Half time analysis!

Time flies when you’re having fun, not an original remark I know but none the less true! I am half way through my ‘gap year’ and my goodness it is going very quickly. Although looking back, some of the birds I have seen, the places I have visited seem a long way back, funny old thing time don’t you think? If my calculations are correct I have spent nights in 21 different places in the past 6 months! But first a quick look back at June; we said goodbye to it yesterday until 2017 and for me it was fantastic, well if we leave politics out of it !!!

Definitely the highlight was our trip to  Mull, we had fantastic weather, even better company and new birds, butterflies and dragonflies too. (Please see blogs, “Mull here we come” through to “Mulling it over”)imageThanks to Roo for the photo above, timer set we were sat waiting for the click but she alone knew that we were ‘titled’ on the seat! As well as blogging I am making a scrapbook of our year and I try to do it monthly. So with that in mind I have been looking through June’s photos to pick the ones to feature when I came upon a butterfly I had written off as a tatty white one! Oh no it isn’t it is in fact a Green hairstreak, a first ever for us so it was worth looking through again!Green hairstreak (on Mull)

As well as the birds we saw on Mull, Golden and White-tailed eagles included, we were pleased with the new butterflies and dragonflies we saw there too, albeit frustratingly fleetingly sometimes.

Working our way back home was fun too although the atrocious change in weather as we returned to England and the man who caused the M1 to be shut for 28 hours was not so amusing!

We visited some more of the WWT sites and have been really impressed by them all. Mind you when we learnt they had opened another one in Somerset it was a bit of a blow to our resolve to visit all the mainland one, hey ho to Somerset we must go. I have been struck by the friendliness of the staff/volunteers we have met at the sites and my stranger of the month is one of these. Heather, a volunteer at Caerlaverock who was simply a charming lady and a real pleasure to chat to, as I admired the Lego!

This posing Swallow was a treat at Martin Mere another WWT site.

We bought ourselves a present whilst on Mull as a reminder of our time away, not a bird we saw there but on The Farne Islands.IMG_6459 crop

Our time away may have come to an end but not June, that still had plenty to offer including four life ticks! The Great reed warbler at Paxton Pits, Great Knot at Titchwell, Bluethroat at Lowestoft and Caspian tern at Breydon water and it is the Bluethroat that I pick as my bird of the month. IMG_6250

We still sometimes procrastinate when we hear of a new bird but on that occasion we got straight on to it and we were very pleased we did. She was a lovely little bird, showing pretty well but was gone by the next morning  so it was a good job we didn’t mess about.

Now to the half time analysis! I am loving it and am not sure how I will feel when the year is complete. No regrets other than I haven’t seen as much of my friends and sister as I would normally do and I apologise for that. I am definitely spending more time with Ian than I have for many a long year but I suspect his golf is suffering. He is in fact out playing golf now but I think it is only the second or third time all year! To be brutally honest I am slightly missing occasional time alone although I maybe next year I may regret saying that! Our garden has seen better times of that I am sure and as we can’t afford a gardener, we must take a bit of time to sort it out before it reverts totally to the wild.

But over this first six months we have seen:

235 Birds which included 20 life ticks

115 Moths plus 15 micros ( should be more micros but they are tricky!!!)

17 Butterflies

10 dragon/damselflies

20 Mammals

13 insects  (but plenty left if I can ID them!)

Reptiles and amphibians are sadly lacking so I will leave them for now and try to sort them out, I had better get out snake hunting I think!

So for now the total is 425

In case you don’t bother with the lists let me say thank you for sticking with me through the first half of the year, I hope you hang on for part two. Please leave comments on the blog is it really encouraging to read them.

If you want to read the lists you may need to refresh your coffee first but here goes:

Bird list to the end of June those in bold are new this month and those in red are life ticks

