A visit for Purple Emperor, at last paid off, some photos, though only after nearly treading on it, it flew the length of the track and eventually returned to the same spot and settled for about five minutes. It was eventually joined by two others though only briefly. Silver-washed Fritilleries only came to three along with two White Admirals.
Purple Emperor - male
Afterwards a visit to Ivinghoe Beacon only produced three dark green Fritilleris and a quick visit to Black Park three each of White Admirals and Silver-washed Fritillary.
A bit of a gathering this evening in gloomy conditions, with a couple of new visitors in the shape of Eleanor and Emma (from St Andrews Uni) and despite a lot of House Martins low over the site with Swallows and Sand Martins we struggled to catch many, only managing a single Sand Martin and Swallow, both new birds for Emma, along with Starling. We did however also manage do a further two Little Ringed Plover pulli from a second brood. Total for the evening was 22:
A visit to Bernwood Forest in the hope of seeing and photographing a Purple Emperor, did produce a brief sighting of what was probably a female on the ground but it went up as we approached, and clearly was not ones of those that remains on the ground for all to photograph. Only a single White Admiral was seen, with about 9 or so Silver-washed Fritillaries and plenty of marbled Whites.
After Bernwood a trip around a couple of sights for Dark Green Fritillary failed to produce any at Chinnor Hill or Butlers Hanglands, but a couple were seen at Bradenham together with quite a few Small Blues.
Another evening visit - the first time on a warm clam summers evening this year really as we were away most of April. An interesting evening with the first juvenile Cetti's and Sedge Warblers, but still no juvenile Reed Warblers which is a bit worrying. Total for the evening was 25:
The day start overcast when the forecast was showing bright sunshine but by 9.30 it started to burn off so we head out butterflying and country pub lunching. First visit was to Homefield Wood, a good number of Marbled Whites, Small Skippers and a single Dark Green Fritlliary in the BBONT NR area and along the main ride at least 14 Silver-washed Fritlllaries, but no sign of any White-letter Hairstreak.
Dark Green Fritlliary
After lunch we went to Bald Hill at Aston Rowant but it was surprisingly lacking in butterflies with only a few Marbled Whites and no Dark Green Fritlliaries.
A visit this evening with Helen, her first visit to the site was meet by a good number of low flying Hirundines, but unfortunately they seemed to avoid capture with the exception of a single House Martin and Swallow, being the first for Helen. A Little Egret was again present and a check to see if the Little Ringed Plover had made it through a day of heavy rain only produced four adults but no young, and the Lapwing was no longer on the mud by the ride which may unfortunately indicate they lost their young. Birds rung were:
A visit with Gavin produced a mix back of birds, but the highlight of the evening was three Little Ringed Plover pulli being rung. Also a Honey Buzzard went through with a Little Egret present. A pair of Lapwing had brought their young off the field into a small area of mud next to the ringing ride, but this was potentially not a good move, with Denise seeing a Mink on a previous visit and a Fox regularly visiting the area. Birds rung were as follows:
A short session with a few of the Maple Cross team to ring Tree Sparrow young using nest boxes resulted in 15 pulli being rung. There was also a nice large Sand Martin colony that were in an active working area and were over 20 feet off the ground on what looked like a shear face.
On route back home a visit to Ladywalk Wood for White-letter Hairstreak failed to produce any and a visit to Black Park produced a single tatty White Admiral.
The run of mainly 3J Blue and Great Tits continues, but on the 16th the first House Sparrow, a male, since 15 February 2007, was caught, this being only the second, since the first on 15 February 2007. They recently seem to be coming into the garden more frequently, the nearest colony being only 300 or so yards away, in the past they have not strayed far from their 'home' range. The same day also produced the first 3J Coal Tit caught in the garden, though Coal Tits are occasionally caught during the winter period. On the 18th also caught was one of the 3 Greater Spotted Woodpeckers that have been coming into the peanut feeder.
A visit to look for Black Hairstreaks in the M40 compensation area was unsuccessful due to the fact I did not have clear enough directions to actually find the area, especially as the track off the main route is unclear, and spent over three hours trying to locate it, so covered a fair area of the forest. Saw a single White Admiral and a Marbled White. Also came across a couple of reeling Grasshopper Warblers and had a Siskin over. Saw quite a number of Fallow Deer, probably about twenty all told, and a single Roe Deer.
