Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Somerset Levels, Hills and Coast

A glorious 16 miles or so walked over the weekend.  3 very different terrains were covered the nature reserves of Shapwick, Ham Wall and Greylake on the levels, the hills of the Mendips and the coast path around Sand Point and Middle Hope.  The feel of Autumn is now in the air of the early morning and evenings despite the warm days.
Plenty of butterflies still to be seen as well as dragonflies.  Passage migrants are now on the move with  the levels proving rewarding.  How quiet the reed beds have now become with no reed or sedge warblers singing their song, we miss them already! Highlights of the week end were Greenshank, Green Sandpiper, Common Sandpiper, Whinchats and a field of Clouded Yellows.  The countryside is still very much alive if you stop to look!

Small Tortoishell on Purple - loosestrife

Red Admiral

Greenshank on the 'scrape' Shapwick

The Hawthorn looking very full everywhere this year

Clouded Yellow seen at Greylake.  20 or more flying along side whites and tortoiseshells in the planted grassy meadow.  A wonderful heart lifting sight to see.

Ruddy Darter at Greylake

Common Darter at Greylake

Rowan berries in all their splendour - lots of Mountain Ash in the woods of the Mendips

A young Roe Deer on our path.  A beautiful sheen and colour to it

 Calluna and Erica, Blackdown is a carpet of purple

Common Fleabane 

Migrant Hawkers, male and female


Common Blue - hundreds around Sand Point flowers and grasses

Looking towards Sand Point

Silver Y Moth ,  there seems to be an abundance of them this year.

Middle Hope 'beach'

Middle Hope

One of a family of Kestrels using the sea breeze to practise flying and diving.  Fantastic to observe and watch.

Small Skipper on Scabious - the only skipper seen over the week end.

At least 3 Whinchats in the scrubland of Sand Bay beach.  On their way to Africa what a fantastic surprise.

Young Whinchat - preparing for its  epic journey

Monday, 19 August 2013

Shapwick Great Whites

Spent a wonderful few sunny hours at Shapwick and Ham Wall on the Somerset Levels.  Plenty of dragonflies skimming over brambles etc for smaller insects, it's amazing and mesmerising to watch them and their acrobatic skills in insect catching.  Almost like watching an air show at times!
A fantastic sight awaited us on the scrape, 9 Great White Egrets and about 20 little Egrets.  Also seen here were 2 Greenshanks, 3 Green Sandpipers, the usual Godwits etc.  A Marsh Harrier was also seen often hunting over the reeds.
Walking towards Ham Wall side there were still plenty of butterflies to be seen mainly Tortoiseshell, and Peacocks plus a few Red Admirals.  All of these were feeding on the Hemp - agrimony plants dotted along the way. A Silver washed Fritillary was seen a couple of times in 2 areas. 
A nice find of the day was a Spotted Flycatcher.  Great to observe catching insects and returning to it's perch.

Great Spotted Woodpecker seen often on the Levels

Grey Heron - common everywhere but still great to see

7 of the 9 Great White Egrets on the 'Scrape'. Have never seen this many together before.

Spotted Flycatcher seen at Ham Wall

Common Darter

Little Egret and Willow Herb.  Love these elegant birds

Little Grebe with Coot

Great White Egret now a familiar sight on the Levels

Black Tailed Skimmer 

Female Common Darter

Hemp - agrimony a great food plant for butterflies

Brown Hawker 

Monday, 12 August 2013

Crook Peak, Darters, Chasers and butterflies

Stunning walk up to Crook Peak along Wavering Down to Kings Wood and back to Compton Bishop along the fields.  The views from Wavering Down across the Somerset Levels are breathtaking and well worth the walk up to the Peak.  Plenty of Meadow Pipits and Goldfinches as well as Stonechats, Buzzards, Ravens a Kestrel and 1 lone Wheatear seen.  
Sunny spells brought the butterflies out in their hundreds the highlight being a ragged Dark Green Fritillary, Brown Argus, Grayling and a couple of Clouded Yellows that went whizzing by!  Field edges have been left uncut and it was great to see plenty of Common Blues in the grasses.  
The sweet corn in the fields is now over 6ft tall and on the field edges an amazing sight over the corn where at least 100 plus Hawkers were dancing in the skies the sun hitting their wings giving a wonderful bronze sheen.
Great views, great wildlife, and great exercise as well! 

Across the fields to Glastonbury Tor

Up towards the peak

Grayling on heather

Wall on thistle

Robins Pincushion - a colourful deformity caused by a gall wasp

Meadow Pipit

Looking back to Crook Peak

Small Tortoiseshell

Bedraggled Dark Green Fritillary

Southern Hawker

Common Darter

Common Blue - plenty to be seen

Brown Argus - great to see

Comma - plenty to be seen along the field edges

Common Darter

Brown Hawker - 100's of these near the sweet corn fields

Along the fields back to Crook Peak

Brown Argus - lovely!