Saturday, 30 August 2014

Sand Bay 30/8/14 - Orchids, Fungi, Butterflies, Dragonflies and stunning views

It may be only a 6.5 mile trek but this walk never disappoints for its variety of flora and fauna along the way. Our walk started from Sand Bay then through the lanes and droves to Woodspring Priory.  From the Priory we walked the ridge and fields towards Sand Point and then back along from the Point to the bay. A bright and very breezy day though quite warm out of the wind.
The fields along the way still have many wild flowers in them though way past their best I am sure that in mid summer a host of butterflies would have relished the flowers. The small water channels along the way are covered in the lovely yellow Fringed Water Lily.  We also saw a couple of Moorhens here.  Further on through the lanes there is an abundance of Sloes, Blackberries and Haws bringing a rich colour to the hedgerow. Both Butterflies and Dragonflies seem drawn to these fruits and there was no shortage of Red Admirals, Speckled Wood, and a Comma feeding off natures harvest.  In a field we saw 2 Clouded Yellows and also a couple of Common Blues struggle against the wind.  Still plenty of Common Darters around as well as the big and beautiful Southern Hawker.
We had a good view of a couple of Wheatears amongst the rocky outcrops and a few Swallows and Martins skimming over the grass.   Good numbers of Goldfinches feeding on the seeded thistle heads.  Just 1 Kestrel on view and 3 Lttle Egrets on the inlet. Also seen was a single Cormorant and Oystercatcher.
Great to see the return of the fungi species - Shaggy Ink Cap and the large Parasol.

    Natures harvest


Fringed Waterlily

   Southern Hawker

                Common Darter

Common Darter

                 Shaggy Ink Cap

   Comma on natures harvest

                   Sand Point view

   Shroom with a view! 



                Common Blue - the last of the summer Blues?


Autumn Lady's - tresses - a great find and a stunning little orchid

 Autumn Lady's - tresses 

 A tropical look to Sand Bay! - a lone Yucca ready to flower

Monday, 25 August 2014

Somerset Levels, Hawk & Owl Trust Reserve + Canada Farm

We parked up at the Hawk and Owl Trust car park and followed the drove road right along to its end which met up with the main road to Catcott. This drove road is quite wild in places and home to a brilliant array of wild flowers. Nice to see that some of the cut fields have a wild flower edge around them. Along this drove we saw many butterflies from Red Admiral. Small Copper, Small Tortoiseshell, Green Veined White and a single Comma which was perched on a grass stem.
Flocks of Goldfinches seemed to follow us along the way as well as few Buzzards. We also caught a glimpse of a young Grass Snake heading out of our way into the grassy verge. This drove road is just pure countryside heaven.
From the drove road we headed back across the fields towards Hawk & Owl Trust hide.  Along the way we saw a couple of Clouded Yellows and a few Brimstones, the Brimsones looking so fresh and new.  The H & O Trust hide is amazing - the best hide I have ever been in.  A pond has been made just outside as well as three bird tables and feeders in place.  Whilst we were there Great Tits, Chaffinch, Dunnock and a Great Spotted Woodpecker came to the tables.  The views across the fields are amazing and from here we saw more Buzzards, a Kestrel and a couple of Hobbies in the distance.
The walk from the hide along the drove road to the hide at Canada Farm is brilliant. Surrounded by fields, lagoons and woodland,  again another great area for butterflies and dragonflies.
From the very breezy hide at Canada Farm we had some fantastic close views of hunting Hobbies the dead trees in the lake providing perches for them.  There must have been at least 10 Hobbies here. We also had a fantastic view of a female Marsh Harrier as well as some Great Creasted Grebes.

Wild flowers at the cut field edge

Small Copper


High Summer!

Small Tortoiseshell

                                                 Comma - on grass

Drove road path towards Catcott - countryside heaven!


