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Tuesday 26th June 2018

We headed to down to Corfe Castle to meet up with the Naturetrek group. We popped into Arne RSPB for a cup of tea, before continuing our journey. A few Meadow Browns were in the carpark. A House Sparrow was also in the carpark, having a dust bath. Not long after passing Norden, Steam loco no 80104 was seen on the approach to Corfe Castle Station.  

After meeting up with the Naturetrek group, we headed off to Durlston Head Country Park. We met with our guide at the visitor centre & he took us on a tour around part of the site. First bird we saw was a Sandwich Tern diving below the cliff. A excellent number of Six-spot Burnet Moths were flying along the coast path, also a few Skipper Butterflies.
Below the cliffs were Razorbills & Common Guillemots on the water. Also a fly by Common Kestrel. A few Pyramidal Orchids were still in flower and a young Carder Bee was nectaring on the flowers. A few Marbled Whites were flying around the meadows and lots more Six-spot Burnet Moths. We saw quite a few of the pupa cases of the Burnet Moths. Red Soldier Beetles were in good numbers around the meadow on Cow Parsley with a couple of Large Skippers. A pair of Bloody-nosed Beetles were mating on the path. Mum moved them them somewhere safer so they wouldn’t get stepped on. Afterwards, we made our way back to the hotel for our early dinner. After dinner, we headed to Arne RSPB to meet up with the RSPB warden for a Nightjar walk. We headed up to Coombe Heath to have a look. A few Spotted Flycatchers were seen at dusk. On the top of the heath, we found roosting Silver-studded Blues, Spoonbill, Fox, Sika Deer, Tree Pipit & a singing Dartford Warbler [not seen]. Sadly no Nightjars at Coombe Heath. However, in a private part of the reserve, we saw at least 3 birds. A Male was churring on branch in front of us & gave fantastic views. A Tawny Owl was also heard calling in the woods nearby. We made our way back to our comfy hotel as we had an early start in the morning.

Dorset 26th June-2nd July 2018

Wednesday 27th June 2018

After an early breakfast, we headed out to Arne RSPB to meet up with RSPB warden Chris & volunteer Frankie for our Reptile walk around the heath. Chris is licensed to handle reptiles including the rare Smooth Snake. We saw a Female Black-tailed Skimmer, Mottled Grasshoppers, Greater Bag-worm Moth, Dartford Warbler, Coal Tit, Common Toad, Stonechats, Emperor Moth Caterpillars, Common Kestrel, Meadow Browns, & Small Heath. We sadly only saw one reptile during that morning, which was a Slow Worm quickly disappearing underground. Chris checked all the other tins on the site, but nothing. Under the very last tin he said he had found a Male and Female Smooth Snake last Saturday, before our visit. So we all crossed our fingers. Unfortunately, the closest we could get to a Smooth Snake, was an old shedded skin. It was a bit disappointing, but Chris also felt bad at not being able to find us any. Problem was that it was just too hot for reptiles even with an early start. After the morning Reptile walk we headed back to Corfe Castle  for lunch and a bit of free time, while some of the others went to Wareham. A Song Thrush was smashing a snail in the hotel gardens. We had something to eat in Corfe Castle Cafe and then popped down to the railway Station to see 80104 on a few service trains with 33111.

Meeting back up with group later, we headed back to Arne RSPB for the afternoon & saw a Male Southern Hawker in the car park. We walked towards Shipstal Point & along the way were Grey Squirrels, Large Skippers, Long- tailed Tits and a few other birds. We saw Oystercatchers, Common Shelducks, Canada Geese, Ringed Plovers, Great Black-backed Gull & Curlews from the point. I also saw a Sand Wasp on the beach at Shipstal. On the way back to the car park, a herd of Sika Deer were grazing in the field. A Male Green Woodpecker was feeding in the gardens by the farm, until it was flushed by a Sparrowhawk catching a Starling. Back in the car park, a Comma perched in a bush with it's wings closed. Afterward we made our way back the Mortons Hotel at Corfe Castle for the evening.

