Sunday 24 June 2018

Stanwell GP - 15th, 19th and 22nd June 2018

As well as the water level receeding, the reeds have began leaning in to the rides in the month that we've been away, and a shoots have also started to emerge from the ride floors so we set aside a few hours to tidy up. There had been an emergence of small flies and we could see Reed Warblers moving onto the cut stems where they were easier to feed on. We had a bit of spare time so erected a 40ft net and caught 6 birds within the hour.

There have been more site changes with large volumes of soil removed from the soil heaps directly next to what has become the flattened grassy area. There will be no trying for Meadow Pipits there anymore, but at least we will be able to attempt to catch them on the new meadow.

15th Totals: 6

Robin - 1
Reed Warbler - 5

We returned on the 19th hoping to get some more Reed Warblers from previous years, and to capture non-reedbed species moving through the heavily overgrown banks of the soil heap mounds. We have noticed that large volumes of soil continue to be removed from the mounds and the end of our 60ft&40ft run has been truncated and now ends in a sheer drop some 10 feet deep. We will have to see how the work progresses at the site.

3JJ Lesser Whitethroat

19th Totals: 10 (5)

Reed Warbler - 4 (5)
Lesser Whitethroat - 1
Whitethroat - 1
Greenfinch - 2
Goldfinch - 1
Linnet - 1

We had been led to expect the work would be finished by the 22nd but there was still more finishing off to be done. We know that the banks are to be lessened in height to soften the drops where soil has been removed and hope that this won't alter the way in which birds use the site too much. This morning there was no HGV activity in that direct area so we put up a single net close to a puddle where House Martins have been collecting mud. There were no hirundines captured but it did work rather well for Linnets coming in to drink. The reedbed was fairly quiet, almost as though the resident Reed Warbler adults are now aware that nets may be there from time to time. We'll just have to wait for when the youngsters start moving about. As a bonus the small back flies are still there in their thousands and an excellent food source for the Reed Warblers.

5F Reed Bunting

22nd Totals: 15 (5)

Dunnock - 1 (1)
Robin - 2
Blackbird - 1 
Reed Warbler - 1 (3)
Lesser Whitethroat - 0 (1) 
Blackcap - 1
Chiffchaff - 2
Linnet - 6
Reed Bunting - 1 

Wraysbury GP - 13th, 15th 19th & 24th June 2018

Having been absent for the dates at the start of the RAS period, we thought we'd better get out and try to catch some retraps that qualify for the study. WA & LON have already been out working towards recapturing Whitethroats while we've been away.

We had some moderate early success catching two recaptured adults on the first two dates. There were also some new adults and quite recently fledged young that were all returned to the rides where caught.

Retrap Z761814 was ringed 17/08/2015 when
aged 3 and had not been recaptured since.

Totals 13/06 : 10 (2)

Dunnock - 1
Robin - 2
Songthrush - 1
Whitethroat - 5 (2)
Blackcap - 1

Totals 15/06: 13 (6)

Dunnock -  3 (2)
Robin -  2 (1)
Whitethroat - 5 (2)
Blackcap - 2 (1)
Blue Tit - 1

On the afternoon of the 19th we spent a couple of hours at Wraysbury, finishing off some existing rides with the aid of the strimmer. We had a couple of nets up hoping for Whitethroats but captured instead three Bullfinch and a Great Tit.

Totals: 3 (1)

Great Tit - 1
Bullfinch - 2 (1)

We paid another visit on 24th with the focus on the Whitethroat RAS. We managed another new adult re-trap. Total numbers were still moderate, considering that there are now more young being present on the site. A number of adults have been showing signs of starting their post breeding moult, and now we're seeing some that are already in full primary moult.

Totals: 17 (6)

Dunnock - 5 (1)
Robin - 2 (1)
Songthrush - 0 (1)
Cetti's Warbler - 1
Whitethroat - 3 (2)
Garden Warbler - 1 (1)
Blackcap - 3
Great Tit - 1
Treecreeper - 1

Saturday 23 June 2018

West Virginia - 1st to 8th June 2018

We finished our time with the Red Knot project on 31st of May and drove to West Virginia. It was a six hour drive and we arrived in the early evening for our visit with our son, James who lives in Morgantown, West Virginia.

After a long drive following two and half busy weeks in the field, the first two days, were set aside for R & R while it rained heavily. The next day (3rd) we all set out for the Land of Canaan, three hours away and nestled between a number of state parks. We checked in and made our way to cabin 8 located within the Canan Valley SP. The White-tailed Deer were obviously very used to people and several were browsing around the cabins in the wood. Few other people were staying and one woodland creature was somewhat caught out as we entered through the door with cases and groceries, only for a Chipmunk to shoot from its hiding place behind the sofa, across the floor and straight up the chimney.

We were out within the hour and drove a short distance to an outlook across a Beaver pond. There we looked for the beavers but saw none. A Bluebird could be seen in a dead tree close by with Turkey Vultures overhead. It seems that our voices disturbed a Black Bear from shrubs on the opposite side of the pool as it broke cover, running up hill through the Blueberry and Huckleberry plants until out of sight.

Black Bear, Canaan Valley SP

There had been a lot of rain and there were showers on and off but that didn't stop us seeing quite a lot of butterflies, skippers and dragonflies, many that still await identification. 


 Silver-boarded Fritillary

 Red Spotted Purple

 West Virgina Dustywing

Common Whitetail Skimmer female

Little Wood Satyr

Clouded Skipper

Hummingbird Clearwing Moth on Irises

Pecks Skipper

Hobomok Skipper

We drove to some of the more local outlooks and walked no more than a short distance from the car in the Canaan Valley.

Dolly Sods Wilderness Area

The next day was earmarked for a return to Dolly Sods Natural Wilderness. This is a unique landscape that we'd visited the previous year and wanted to see more of. Here it was really windy and that kept the small birds low. However we did see Ruffed Grouse and American Woodcock by the roadside.

Ruffed Grouse

There some longer walks to be done but few were circular walks to bring you back to the starting point without retracing your steps.

Rivers of stone

Huckleberry flowers

Boggy grassland

Wild Azaleas

Common Ringlet

The Blackwater State Park wasn't far away and the falls were spectacular after so much recent rainfall.

Blackwater Falls State Park

It was a brief walk to the Lindy Point outlook and until there, there was no sense of just how high up we were. It was a very good place to watch the birds of prey.

Lindy Point outlook

Black Vulture

Turkey Vulture

Bald Eagle

The next day we drove to Cass for a railroad trip up to Bald Knob. There wasn't too much wildlife to be seen along the route, but the changes in vegetation as we climbed were of interest.

Engine 11 Cass scenic Railroad

Deciduous trees before the track begins the climb

High level growth, mainly Red Spruce

Spring Azure

Fire Watchtower, Whittaker

At the end of the day we took the three hour drive back to Morgantown. The next day we did some local walks, visiting the grounds around Prickett's Fork SP on the Monongahela River.

Eastern Phoebe

Eastern Towhee

Green Heron

Then the afternoon was spent at the West Virginia Geographical Survey Museum. James hadn't been there before as it's out of town and he is still without his own transport. It will be a good teaching resource for his post graduate students.

Giant Ground Sloth - the West Virginia state fossil

Interesting minerals

Even some Eurypterid fossils for James to make a
record of for future reference.

Then a day in the field visiting some fossil sites along corridor H. First a site that James knows of, but has not visited before.

Two separate environments separated by time, but just a few feet apart along the slip road.

Silver-spotted Skipper

Eastern Comma

Then a second stop at the truck stop.

Here recent rains had brought loose material down and some
 interesting examples were found.

Clouded Sulphur

Great Spangled Fritillary

And so we reached our final day, and went out walking locally before driving to Philly for the night flight home. We went to the Cooper's Rock SP 13 miles from Morgantown, walking through the West Virginia University Research Forest tract.

We heard plenty of birds including Common Yellowthroat and Red-eyed Vireo
but they proved more difficult to see.

A colony of fungi

The cover wasn't too thick and sunlight reached the ground in some areas

Paw print of a large cat, Mountain Lion are rarely seen but clearly inhabit
the forested areas.

All streams run to the Monongaliha

Our final destination was to the Cooper's Rock outlook, giving a spectacular view across the forests that surround Morgantown in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains.

Cheat River from the lookout