We’ve seen so many photos of Cuckoo on social media that we decided to go to Thursley Common in Surrey to see what the fuss was about. We saw a few birds of note: a Female Common Redstart, Male Stonechat & a Mistle Thrush. The star bird of the day was Colin the Male Cuckoo. Even though they are still fairly common Summer Visitors to Britain, we have had real trouble of seeing them. However, seeing this bird at close quarters is something we don't get to see very often. If and when I do see a Cuckoo in the wild, they are only likely to be distant & miles away. We also saw a Cinnabar Moth on the common, a Common Lizard & Four-spotted Chasers. On the way back home, we popped to Greenham Common near Newbury to look for Woodlarks. We sadly didn't see any, mind you we were a month later than last time. A few Meadow Pipits & Green-winged Orchids were present on the common.
Farmoor Reservoir & Otmoor RSPB 13th May 2018
We were on our way to Otmoor RSPB to see our first Turtle Doves of the year, when a report from Rare Bird Alert said about a Black-necked Grebe has been seen at Farmoor Reservoir. The bird had been feeding in the south western corner of the reservoir & showed really well. It then flew over to the pontoons, where it continued feeding close to the bank. It was the first time I have seen a Black-necked Grebe in flight & the wings made a high pitch whistling sound. The bird was also in stunning Breeding Plumage, the golden fans on side of the head gives it the American name of Eared Grebe. I even managed to photograph it fly catching on the water. On our way to the car, we saw a Greylag Goose eating Buttercups! A Female Pied Wagtail was foraging on the bank.
We popped to Otmoor RSPB in the afternoon for the Turtle Dove. Near the path, me & Dad saw a group of Lackey Moth Caterpillars. We spotted a Turtle Dove calling & sitting in the Oak Tree. Sadly Turtle Doves are still being shot on migration & if there's only 1 bird on the reserve, then the future of this incredible bird is bleak. Other wildlife seen during our visit were Hobbies, Reed Warbler, Four-spotted Chaser, Greylag Geese, Lapwings, Curlew, Red Kite, Common Whitethroat, Orange Tip, Linnets, Mallards & Common Pheasants. Later in the day, the Turtle Dove perched on top of the telegraph post before flying in to the paddock. It spent a few minutes feeding, before heading off to roost. We heard of couple of Cuckoos calling, sometimes sounding very near, but we didn’t see either of them.
Rodborough Common 7th & 12th May 2018
Me & Dad popped out to Rodborough Common to look for the Duke of Burgundy Butterley on Bank Hoilday Monday 7th. We saw Green Hairstreak, Mother Shipton & Burnet Campanion. Also plenty of Early Purple Orchids, but no Dukes. We went back on Saturday 12th, we saw Small Heath, Common Heath Moth & a Pasque Flower which is a very rare plant. Sadly the Dukes were not on the wing again during our visit both times.
Llan-mill, Narberth & Dinas RSPB 5th May 2018
We went to Llanmill in Narberth, Pembrokeshire to see this lovely Green Heron from North America. This individual had been feeding in a private garden pond for about a month. This is also a very mega rarity, with the last record of the Heligan bird in October 2010. After sitting on a branch for a long time, it flew towards & landed in the reeds in front of us. It was tucked at the base of the huge bullrush. While, we were waiting for it to show itself again, we saw an Adult Emperor Moth sitting on the windowsill. This Moth has a very intresting sex life. The fact the Males are active by day & the Females are active at Night. So this Female was just roosting & also lacked the feathering antenaes of the Male.
In the afternoon, we walked around the RSPB reserve of Dinas. We saw quite a few Pied Flycatchers setting up their territories. A Garden Warbler was filtting through the bushes & singing. We eventually managed to get excellent views of a Male Wood Warbler singing. There was at least 2-3 birds present in the area. The Male Common Redstart was a bit more shyer & kept it's distant. All in all, it was a very enjoyable day out in Wales.