Sunday, 11 November 2012

Spoonbill on Marazion Marsh

  Late this afternoon we visited Marazion Marsh to watch the Starlings coming into roost. However as we walked into the reserve we saw a juvenile Spoonbill fly over the marsh and land in the area in front of the standing stone.  We watched it feeding and preening for a short time and it even called a couple of times, before flying off to the sanctuary area north of the railway. 

  We then spent the next hour, with the sun setting, watching the thousands of Starlings coming into roost over the marsh and Long Rock pool. 

  I took these pictures with my Panasonic Lumix compact camera.

Spoonbill feeding in the setting sun

Sunset over Marazion Marsh

Sunday, 7 October 2012

Glossy Ibis in the Rain

  A day birding in West Cornwall proved quite successful today. Nanquidno valley produced a female Redstart together with a Firecrest and Siskin. We then joined the many birders in Cot Valley and had good views of the Yellow-browed Warbler that had joined a feeding flock of Blue, Great and Long-tailed Tits, Chiffchaff and Goldcrests. 

  As the rain started and we were about to make our way home we heard news of a Glossy Ibis in fields near Sennen. This very confiding adult Glossy Ibis was feeding in the puddles in a stubble field near to Escalls Chapel at Sennen.

  I took these record shots with my Panasonic Lumix compact camera as my SLR camera is currently not very well! The light was not very good and it was pouring with rain. In the second photograph you can see the rain across the plumage of the Ibis! 

Sunday, 12 August 2012

Damsels and Dragons at Breney Common

  This weekend we visited Breney Common nature reserve to look for damselflies and dragonflies. We saw eight species in all. Below are three of the species seen.

Emerald damselfly - Male

Emerald damselfies in the "wheel" 
Black Darter - Male
Black Darter - Female
Small Red Damselfly - Male
Small Red Damselfly - Female

Sunday, 5 August 2012

Insects on the Lizard

  Today was spent on the Lizard with a trip to Windmill Farm and Bray's Cot pool. 

  First was Windmill Farm with the star of the show being a Hobby which we watched catching dragonflies. It would hold the dragonfly in its talons and then nip the wings off before eating the body. 

  There were several dragonfly species on the wing over the various pools on the reserve. We were very lucky to see at least four Red-veined Darters, looking a little worn, accompanied by Emperors, Black-tailed Skimmers, Common Darters and a pair of Broad-bodied Chasers.

Red-veined Darter - Male
Red-veined Darters in the "wheel" position
Hoverfly on a thistle flower
 Close up of the hoverfly's head showing the pollen on its face
Cornish Heath
  Lastly we visited Bray's Cot pool near Goonhilly. It was raining when we arrived and all the insects had hidden away! As the sun came out a few damselflies started to fly including Blue-tailed Damsefly. We also saw another Hobby fly over the pool.

Raindrops on Bray's Cot pool
  Our last bug of the day was this rather ugly looking fly! We think that it is Tachina grossa, which is a parasitic fly which predates on caterpillars and other insects.

Friday, 27 July 2012

Alners Gorse, Dorset

  Making the most of the sunny weather last weekend John and I visited the Butterfly Conservation's reserve at Alners Gorse in Dorset. Our target butterfly for the day was the White-letter Hairstreak.

  We were lucky enough to see at least six adult White-letter Hairstreaks flying around the tops of the Elm trees. We had good views through our binoculars, but unfortunately they would not come down to the lower branches for their photographs to be taken!

  There were lots of Marbled Whites on the wing as well as Ringlets, Meadow Browns and Gatekeepers. We also saw Silver-washed Fritillary and lots of Small Skippers.

  The pictures below are a selection of the those I took during the day and show a variety of insects that we saw whilst walking around the reserve.


Common Darter

Common Blue Damselfly


Beetle (not identified!)

Yellow-tail Moth - the tip of the abdomen has a tuft of yellow hair.

A slightly different view of a hoverfly! I took this picture whilst the hoverfly was hovering in front of me in a sunny patch next to the trees. The hoverfly seemed to be territorial as it kept returning to the same area.