  1. Mute Swan
  2. Bewick Swan
  3. Whooper Swan
  4. Pink-footed Goose
  5. White-fronted Goose
  6. Greylag Goose
  7. Canada Goose
  8. Barnacle Goose
  9. Brent Goose
  10. Egyptian Goose
  11. Common Shelduck
  12. Muscovy duck
  13. Mandarin Duck
  14. Eurasian Wigeon
  15. Gadwall
  16. Eurasian Teal
  17. Mallard
  18. Pintail
  19. Garganey
  20. Shoveler
  21. Red-crested Pochard
  22. Common Pochard
  23. Ferruginous Duck *
  24. Tufted duck
  25. Greater Scaup
  26. Common Eider
  27. Long-tailed Duck
  28. Common Scoter
  29. Velvet Scoter
  30. Goldeneye
  31. Smew
  32. Hooded merganser *
  33. Red-breasted Merganser
  34. Red Grouse
  35. Black Grouse
  36. Goosander
  37. Red-legged Partridge
  38. Grey Partridge
  39. Common Pheasant
  40. Golden Pheasant
  41. Little Grebe
  42. Great Crested Grebe
  43. Red-necked Grebe *
  44. Slavonian Grebe
  45. Black-necked Grebe
  46. Fulmar
  47. Manx Shearwater
  48. Gannet
  49. Cormorant
  50. Shag
  51. Bittern
  52. Little Egret
  53. Great Egret
  54. Grey Heron
  55. White Stork
  56. Glossy Ibis
  57. Red Kite
  58. White-tailed Eagle
  59. Marsh Harrier
  60. Hen Harrier
  61. Pallid Harrier *
  62. Goshawk *
  63. Eurasian Sparrowhawk
  64. Common Buzzard
  65. Rough-legged Buzzard
  66. Golden Eagle
  67. Osprey
  68. Kestrel
  69. Merlin
  70. Hobby
  71. Peregrine Falcon
  72. Water Rail
  73. Corn Crake
  74. Moorhen
  75. Coot
  76. Common Crane
  77. Great bustard *
  78. Oystercatcher
  79. Black-winged Stilt
  80. Pied Avocet
  81. Stone-curlew
  82. Little ringed Plover
  83. Ringed Plover
  84. Dotterel
  85. European Golden Plover
  86. Grey Plover
  87. Lapwing
  88. Great Knot*
  89. Knot
  90. Sanderling
  91. Little Stint
  92. Temminck’s Stint
  93. Curlew Sandpiper
  94. Purple Sandpiper
  95. Dunlin
  96. Broad-billed Sandpiper *
  97. Ruff
  98. Jack Snipe
  99. Common Snipe
  100. Long-billed Dowitcher*
  101. Black-tailed Godwit
  102. Bar-tailed Godwit
  103. Whimbrel
  104. Curlew
  105. Spotted Redshank
  106. Common Redshank
  107. Common Greenshank
  108. Lesser Yellowlegs
  109. Wood Sandpiper
  110. Common Sandpiper
  111. Ruddy Turnstone
  112. Grey Phalarope
  113. Mediterranean Gull
  114. Little Gull
  115. Black-headed Gull
  116. Common Gull
  117. Lesser Black-backed Gull
  118. Herring Gull
  119. Iceland Gull
  120. Glaucous Gull *
  121. Great Black-backed Gull
  122. Kittiwake
  123. Caspian Tern *
  124. Sandwich Tern
  125. Common Tern
  126. Arctic Tern
  127. Common Guillemot
  128. Razorbill
  129. Black Guillemot
  130. Puffin
  131. Rock Pigeon
  132. Stock Pigeon
  133. Wood Pigeon
  134. Collared Dove
  135. Turtle Dove
  136. Rose-ringed Parakeet *
  137. Cuckoo
  138. Barn Owl
  139. Tawny Owl
  140. Short-eared Owl
  141. Common Swift
  142. Common Kingfisher
  143. European Bee-eater *
  144. Hoopoe
  145. Green Woodpecker
  146. Great Spotted Woodpecker
  147. Lesser Spotted Woodpecker
  148. Wood Lark
  149. Sky Lark
  150. Shore Lark (horned lark)
  151. Sand Martin
  152. Swallow
  153. Red-rumped Swallow *
  154. House Martin
  155. Tree Pipit
  156. Meadow Pipit
  157. Rock Pipit
  158. Water Pipit
  159. Yellow Wagtail (Grey-headed)
  160. Grey Wagtail
  161. Pied Wagtail
  162. Dipper
  163. Wren
  164. Dunnock
  165. Robin
  166. Common Nightingale *
  167. Bluethroat*
  168. Black Redstart
  169. Common Redstart
  170. Whinchat
  171. Stonechat
  172. Wheatear
  173. Ring Ouzel
  174. Blackbird
  175. Fieldfare
  176. Song Thrush
  177. Redwing
  178. Mistle Thrush
  179. Cetti’s Warbler
  180. Grasshopper Warbler
  181. Sedge Warbler
  182. Eurasian Reed Warbler
  183. Great Reed Warbler*
  184. Dartford Warbler
  185. Lesser Whitethroat
  186. Whitethroat
  187. Blackcap
  188. Wood Warbler
  189. Common Chiffchaff
  190. Willow Warbler
  191. Goldcrest
  192. Firecrest
  193. Spotted Flycatcher
  194. Red-breasted Flycatcher
  195. Pied Flycatcher
  196. Bearded Tit
  197. Long-tailed Tit
  198. Marsh Tit
  199. Willow Tit
  200. Crested Tit *
  201. Coal Tit
  202. Blue Tit
  203. Great Tit
  204. Nuthatch
  205. Treecreeper
  206. Penduline tit *
  207. Great Grey Shrike
  208. Jay
  209. Magpie
  210. Jackdaw
  211. Rook
  212. Crow
  213. Hooded Crow
  214. Common Raven
  215. Starling
  216. House Sparrow
  217. Tree Sparrow
  218. Chaffinch
  219. Brambling
  220. Serin *
  221. Greenfinch
  222. Goldfinch
  223. Siskin
  224. Linnet
  225. Twite
  226. Lesser Redpoll
  227. Mealy Redpoll
  228. Bullfinch
  229. Hawfinch
  230. Lapland Longspur
  231. Snow Bunting
  232. Yellowhammer
  233. Cirl Bunting
  234. Reed Bunting
  235. Corn Bunting

