coming down off the platform we walked on towards a viewing point and from here our second target was seen, a speciality of Foulshaw Moss the Large Heath Butterfly, good views were finally had when a couple decided to settle, a butterfly that was always on the move and at a distance so photos were not obtained, plus the fact we were on a peatbog, so I was sticking to the boardwalk, this butterfly was also a lifer for me, taking my tally now to 51 species, 7 more to go +1 in Ireland.

The day was brightening up, sunny intervals were more common which had now brought out the Common Lizards on to the boardwalk, 4 Banded Longhorn Beetles were seen along with a few Large Skipper, and  Green veined White  Butterflies.

Back at  the car park we got news of a Snake nearby, we had to have a look, it turned out to be an Adder another first for me, I was having a great day. We then got news of another snake, someone saying it was a Grass Snake, but taking a look at it this snake also turned out to be an Adder.

We then made our way up to Whitbarrows Nature Reserve a new place so neither of us knew where we were going, we took a best guess, we ended somewhere near but not on the spot. We made the most of it seeing Silver washed Fritillary, Dark Green Fritillary, Large Skipper, Green veined White, Small White, Meadow Brown, Ringlet and unsure in a couple of Small Pearl Bordered Fritillary

Four Banded Longhorn Beetle

4 banded Longhorn Beetle

Adder

Adder

Gambia

My March Gambian Trip can now be  viewed  here at this LINK

Hornsea Mere

Uncertainty over the Butterfly I wanted to see saw us heading out to Hornsea Mere to hopefully see the reported Red footed Falcon but on arrival it hadn’t been seen since 9am we arrived at 9:30am, not to be discouraged we were compensated with the aerial display of 5 or 6 Hobbies which more than made up for the loss of not seeing the Falcon.

Other birds seen whilst hunting out the Falcon were Marsh Harrier, Mute Swan, Swift, House Martin, House Sparrow, Reed Bunting, Cettis Warbler, Swallow, Tufted Duck. Also of interest at Hornsea and been here for a while was an Iceland Gull, which was located with the ducks rather a surprise

Iceland Gull at Hornsea Mere

Iceland Gull

After Hornsea we ventured out to Fordon Chalk Bank, near Hunmanby and the Wold Top Brewey, a Butterfly Site, a new site for me and I picked up a few firsts for the year notably my favourite the Small Copper. Numerous Brown Argus were on site along with Speckled Wood and Common Blue, in low numbers were Large Skipper, Dingy Skipper, Small Heath,

Small Copper Butterfly

Small Copper

We didn’t give the site a lot of time due to a text message of the butterfly I wanted to see today so it was off to a site near Knaresborugh where I saw the UK smallest Butterfly the Small Blue, so Id seen the UK largest and now the Smallest over a weekend

Small Blue Butterfly

Small Blue

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Swallowtails

I had a very brief visit down to the RSPB reserve at Strumpshaw fen, the journey that so many people make for the Swallowtail Butterflies.

2017 was the year I was determined to see and photograph them after failing on a few occasions, so with news they were in flight and a good day of sun I was off heading south at 4am in the morning arriving at 8:30am after a 185 miles.

I walk around to the famous garden where the Swallowtails visit, but I was a little early so I had a look around picking up Cettis and Reed Warblers as I waited, Azure Damselflies and Large Red Damselflies.

An hour past before 1 Swallowtail appeared which I and a few other folk enjoyed as it feed amongst the flower bed, the spectacle lasted about an hour, before the Swallowtails dried up so I made my way back to the visitor centre and did a bit of birding as well. Here a Cuckoo took flight across the reserve, Grey Heron among the reeds and a Marsh Harrier flew thru

Swallowtail Butterfly

Swallowtail

Swallowtail

Langsett Area

Decided on a couple of brief hours up around the Langsett Resorvoir before I got stuck on doing the days jobs that needed doing. Arrived and parked in the Langsett Barns car, picking up on Garden Warbler, Chiffchaff and Willow Warbler as I headed off towards the dam wall picking up Common Sandpiper, Black headed Gull and Canada Goose as I walked over the dam. Out in the fields as I headed towards the woods Blackbird and Mistle Thrush were busy feeding and Lapwings overhead.

In Cliffe Wood Blue Tit were the first birds I picked up on but it wasn’t long before I heard Pied Flycatcher and with a bit of looking soon picked up on a fine male bird, calling away from a nearby branch. Looking around the wood Treecreepers were about to along with Wrens, Coal Tit and Great Tit, and lastly I heard the call the of a Redstart, always start looking for these birds a top of the tallest tree that’s where they are likely to be found, he took some finding out of sight most of the time, I had to look from the road side away from the wood to eventually see him, that finished the morning off nicely

Pied Flycatcher

Male Pied Flycatcher

St Aidans

A new site today and a relatively new one just opened up by the RSPB , located near the Fairburn Ings Site, so what would I find. I was advised to use the reedbed trail first as it was my first visit, it is a big place with many trails.

Geese were the stand out bird with many Greylags about with the odd Canadas, Meadow Pipits were picked up on the grassy banking using the fence posts so were easy found, it was here that i picked up my first Sedge Warbler of the day, then they were like buses, but during the day I had may a good views of these summer migrants, and of course Reed Warblers were close by given the change to compare the calls together.

Black headed Gulls are in abundance, but you could also pick up Herring, Lesser Black backed and Common Gulls in and amongst. Wildfowl about were Mallard, Gadwall, Shoveler, and plenty of Pochard. 

At the trail cross roads I picked up a few Common Terns, nice to see these back, also a Male Reed Bunting was in fine song here and gave fantastic views. Half way round now and the one of the birds I was hoping for today came into view, but at a distance, but after watching for a while I had great views of 3 Black necked Grebes as they came swimming by. I had now virtually made my way round and was near the visitor centre again when I picked up a Female marsh Harrier coming over the ridge, I watched as she sailed effortlessly by.

After dinner I decided to walk in the opposite direction from this morning on to Lowther Hill, I think it was, sun was now out and so were a few Orange tip butterflies along with my first sighting of the year for Small Tortoiseshell. The birds had started singing again Willow Warblers, Chiffchaff, Robin and Wren. I had now found myself near the river where I was listening to Blackcaps, then a different call very similar ever so slightly different and like Reed/Sedge hard to separate, this one was a  Garden Warbler and it took me a while to pin it down and it only gave a brief appearance, but I’m glad I persevered because here I also found Lesser Whitethroat and Common Whitethroat in the same place along with Willow Warbler and Chiffchaff, and a Bee Fly. On the river were Mute swan and a Little Egret

A great day many species seen and now a feeling that summer has returned

Birds Seen : Blackcap, Black headed Gull, Black necked Grebe, Buzzard, Canada Goose, Crow, Chiffchaff, Common Gull, Common Tern, Coot, Cormorant, Gadwall, Garden Warbler, Great Crested Grebe, Grey Heron, Greylag Goose, Herring Gull, Jackdaw, LApwing, Lesser Black backed Gull, Lesser Whitethroat, Linnet, Little Egret, Long tailed Tit, Magpie, Mallard, Marsh Harrier, Meadow Pipit, Moorhen, Mute Swan, Oystercatcher, Pheasant, Pochard, Redshank, Reed Bunting, Reed Warbler, Robin, Sand Martin, Sedge Warbler, Shelduck, Shoveler, Starling, Stock Dove, Tufted Duck, Whitethroat, Willow Warbler

Reed Bunting

Male Reed Bunting

Black Necked Grebe

Black Necked Grebe