Common Darter

                 The lush green path towards Canada Farm hide

Common Darter

Migrant Hawker


               Hornet - seen along the Drove 

Greylake, Shapwick & Ham Wall 22nd August 2014 - Summers end on the Levels

Arrived at RSPB Greylake early morning to a mixture of cloud, sun and a breeze. From the platform we were lucky to see in the distance a flock of 9 or so Cranes always great to see.  Our stroll took us past the wildflower meadow on the lookout for Clouded Yellow butterflies but unfortunately none were flying here.  From the reeds though we had some great sightings of Reed Warblers.
There were a few Small tortoiseshell and Green Veined Whites on the wing along the grassy path leading down to the screen and then a Clouded Yellow flew by and believe it or not landed on a dandelion at our feet! 
Across the ditch we observed a Kingfisher perched in a dead tree. Our eyes looked skyward as we heard the familiar cries of a Peregrine and there above us were three Peregrines who looked to be teaching a youngster how to swoop and dive.  Great to watch. There were also plenty of Dragonflies along this stretch of the walk.
From the hide its self we had a great view of a Marsh Harrier and Kestrel as well as Little Egret and Heron.  Plenty of House Martins and Swallows were seen over the reeds.
Ham Wall was ' buzzing' with dragonflies and butterflies. Not too much bird activity but the reserve is always a joy to visit for all its flora and fauna.
The scrape at Shapwick has now been drained providing refuge for a good amount of Lapwings, duck species and large group of Little Egrets as well as 3 Great White Egrets when we were there.  No doubt other migrants will now visit on their journey South.
The Osprey was still in the same tree on Noah's lake a week on now and still braving the very strong breeze!

Migrant Hawker

Clouded Yellow - landed at our feet!

Clouded Yellow

Migrant Hawker

Butterfly festival on the Hemp Agrimony

Common Darter (m) immature

Purple Loosestrife and Reedmace

Still so green - view to the Tor

Osprey still on Noah's Lake - Shapwick

Great White Egrets on the drained scrape - a third was just out of view

Little Egrets - there must have been at least 25!


Monday, 18 August 2014

Ham Wall & Shapwick 17/8/14 - Dragonflies, butterflies and an Osprey

We arrived at Ham Wall and the rain was pouring down with the wind howling, "the storm will pass" the weathermen assured us and sure enough the rain cleared. It turned into a beautiful sunny afternoon if a little windy!
So as the sun came out so did the wildlife.  Dragonflies were plentiful but always difficult to spot where they landed if they landed at all.  We were clearly able to identify Blue tailed Damselflies, Common Darter, Migrant Hawker and Common Hawker and I suspect there were one or two other varieties.
There is a great deal of Hemp Agrimony in full flower best viewed from the lower Loxton loop path by the water channel.  The Agrimony was just simply alive with butterflies and we watched open mouthed for ages as they all fluttered around together the colours on each and every one amazing as well as the numbers of them.  From Small Tortoiseshell, Peacock, Red Admiral, Comma and and even a single raggy Silver Washed Fritillary! Also in this area there were still many dragonflies 'hawking' around.
Not too any birds were seen at the Ham Wall side Long tailed Tits, Chiffchaff, Lapwings, Coot, Great White Egret, Little Egret and a great number of House Martins and a few Swifts feeding over the reeds.
On to the Shapwick side and again at the scrape we saw both a Little Egret and a Great White as well as a few ducks towards the back.  Noah's Hide was more rewarding and despite the strong wind blowing straight across the lake and into the hide we were able to observe a windswept Osprey almost cowering in the wind plus a Marsh Harrier and Hobby as well as Great Crested Grebes etc on the lake.
From Mere hide there was just one Great White Egret but along the path to the hide there were a few Small Tortoiseshells.
Back sat the scrape again and towards the car park a single Clouded Yellow whizzed by being carried by the wind.
All in all a great few hours on the levels - just wish that more people would see  it's more than just the birds!


                 Common Darter (male)

Common Hawker


              Migrant Hawker

Common Hawker


                Migrant Hawker

   The water channel swamped by Hemp Agrimony


              Butterflies galore!

    A raggy Silver Washed Fritillary joined the butterfly party


                                            Common Hawker

   Common Darter (female)


               Osprey from Noah's Hide

   Common Darter  (male)


               Great White Egret