Moths to end of June

Winter moth

Pale brindle beauty

Mottled umber

Early moth

Common Quaker

Early grey

Hebrew character

Small brindled beauty

March moth

Small Quaker

Clouded drab

Shoulder stripe

Double-striped pug

Oak beauty

Brindled pug

Early thorn

Early toothed-stripe

Emperor moth

Brindled beauty

Dotted chestnut

Powdered Quaker


Frosted green

Shuttle-shaped dart


Waved umber

Nut-tree tussock

Poplar hawkmoth

White ermine

Least black arches

Swallow prominent

Treble lines


Pale tussock

Pale prominent

Coxcomb prominent


Grey pine carpet

Eyed hawkmoth


Flame shoulder

Common swift

Heart and dart

Common footman

Buff ermine

Scorched wing


Large yellow underwing

Double square spot

Treble bar

Common wainscot


Lobster moth

Foxglove pug

Mottled pug

Currant pug

Marbled brown

Ruby tiger

Brown-line bright-eye

Setaceous Hebrew character


Purple bar

Bright-line brown-eye

Brown rustic

Angle shades

Clouded-bordered brindle

Garden carpet

Common carpet

Green carpet

Common pug

Pale-shouldered brocade

Mouse moth

Silver-ground carpet

Marbled minor

Small square-spot

Pale mottled willow

Vine’s rustic

Cabbage moth

Mottled rustic


Spruce carpet

Rustic shoulder-knot

Garden tiger

Orange footman

Great prominent

Lime hawkmoth

Peach blossom

Map-winged swift

Elephant hawkmoth

Beautiful golden Y

Straw dot


Ghost moth


Smoky wainscot

Buff tip

Clouded border

Silver Y

Beautiful hook-tip

Dark arches

Riband wave

Large nutmeg

Clouded silver

The flame

Light emerald

Pine hawkmoth

Dark/grey dagger

Yellow shell

Small dusty wave

Four-dotted footman

Heart and club

Common rustic

Swallow-tailed moth

Micro moths  to end June 2016

  1. Common plume Emmelina monodactyla
  2. Semioscopis steinkellneriana…
  3. Sulphur Tubic Esperia sulphurella…
  4. White shouldered house moth Endrosis sarcitrella
  5. Many plumed moth Aluctia hexadactyla
  6. Garden pebble Evergestis forficalis
  7. Yellow-faced bell Notocella cynosbatella
  8. Large fruit-tree tortrix Archips podana
  9. Rough-winged conch   Phtheochroa rugosana
  10. Brown house moth   Hofmannophila pseudospretella
  11. Triple-blotched bell
  12. Small magpie
  13. Common grey
  14. London dowd Blastobasis lacticolella
  15. Diamond back moth



Butterflies to the end of June   (I don’t know why this is spaced like this but I can’t change it sorry!)

Red admiral



Small tortoiseshell

Speckled wood

Green-vein white

Orange tip

Small white

Holly blue

Small copper

Small heath

Dark green fritillary

Common blue

Small pearl-bordered fritillary

Green hairstreak

Painted lady



Dragon flies

Golden banded dragonfly

Keeled skimmer

Migrant hawker

Black-winged skimmer

Scarce chaser



Azure damselfly

Large red damselfly

Small red damselfly

Blue-tailed damselfly

Banded demoiselle



Mammal list to end of June

  1. Rabbit.
  2. Stoat
  3. Hare
  4. Grey squirrel
  5. Common seal
  6. Roe deer
  7. Red deer
  8. Muntjak deer
  9. Sperm whale
  10. Grey seal
  11. Otter
  12. Weasel
  13. Bank vole
  14. Fallow deer
  15. Red squirrel
  16. Pine marten
  17. Beaver
  18. Daubenton’s bat
  19. Common pipistrelle
  20. Water vole


What lies ahead for July and beyond? Plenty I am sure especially if the summer kicks in soon!

Suffolk tick, Norfolk tick…result!

After some very quiet days things suddenly picked up! We were planning on a lazy Sunday afternoon but a beep from RBA (rare bird alert) announced that a Blue throat had been seen in Lowestoft. We were planning to spend a couple of days in Norwich later this week but that was easily brought forward. So a case quickly packed, binoculars and cameras loaded into the car and we were off.