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Branscombe, Devon

  Last weekend we visited Branscombe in Devon, in the hope of seeing the Wood White. It was not the easiest of places to get to but we eventually arrived at the car park next to the beach and took a walk along the coastal footpath. The path runs through woodland set just back from the cliff and there were many spring flowers including Ramsons and Bluebells. There were also lots of Dandelion clocks waiting for the breeze to carry away their seeds.

   Unfortunately we did not see any Wood Whites, but we did see this lovely female Orange Tip. We watched her lay a single white egg on the leaf of a Garlic Mustard plant.


   We passed a few Nettle patches along the path and on one patch we found several ladybirds. The most unusual were these Harlequin Ladybirds. The first photograph is of the male and the second if the female.

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Noar Hill, Hampshire

  With the weather forecast as sunny for Sunday John and I decided to make the long journey to Noar Hill in Hampshire in search of the Duke of Burgundy butterfly.

 Noar Hill is owned by the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust and was once a medieval chalk works. It is now home to a wonderful array of flowers and insects. It is also home to the rare Duke of Burgundy butterfly.

  One of the butterflies food plants is the Cowslip. The other is the Primrose. 

Duke of Burgundy - Male

Duke of Burgundy - Female

  Although these butterflies look like fritillaries they are actually members of the "metalmark" (Riodinidae) family, mainly found in central America. This species being the only representative of the family to be found in Europe. 

  We also saw a few other species of butterfly, including Small Heath and this Dingy Skipper.

  Other insects, included a sighting of a Bloody Nosed Beetle, which when alarmed exudes a drop of red liquid from its mouth! And no we didn't alarm it! We also saw this day flying moth but I cannot find a picture of it in my insect book. (Since writing this post I have been told that this moth is a Small Purple Bar...thank you Sue.)

  We also saw this very furry hoverfly feeding on the Cowslips. I think that it is called Bombylius major and is a bee-fly. If feeds on the nectar of spring flowers.

  Noar Hill is also know for its orchids with over a dozen species being recorded here. On our visit we just saw the Early Purple Orchid.

  And finally, here is a picture of John at work! As you can see the butterfly is in the very bottom of the picture and is doing a very good job of posing and showing its best side for its moment of fame on John's You Tube channel! 

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Time lapse with Nikon D800 SLR

  This is a "now for something completely different" post for my blog as it only shows film clips and no photographs! Another new feature of the Nikon D800 is that it has a time lapse setting. As many of you know John is into his video and film-making so we were quite keen to give this new feature a go! Our first trial was a St Michael's Mount and it took us a little while to sort out the settings required but we were quite pleased with the results even though the film was a little on the short side!

(To view the films in a larger format, click on the "You Tube" link on the bottom right hand side of the frame)

  We had another go with the time lapse feature, this time with the wind turbines on the Lizard. Again it took us several goes to get the settings right but John and I were pleased with the results. Maybe there might be a time lapse sequence in his next Birds in Cornwall DVD!!

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Landscapes with the new Nikon D800 SLR

  Last weekend I was lucky enough to be allowed to try out the new Nikon D800 SLR camera. With a 14-24mm lens attached John and I headed to West Cornwall to take some landscapes. I took several photographs during the day, but I have shown just a couple in this post. The first is of the engine houses at Botallack. 

  Perhaps my favourite picture of the day was this one of St Michael's Mount in the stormy clouds. The advantage of the 14-24mm lens is that as it is so wide it allows you to capture those large moody skies in the picture.

Sunday, 15 April 2012

Mute Swans at Tresemple Pool, Truro River

  This evening we had a short walk along the Truro River from St Clement to Tresemple Pool. The tide was going out and feeding on the mud opposite Tresemple Pool was a beautiful Black-tailed Godwit in summer plumage. Unfortunately it was quite distant but I managed to take a record shot as shown below.

  On Tresemple Pool feeding at the edge of the water were a pair of Mute Swans who were accompanied by a Common Sandpiper. Whilst watching the swans another male Mute Swan flew in from the river and landed on the pool. He immediately raised his wings and started charging through the water towards the pair of Mute Swans already there. 

  The resident male responded to the challenge and launched himself into the water with his wings raised and they circled around each other before he chased his rival to the other side of the pool!

  A few moments later we saw the resident male chasing the female across the water, making a big splash in the process.