Thursday 28th June 2018

We headed to Weymouth & Portland for a day's birdwatching. We stopped first at Lodmoor RSPB for a walk around the reserve. We saw at least 10 Mediterranean Gulls, Common Terns, Tufted Ducks, Mallards, Marsh Harriers, Reed Bunting, Goldfinch, Reed Warbler & House Sparrows. We sadly didn't see or hear any Bearded Tits here. On the way back some of us took the wrong footpath and were on a different side of the hedge to the others. We passed the shelter so we quickly popped in to have a look and we saw a few Common Terns perched on the posts before leaving.

We next headed to Radipole Lake RSPB to have a look for Bearded Tits there. We saw a stunning Summer plumage Great Crested Grebe by the visitor centre bridge. A Scarlet Tiger Moth was feeding on flowers along the main path. We eventually saw a couple of Juvenile Bearded Tits briefly in the reeds. On the way back to the car park, we saw some Brown Bee Orchids by the path. We had lunch at Portland Bill overlooking the sea before exploring for a couple of hours. We saw a Rock Pipit on the edge of the rocks by the lighthouse. A few Butterflies were on the wing including Small White, Marbled Whites, Meadow Browns & Skippers. The Cow Parsley housed more Red Soldier Beetles. A few more Pyramidal Orchids were in flower. Mum and I went for a wander on our own and we saw a family of Northern Wheatears foraging on the rocks. Just when we were about to leave, a family of Ravens fed by the car park. We headed up on a even longer journey to the Poacher's Inn in the Pittewell Valley, where we had our dinner before spending an evening Badgerwatching. While we were in the hide, we were entertained by a Fox & Tawny Owl. They had been coming quite early and still in the daylight, but not tonight unfortunately. After a long wait, the Badgers emerged from their sett, but were partly obscured by the long grass. Even though it is floodlit, they never got into the light enough for a photo. Time was getting on, and we had a long journey back to our hotel at Corfe, so we had to call it a night. We were a bit disappointed, but with wildlife watching that’s the way it goes sometimes.


After Dad picked us up, we popped to Arne RSPB for a quick a cup of tea before they closed for the day. We then walked up to Coombe Heath to see if the Nightjars were about that evening. A couple of Silver-studded Blues were roosting on the Heather. Loads of Sika Deer were still present. We unfortunately missed the Dartford Warbler singing on top of the gorse bush that Mum saw. Me & Dad walked around the rest of the reserve, but nothing. We heard the Nightjars churring on the private side of the reserve & saw one fly past. We then headed to the B&B at Stoborough.

Saturday 30th June 2018

We headed to Higher Hyde Nature Reserve near Wareham to see if there were any Reptiles. We saw some Silver-washed Fritillaries on the wing, Grass Snakes & Slow Worm, Black-tailed Skimmers & Silver-studded Blues. We explored around Middlebeare Heath looking for Dartford Warblers. We saw more Burnet Moths & a Golden-ringed Dragonfly. A couple of Stonechats were on the heath. We walked down to the hide and saw the Spoonbill preening on the edge of the creek with the Black-headed Gulls. In the sightings book there was a Woodlark at 10:45 & 12:00. On the way back to the car, we kept a lookout for a Woodlark, but no joy. A Comma was resting by the path. We heard a Dartford Warbler singing close to the top path, but saw only its head before it flew away. We headed back to Wareham for a walk to Swineham viewpoint. Sadly we didn't see much in the way of Wildlife. It was still very hot and that was probably why things were staying hidden in the shade. In the evening, we went on a walk on Stoborough Heath. A Female Stonechat was feeding youngsters nearby. It was a good place for Nightjars. After hearing a few distant flight calls, we were rewarded with some excellent flight views around the heath and even over our heads, as well as some churring Males. We also heard a strange call, which sounded like Terns!!!

It was probably the sound of Nightjar Chicks.