Once we found the place, just yards from Ness Point,Lowestoft, England’s most easterly point, we heard that the Bluethroat had been showing well but was now missing! Thankfully within the following half an hour she re-appeared, a life tick for us both!IMG_6249

Being a female she lacks the stunning colouring of her male counterpart but she was still a lovely little bird. We stood watching her with our backs to the sea and I assume she had just flown in. Chatting to a local birder there it would seem they have had several cracking birds there!

She was just a bit too far to get decent photos but none the less I was pleased to be able to get the ones I did manage.

We were certainly pleased we had decided to give up a lazy afternoon for this bird and we knew we had a shot at another lifer too. So we decided to go back into Norfolk, to Breydon Water to try for a Caspian tern that has been there for a little while, but we had no luck. It had been showing well until about ten minutes before we arrived when it had flown off! We decided to try again in the morning and we had more luck then. We walked as far as we could to get as close as we could to the bird but it was still a very distant view. Sorry about the photos, they are record shots nothing more than that.

At least it is an unmistakable bird, by far the largest tern and it has a heavy weight bill on it! I think if it was Caspian terns that ‘attacked’ people on the Farne Islands there would be far fewer visitors!!!

Next stop Stumpshaw fen where we hoped to see a Swallowtail butterfly but I can tell you now we failed at that. We did however have a lovely walk and saw some interesting things and a couple of smashing dragonflies. First a few of the bits and bobs, some I can name, others I can’t, not yet at least.

This little one was on a path and we think it is a baby bank vole.

A selection of the bugs we saw and also some Peacock caterpillars. The orange and black one is a Froghopper and the green one is a thick-legged flower beetle (thanks Alan).

I am hoping someone might be able to help me to identify this dragonfly nymph, the bird I do know was a Sedge warbler.

The weather had been disappointing but then out came the sun and with it some rather nice invertebrates. I haven’t seen a Ringlet butterfly for some while so was very pleased to see this one.

This year is the first time we have bothered to ty to identify dragonflies so as far as I know it i sthe first time we have seen these two. The first one is a black-tailed skimmer, it kept dashing by us and we thought we wouldnt get a proper look at it but thankfully later one landed, briefly, nearby.

This second one and in my opinion a far nicer one, is a scarce chaser. We saw a few of these in one small area which we happened upon just as the sun was out shining again.

On our walk we had a nice female pheasant with a couple of youngsters, she seemed unperturbed by our presence.

All in all an excellent couple of days, we were particularly pleased we went for the Bluethroat promptly as it hasn’t been reported again since. That brings us to 235 birds including 20 life ticks!


Meeting the king!

We have had a lovely weekend with Mim and Terry some old friends visiting, catching up and of course putting the world right!

Summer has now arrived but it would seem that the weather doesn’t realise it yet so we are having to take advantage of any breaks in the wet. This morning we thought we would stay local and see if I could get a few photos. I was pleased we did as I have got my first pictures this year of the king, no not Elvis but a Kingfisher!IMG_3164

What a beautiful bird he is, flying by flashing his stunning colours. I am pleased to get the pictures that I did but am aware that a better photographer would have got the action shots that I failed to get! Never mind it gives me a reason to return and try for better!

Considering how brightly he is coloured it is amazing how he can hide, in a tree or flying past, one minute I could see him and the next he was lost.

He would perch then suddenly swoop into the water and find a meal, possibly for young ones as we didn’t see him eat anything himself. He seems to be a good dad as it was only the male that we saw fishing. Maybe they follow the old traditional roles, him the provider out getting the meals and her at home looking after the babies!

The water was alive with small blue damselflies, at first glance they looked like gnats but on closer inspection it became clear. At least hundreds were over the water, constantly on the move. There were also a few of my favourites, banded demoiselles and we saw a couple as we walked later. I have only recently discovered them and I have really fallen for them big time!

We didn’t see anything else very exciting  but here are a few that we did see, a cinnabar moth, a speckled wood butterfly, busy bees, a seven spot ladybird, a Mistle thrush and of course some poppies. That wasnt  acomplaint as any day that provides Kingfishers is a special day for me.

After a rather late lunch I thought I would go and do some jobs in our garden. I should tell you that fourteen years ago it was a patch of earth but it has developed rather nicely over the years until…we took a year out and now it is beginning to resemble a jungle! When we got home from Scotland I was pootling about in the garden, dead heading roses etc when I thought I would see if the budleia was in flower yet, shock horror I couldnt even see the plant! Well I can now report the plant is found and free to breathe and hopefully flower again attracting the butterflies…I hope!

I have noticed though that when I work in the garden something strange happens to time, it slows down. I could swear I worked for about three hours but when I came back in only one hour had passed 😉 oh well at least I got a few bits done.


Great knot

Our plan was to have a couple of ‘at home’ days getting ready for some visitors who are arriving tomorrow but then plans are made to be broken or so I hear!

News soon spread that Titchwell was the home, albeit temporarily to a mega rarity, Great knot only the fifth for the country and only the second for Norfolk. So this morning off we went feeling hopeful and I saw Titchwell as I have never seen it before.  It was very busy but at the same time looked empty!!! No queue for coffee (even we passed by) we walked down the path to the sea no one was birding along the way as usual but when we reached the beach we saw where everyone was.IMG_6101 notice

All telescopes and binoculars were pointing in the same direction, seaward. It took a while for the bird to be relocated but at last there he was but of course so very distant nearly on the shoreline. It was a life tick for us both and bird number 233 for the year. No possibility of a picture of any kind but if it hangs around we will try again. This is a few of the watchers, the line went on for some while, they were only outnumbered by the razor clam shells behind them!

When we got home a note through the door saying there were flowers in the summer house, what a lovely surprise. A gift from Roo and Stu, thank you both. How lovely, they will brighten the house up when we have visitors tomorrow!IMG_6103 flowers crop

The rest of the day has been spent doing a few chores (fewer than I should have done!) and visiting a friend Francesca who like all my friends and some family I have somewhat neglected this year…sorry!

I thought I would take the opportunity to catch up a bit on the moth situation, this year so far we have seen 96 different species. There is no reason for the photos I have chosen it is just to give you an insight into the moth world! The top set of picture show Ruby tiger and Lychnis , next pair are White ermine and Willow beauty and finally Lobster moth and Eyed hawkmoth.

Remember these are but six of the 95 we have had, the variety is amazing and be warned I will feature more another time!

So another good day and seeing Great knot brings my life ticks to 18 which I am very happy with.


Home again.

Three and a half weeks after leaving for our northern adventure we are home and I must say I am really looking forward to sleeping in our own bed!

I have had  a fantastic time and apart from our homeward journey it has all gone so smoothly. We left Southport hoping to go birding on our way homeward but the weather was so awful and there was negative news of the bird we had thought we would go for so we decided to press on. Unfortunately what I assume to be a troubled man decided to climb a gantry over the M1 causing it to be closed for 28 hours and us to be held in awful traffic in torrential rain! We decided to spend the night part way home and maybe try for a tick in the morning.

Morning came and the weather, whilst not brilliant, was looking hopeful. So we, also feeling hopeful, decided to go to Paxton Pits and try to see a Great reed warbler. What a lovely site it is, one I am certain we will return to and best of all we got sight of the bird, a life tick for us both! No picture of the bird I’m afraid but a couple of views from the site.

We saw a pair of Great crested grebes, many, many tufted ducks and other birds one might expect there. Common terns were nesting on a secure platform, it intrigues me that bird know where they are safe!

We also saw some lovely damselflies and dragonflies too, all in all a good detour! I thought this might have been the Beautiful demoiselle but now I am sure it is a Banded demoiselle but despite the name it is still a beauty!  When seen in flight they look like butterflies, I think because of the dark wings.IMG_6012 banded demoiselle

Now pardon the intrusion but mating damsel/dragonflies are fascinating! First a pair of ‘blue’ damsels, not 100% sure which type these are yet so I will correct this when I find out.IMG_6046 damselflies mating

Next a pair of Migrant Hawker dragonflies, there were none in sight until the sun peeped out then they all came out ‘to play’.IMG_6053 Migrant hawker pair

We were just about to leave Paxton when Ian spotted a Painted Lady. I have to tell you about something I saw today that was a definite first for me, mining bees! They are tiny bees that live on a hill and bore hole. As soon as one landed it was gone like a flash down in one of the pre drilled tunnels. They were certainly different and I intend to see them again.

So our visit brought us up to bird number 232.

On the way home we needed to pop to the shops for milk etc, imagine my surprise when our granddaughter, Alice,  was suddenly just outside the car! She was just about to meet up with her dad, but waht a lovely surprise a real treat. Then as we were going into the shop we bumped into a good friend, Trevor, we were really back on home territory

I suspect the next couple of days might be spent catching up with a few chores but then we will be out again to see what Norfolk has been up to while we were away!


A special coffee companion!

We have now seen Southport in the sun and the rain, not hard to guess which I prefer! We walked down to look for the sea last night but we didn’t see it as it goes out further than I have ever seen anywhere. The fact that people ride cars on the beach shows how much space there is. Mind you I am pretty sure the tide must come in very quickly as it seems dead flat so I do wonder if anyone that plays in their cars ever get stuck! The pier stretched out over the beach but was still way short of the sea

We crossed a bridge which gave us a good view of the other one, The Millennium Bridge. Bird of the town would seem to be the Canada goose; there were loads of them including some young ones.