Afterwards a visit to Piddington Wood produced a single Black Hairstreak feeding on bramble in a sunny corner and Rushbed Wood just a couple more Marbled Whites.
Another evening session only produced seven birds, a little too windy for House Martins or Swallows and the Sand Martins failed to roost. Interestingly we had another Reed Warbler ringed in 2009 and not re-trapped in 2010. We have had an interesting series of such birds this year, and oddly none were juveniles in 2009. We did manage another control tonight, a Garden Warbler, L497221, which is not bad considering the low catch and the control Swallow two days previously. We also had the first juvenile Reed Bunting of the year but still no juvenile Reed Warblers. Totals were:
Ringing in the garden at present is just producing juvenile Blue and Great Tit, one after another, with no variation for some time now, so the female Chiff-chaff with a BP3 and carrying an egg on the 13th was a welcome surprising change, as an Warbler in the garden, let alone in the net is a rarity.. Definitely not nesting in our garden though there is a singing male in the adjacent small nature reserve.
Another evening visit with Tim and Karl. Bit of a mixed evening weather wise, some heavy cloud came over causing the temperature to drop and with it came some strong breezes, with odd periods of relative calm, especially in the last hour or so. A few Starlings coming into roost were caught and in a period of calm the nets on the mounds had some success with a few House Martins and Swallows being caught including a control juvenile Swallow L436393, which we suspect was ringed in the nest as pulli. Karl being a relatively new trainee managed to gain experience of a few new species.
A visit (Denise and I only) for a fairly quite evening, though we caught our first Kingfisher this year, only the fourth at the site, the last being in July 2009 in the extension over the water. Frustratingly we had a couple of Lapwings and a Little Ringed Plover on the mud next to the next a couple of times.
A trip to Oxfordshire was met by a period of overcast and showery periods, which for some reason seemed to hang over the wood, where other areas were in bright sunshine. In the morning a couple of Black Hairstreaks were seen briefly during a few short bursts of sunlight. Buzzard and Red Kite were overhead, with a reeling Grasshopper Warbler and Marsh tits in the wood. Lunch time was spent in a local cafe 8 or so miles away in bright sunshine, the wood on my second return visit was still overcast, but bumping into a couple of UTBC members, a Black Hairstreak freshly emerged was found on the grass and put to saftey from beign trampled upon. A visit ot Whitegreen Cross Wood which was in almost total cloud cover and cold was unfruitful.
As the evening for once was windless and slightly overcast we decided on speak to give the site a go in the hope of maybe catching a few Hirundines. We again caught a Reed Warbler that we ringed in 2009 that we did not re-trap in 2010. This year so far this has total six birds originally caught in 2009 and not re-trapped in 2010 but re-trapped this year. We managed one catch when they were feeding over the mounds which produced the first 3J Swallows of the year, a few Starlings were caught as the 1000+ came into roost and as we went to pack up having erected over 30 foot extension at the end of our reed/willow carr ride we found it had a few Sand Martins in it, including again the first 3J of the year, and the sound of birds roosting in the reeds already. The total catch was:
An early evening visit with Sam, allowed some ground clearance to be done to save the nets snagging on ground vegetation. Prior to the clearance, oddly on a spit that was created to enclose the old gravel wash out area was a single Bee Orchid.
A couple of Little Egrets were seen, as well as Hobby, and from a photograph that Sam took of what initially was thought to be a Hobby, turned out to be a Peregrine, plus the usual Cuckoo was still present. It turned out to be a good pm session with 32 birds caught with 4 re-traps, one being a Reed Warbler V351324, which would have been a control except it was rung by the group back on 10/7/2007 at Mayfield Farm, Bedfont, which is less the 5km away from Stanwell. Also the Starling roost is again back in the same spot as last year with somewhere in the region of a 1000+ birds coming in. Not large by some winter roost standards but offering the potential for a catch of a difficult bird to extract late in the session. Totals were: