Saturday, 28 May 2011


After a challenging couple of weeks on the Isle of Mull, we finally gave up and came home a couple of days early. From a wildlife point of view it was great. We managed to find most of what we wanted to see. The big disappointment, apart from the lack of walking opportunities was being unable to get out to the Puffins and other sea birds on the island of Lunga in the Treshnish Isles. This is definitely one of the highlights of a trip to Mull, but you need the right weather conditions for it really. To make up for it here's a few Puffin pics I took last year.

So, obviously the first thing I wanted to do when we got home was get down to New Hythe, which I did on friday morning. I hurried past the mill for all the usual reasons and made my way along a very quiet Brooklands lake. Apart from some Swifts, Swallows and Martins hawking above, it was pretty much empty. Disappointingly, the tide was very high on the river, so instead of visiting the bucket seat I headed around the sunken marsh. What a difference a couple of weeks makes. The grass verges have grown so high, I couldn't find the path at times. It had rained on thursday and consequently within five minutes my legs were soaked...deja vu!!

The upside was the bird activity, lots of fledglings about and plenty of evidence of other youngsters still in nests. The insect bearing Whitethroat above, nicely dissected by a piece of grass is a poor illustration, never mind, you can see what I mean, especially if you left click. I also saw a few Reed Buntings carrying food for their young within the marsh. Cetti's Warblers were in good voice, as were Nightingales who sang hesitantly at first, but as the morning passed they seemed to become bolder and I saw at least four different birds singing in the relative open and two which chased each other around in a small clearing later in the west scrub area.

A cuckoo was calling from the far side of the marsh and I looked across and saw a bird on the wires which I presumed was the Cuckoo but it turned out to be a Turtle Dove (101). I was pleased to see it because it took me all summer nearly to find one last year.

Abbey Mead was also pretty much deserted, all I really noted was a single Orchid in the SW corner, Common Spotted I think. Because of the low cloud and coolish conditions dragonflies were not seen on the wing and Butterflies were pretty much the same apart from a couple of Speckled Woods and this one pictured below which I think I will say is a male Common Blue, what is it with 'common' stuff being so difficult?

I thought that if it opened it's wings it might make it easier to identify and eventually it did just that and I then saw what a ragged state it was in. I'm not surprised that it looks a bit sad in the picture below, I would too.

I couldn't resist putting a picture up of this well known chap Oedemera Nobilis or more commonly, Fat-legged Beetle or even Thick-kneed Beetle, take your pick. Only the males have the fat legs, very smart they look too.

Also stirred into action by a brief burst of sun were these Longhorn Moths, Nemophora Degeerella. Fascinating little beasts, the males antennae are up to 30cm, three times as long as their body, the females are somewhat shorter. It's the males who get together and perform a little dance on the wing, rising up and down a couple of feet before dropping back to rest on a leaf, and then starting over again. I haven't noticed these before but they are probably quite common and coincidentally Greenie of 'Greenie in the Wild' also featured them on his blog yesterday.
After crossing the railway line I had a quick look on the Railway lake where a Gt Crested Grebe was out in the middle of the lake with four chicks, three were following mum in single file while the other hitched a ride on her back. Cute factor ten out of ten, must try an early visit for a picture sometime soon.

In the trees along the edge of Streamside lake I heard what I thought was a Blackcap singing, luckily I checked it out because it was actually a Garden Warbler (102), my first this year. With Green Woodpecker, four Buzzards, Stock Dove Chiffchaffs, Greenfinches and Pied Wagtail all seen, my list for the morning reached 38 species, not great I know, but it was good to be back.

While we were away our Blue Tit eggs in the camera box hatched and we now have five very hungry chicks as you can see below. Poor old mum and dad are run ragged at the moment but seem to be doing a good job. It's really fascinating having the camera set up but what a time waster, you just can't stop watching them. The picture is actually a photograph of my TV, so they're not disturbed at all by us peeping toms.


Bob Bushell said...

The Puffins are excellent, even from the years before, they've giving me a great pleasure.

Greenie said...

Phil ,
Your decision to 'cut and run' looks like it was a good one , as it still looks grim in the NW .
Didn't take you long to get the list ticking over again when you got home .
'Spot' on with the Orchid and butterfly underwing .
Congratulations on the 'new family additions' .

ShySongbird said...

Welcome home Phil, It's good to have you back 'where you belong' :) I did feel for you in that appalling weather and think you did well to stick it as long as you did!

The Puffins may have been from last year but it is such a beautiful bird and the photos are so good that they were well worth showing again... excellent!

I too have a sneaking regard for old fat legs ;)

Well, I like the Whitethroat photo despite the grass and it is lovely to see the Blue Tits are doing so well too :)