We got something to eat and sat looking out to where we guessed the sea must be when a couple came along, good evening we all said. Pleasant enough but I laugh when I remember what followed, the lady began a conversation which went on, pretty much one sided, and consisted of her telling us about all the local bus routes. What goes where and how long the journeys are, where to change in Preston and oh so much more. She told us about all the place we must visit, (in spite of me telling her we were only here for another day) the cheapest places to buy clothes and goodness knows what else. She was just so funny and even after we had managed to leave she ran after us to tell us that the busses marked with an X were the fastest ones! Bless her she should get a job in the tourist information centre!!!

Today we have continued on our quest to visit WWT sites by going to Martin Mere and we were so very pleased that we did. We got such a lovely welcome and as has been our experience elsewhere the staff were, both friendly and helpful. We hoped to visit all the ones on the mainland and we thought this was number 7 of 8 (ignoring the Irish one) but it turns out they have opened a new one in Somerset! Oh well we shall have to head down there later in the year.

IMG_5923 sign

As usual we bypassed the captured bird side of the site and headed off for the hides that overlook the wild side’, we did however pass the duckling nursery where young ducklings were housed. My eye was caught by one particular type of duckling and I feel unable not to share it with you, so I am breaking my own rule and posting captive birds!!! The name of the bird won’t shock you when you look at the pictures, they are crested ducks. How funny are they?

Martin mere has some rather different looking hides, some new and some on their last legs! One of the newer ones is the Discovery hide and is the main showpiece.  I particularly thought it good that the windows go down so low and lots of small chairs are provided so that the very youngest naturalist can feel welcome. They also had lots of binoculars including little ones so no one needs to be left out of the viewing.

Another rather different hide was the Kingfisher hide, there is no seating and it appears to be held up by a giant mushroom, well I did say it was different. I have been in several Kingfisher hides this year and so far not one has produced the bird suggested! IMG_5936 kingfisher hide

There were plenty of Black headed gulls, including this fine looking youngster. Also including this one that was taking advantage of someone leaving a few bits on their plat eat lunch time!

There were also an unusually large number of Shell duck although we saw no young ones. We did however come across this Mallard family, totally unperturbed by us passing by.

Another really impressive hide is the Harrier hide, how cool is this?!IMG_5975 Harrier hide

It looks super as you approach it and is a lovely hide to view from, well once I could get up onto the rather high seats! We also saw a good amount of bird life from there including a Reed warbler which was new for the year, bird number 231. There was a good supply of Herons and a pair of nesting Great crested grebe; you could see the eggs as they did a changeover.

Another hide was nameless and not on the map and we understand is to be removed soon. It certainly was in a very sorry state of repair but it obviously had been fantastic in its day. On enquiry we discovered its length, 75 metres long, amazing, if there was a hide on a cruise ship this would be the design! It overlooked water where we understand in the winter is visited by many swans, I think the new Discovery hide probably views similar water.IMG_5967 hide 75 mtrs

Although it has been a fairly warm day there has been little sunshine and that may be the reason for the lack of butterflies and dragonflies etc. never mind we did well for them yesterday. The views around the site were lovely and I must admit Martin mere scored pretty high on my list of WWT sites!

I have saved the best till last and that is to tell/show you about a visitor we had as we sat outside drinking a coffee. I have never seen a Swallow so tolerant of humans. We were sat at a table when this fella landed, he stayed and stayed, flew off and came straight back. What a rare treat and rarer still that I had camera to hand!


IMG_3036 Swallow

We are back at our hotel now and the rain looks to have set in, I am just grateful that it stayed dry for our Martin mere visit. I think we are probably in for the night so I may get this post earlier than usual, there is the off chance we may venture out to the cinema but I feel that our enthusiasm is waning a little.

So today has been the first full day of my life that I have spent in Lancashire and I can honestly say it has been very good. As for tomorrow what county we may be in we have no idea at the moment, no bed booked we are just going to wait and see which birds tempts us off in pursuit!


England here we come

Farewell to Ardwhin Cottage, Lochdon, Mull and of course to Ruth, Stu and Sprocket! Few final shots of a hooded crow before we return down south to our jet black version.IMG_5792 Ardwhin an all

Not far to Craignure to wait for the ferry, it fascinated me watching it come in and open up ready for the cars to unload and fresh ones board.

Just a few scenes from our trip across to Oban, not so sunny for the return journey but dry and warm enough. We saw a group of Guillemot on the water and later the odd black one. We said our goodbyes as we got back into the cars ready to go our different ways; we have loved sharing this past week with family.

We began the journey down to visit some dear friends in Moffatt, a last minute arrangement. It is safe to say the weather had changed! Gone was the beautiful sunshine to be replaced with grey skies with intermittent very heavy downpours!

We were delighted to be able to have a chance to meet, albeit briefly, with our friends who we hadn’t seen for about two years. The older I get the more I value friendship. Whatever life may throw it is good to find the people unchanged even though outward circumstances may have changed dramatically.

So off on the last short leg of the day’s journey to Dumfries. We were checked into a nice little hotel, Rivendell, with a very nice room and an exceedingly comfortable four poster bed! I slept better last night than I have for some time. We found a nice little Italian place around the corner to go and get a very welcome meal.IMG_5795 Rivendell

Up and out this morning in search of Caerlaverock WWT the sixth of their sites we have visited this year (another tomorrow). The weather looked decidedly iffy but we were fortunate and it stayed dry. We knew they would be emptying moth traps today and were keen to see if they had any new owns for us. They were a friendly group and made us feel included. We saw several that were new for the year and a few that are new altogether.

The peach-blossom moth was one I have been waiting to see so was very pleased when they came out of the trap. Also this Map-winged swift, I hadn’t even heard of that one! The next new one was, I think, a ghost moth and the last one pictured here wasn’t new but only the second garden tiger we have seen and we are still waiting to see one at home!


When mothing was finished we walked all around the site visiting firstly the Sir Peter Scott hide, not quite as posh as the one at Welney but not too shabby! I also include several views from around the site; can you see what they have in common?


A lack of birds! Oh well yet again right place, wrong time but it was still good to see the place and who know we may return one day. I did see this poor little Jackdaw chick, out of its nest a tad early. The parents were around but not paying it too much attention, hopefully they will do their duty and take care of it.

I was rather taken with these Longhorn cattle but I can tell you I wouldn’t be walking through any field they were lose in!

. Apart from moths we also saw a few damselflies and thankfully someone was alongside to tell me what they were! Firstly Azure Damselfly the male and female in one shot! Then the Blue-tailed damselfly male and the female too. A painted lady butterfly flew past as we were watching the damselflies.

I must say all the people working there were delightful, especially Heather on the shop/reception desk. What a lovely chat I had with her while Ian grabbed a short nap in the car. This rather emperor dragonfly made from Lego caught my eye as we were chatting and I have a feeling a few members of my family might have rather liked it!

After our visit to Caerlaverock we headed for Southport where we are staying for two nights. Hotel looks good, although it lacks the charm of last night’s one! After checking in we decided to go for a walk and see a bit of what Southport has to offer but I think I will leave that for tomorrow’s blog when we have seen a bit more.




Mulling it over

Our last full day on Mull and again the sun has been shinning. Roo, Stu and Sprocket were up with the lark and out hunting for otters, sadly no luck! We spent the day at Lochdon, Ian and I went for a local walk this morning before the sun got too hot.

The week has been lovely, the cottage is in the perfect setting and I am happy to recommend it to anyone heading this way. The local views change so much with the tide as seen here.

The position on the island is good too and tomorrow the journey to the ferry is a short one. The cottage has been very comfortable although I suspect anyone tall my have difficulties, even I have banged my head!!!

We have been out for a couple of walks, and we have seen a new butterfly, unless we are wrong it is a Small pearl-bordered fritillary and lovely it is too!

We also got a short view of this little butterfly but sadly only closed, we are fairly sure it is a Holly blue. IMG_5747 holly blue

Next we found a new dragonfly, a more subtle fella than the Golden-ringed dragonfly earlier in the week but in my opinion just as spectacular! A Keeled skimmer a totally new one to me (once again if I am wrong on the ID please let me know).IMG_5767  Keeled Skimmer

This afternoon, as seems usual for Mull, the skies were blue and today we were treated to a fly by from a couple of Buzzards. Also today we saw a Buzzard in a small wooded area just up the road from us. On our first walk, on the day we arrived Stu spotted a bird also in the wooded area by the time we were all looking in the right direction there was much wing action and he was off through the trees thus not giving us a clear view. All we knew was it was huge! We were left with the frustration of not knowing but wondering, could it have been a Golden eagle? Now a few days later we saw a pair of Goldens so as far as lists are concerned it doesn’t matter but it would have been good to know. The reaction when we saw the Buzzard was that it seemed half the size of the other bird…we will never know for sure.

Well it is 8pm and we have just enjoyed our meal, Ian and I are heading for the conservatory to see what may fly by tonight. Roo and Stu have just gone off on a Kayak again so I thin I will grab a camera ready for any eventuality!

They are going well but way over the far side of the Loch, too far for pictures.

So I am sitting here mulling over our time on Mull, it has been brilliant. Not a lot of bird ticks but the quality makes up for the quantity, two types of eagles and a crake, not too shabby! Also been the best place, I think for invertebrates, with moths, butterflies and dragonflies. Of course lovely wild flowers thrown in for good measure

Mull is just so beautiful and we have certainly been blessed with fantastic weather, our only problem has been getting too hot and especially making sure little Sprocket keeps cool so we really can’t complain at that!

They have come back nearer our side of the loch so time to get the camera on the go!

Having Roo, Stu and Sprocket with us on Mull has of course been the best part, nothing beats time with family, thanks for joining us.

Off to Iona

A quick look over Loch Don first thing showed the Sandpiper just by our cottage so I couldn’t resist a couple more shots in the beautiful early light.

The plan was made last night, today we were off to Iona and we planned to catch the 9.55 ferry, did we? We did not!

Was it because we were late up or slow to get ready? No! Maybe there was a traffic jam? No! The truth of the mater is I saw two chaps pulled up at the side of the road looking up at the cliffs. Window down I asked if they were watching an eagle or hoping to. They replied that no hope was needed they were watching two Golden eagles! So we pulled off the road(not easy to do on Mull) and looked up, there they were high on the cliff top. Just then a rain shower arrived! As you will see form the one picture I put here photographing them was a lost cause but even with the naked eye they could be see. IMG_2938 golden eagle

On to Fionnphort and we caught the next ferry over to Iona and there was no more sign of rain although it was, as forecast, a little  cooler today. We hoped to see or at least hear the Corncrake which Iona is famous for. We tried first behind the fire station which can be a lucky place for them but not today.

We walked back past the jetty and had a good walk beyond the abbey (we didn’t visit it this time) up to the north coast of the island. On the way we saw a pair of my favourite bird, Wheatear. The male was in such tip-top condition that I had to look twice to make sure that was what they were!

We arrived at the beach where some frolicked, all at lunch and one dug in the sand, guess who that was!IMG_5563 sprocket

The coast line is beautiful and I loved the colours in the rocks.

Roo has just sent me this picture, of course we knew she was taking one with the aid of the time delay but hadn’t realised the clever set up!image

There were plenty of sheep on Iona and they had plenty of lambs. We have seen this breed around the island and are rather taken with them.

On the way to the beach we, of course, visited the local shops mostly selling crafts. We saw lots of nice things but largely resisted temptation. We also stopped for coffee were this little Robin made me think of home, hope you like him Alice. The old kitchen machinery was in the garden there.

On our walk, there and back we did not hear one call from the Corncrake, bother we had really hoped to get them today. With not too much time till we were planning to return to Mull we heard the unmistakable Corncrake call over and over again. We stood watching, knowing we must be very near to it/them but they didn’t show. Never mind that is typical of the crake so we were satisfied to have heard it. We could catch the ferry happy!

It is quite a drive across Mull back to our cottage and on the way we saw another eagle flying, beautiful. When we reached the spot where we had seen the eagles earlier this morning there were several cars there so I guess the word was out!

We are now back in our cottage listening to rain falling but as Roo has been busy in the kitchen and I can smell chilli so I am happy to go nowhere else tonight!

The Corn crake brought our bird count to 230, very happy with that.

Float like a butterfly

You can never be sure when booking accommodation if it will be as described but we certainly have no complaints. These are views from the conservatory at the front of the house, it I sever changing and we have had some excellent sightings already!

The top pictures show our view at high tide, the ones below show what happens when someone pulls the plug out!

As well as spectacular views we have lovely weather, a perfect combination. After breakfast today we went for a drive, Roo at the wheel, up a narrow, bending and sometimes very steep road. All was going smoothly until we met a serious of bends on a particularly steep part and it was all too much for the car and the driver too to be honest. Roo did some skilful manoeuvres and we drove back down a little way before parking ans getting going on our walk.

As well as a tribute to Mohammad Ali this title was chosen because we fund a beautiful butterfly on our walk.IMG_5071 dark green fratilary

I am certain it is a fritillary and are leaning towards a dark green one, even though it isn’t green! Please if you know will you confirm this or put me right. This is the only photo I got but did get a little video.

We nearly lost Roo but…she popped out again! Sprocket looked very proud of himeslf when we reached the turn around point of the walk.

We saw some lovely birds including, Spotted flycatchers, Whitethroats and of course meadow pipits. IMG_2758

After returning to the car we had our lunch and began the journey home making stops for pictures of course. These highland cattle caught our eye.Then we saw our holiday home accross the Loch. The house on the left of the three is ‘ours’.

This red deer stood watching us as we were watching it!IMG_5034 red deer

Home, kettle on for a well earned cuppa and then later ian and I went for a stroll just up the road beside our loch looking for butterflies. We did find a few though none of them new, green-veined white, small heath and speckled wood, also a small red damsel fly. I have never notice bog cotton before this holiday but I keep seeing it now and really like it.

The picture looks accross the loch and shows the house we were by when I took the photo of our house!IMG_5169

Later on this heron landed and stayed feeding in front of our house for quite a while, it was a shame that the light was all wrong.

The conservatory gets very hot in the day but is excellent to sit in, looking our later in the day. Tonight we all got a good view of a Hen harrier and also a Red-breasted merganser.

Well ng this tonight but I hope it still amkes sense! Not sure what we are doing tomorrow but I bet we will have fun!