Sunday 1st July 2018

The Sika Deer were outside the garden at the B&B this morning, so we went out to see them after breakfast. We then headed back to Higher Hyde to have a look for some more Reptiles. We saw Grass Snake, Slow Worm, Common Lizard and eventually a pair of Sand Lizards.

On the way to Portland we stopped at Ferrybridge. We saw a few Ringed Plovers & Dunlins plus a Mediterranean Gull from the visitor centre. Me & Dad walked over to have a better view of Little Terns flying over the beach. Afterwards we headed to Portland Bill. We scanned the sea from Pulpit Rock. We saw Common Guillemots & a Shag flying past. A flock of Common Guillemots were on the water. We saw a family of Linnets near the car park but no Wheatears today. We had lunch on the bill. While we were waiting to served, a Raven was foraging around by the cafe, before flying off. After lunch, we started to make our back to Weymouth. As we were about to go through the town, Mum looked on Rare Bird Alert and saw that a Large Tortoiseshell Butterfly had been reported on the island. We managed to find where it had been sighted by the old railway line to the quarry. We saw the Butterfly feeding on the Valerian in the old railway cutting and it gave excellent views. Unlike the Small Tortoiseshell, it has four spots on it's forewings and a lighter orangey/yellow. This species is from Southern Europe & is a rare vagrant here. Top Butterfly!! We had a quick look at Lodmoor RSPB at the Common Terns feeding their Chicks, Black-headed Gulls, Marsh Harrier and 1 Mediterranean Gull. We headed back to Arne RSPB to have another look for the Dartford Warbler. However just as we got there, the heavens opened which stopped us venturing out to Coombe Heath & on that note, we headed back to the B&B.

Thursday 5th

We popped into Cors Dyfi Osprey Project to see how the Ospreys were doing. Glesni never came back this year and Blue 24 had gone to another area to breed, so there was a new female on the nest with Monty. The chicks were due to be ringed the following week and were doing well.

Yorkshire 5th-10th July 2018

Osprey [Family]

White-letter Hairstreak

Friday 6th

Ruth & Alan of The Biggest Twitch picked us up from our B&B and we headed off to pick Ray up. We had lunch in Howden meeting the others that were joining us there. After lunch, our first stop was the YWT reserve of North Cave Wetlands. We saw a couple of Great Crested Grebes, Juv Mediterranean Gull, House Sparrow, Juvenile Great Tit, Juvenile Robin, Marbled White, Chaffinch, Black-headed Gulls, Little Grebes, Mute Swan, Common Snipe & a presumed escaped Black Swan.

We then headed to our accommodation at Buckton near Bempton Cliffs RSPB. In the evening before dinner, we went to Flambrough Head for a bit of seawatching. A Long-tailed Skua was spotted flying north past the cliffs distantly, but sadly me & Mum missed it. We saw a couple of Gannets flying past & Fulmars nesting and also flying. A Grey Seal was swimming below and a few Kittiwakes flew past below the cliffs.

After watching the seabirds for a while we headed off for our evening meal.

Tuesday 10th

Dad joined us in the B&B at Llandudno the previous evening. So after breakfast, we headed off to explore the isle of Angelsey. We started at South Stack RSPB looking for Choughs. We saw Common Blue Butterfly & Graylings, but no Choughs. There was a Rock Pipit feeding young & Mum saw a Lizard on the wall. We headed along the coastline to look for the Choughs. We managed to find a solitary bird feeding in one of the fields. After a while it took off calling.

We moved to another bit of coastline at Cemlyn Bay NWWT reserve. There are good number of Sandwich Terns that breed here. A few of both Common & Arctic Terns were here as well. A couple of Sandwich Terns were bathing in a shallow pool. Some were flying out to sea & returning to the colony with beakfulls of fish. There were a few recently fledged Juveniles. There was even a pair doing a courtship feeding dance, which is a bit late in the year for that. A Sub Adult Sandwich Tern was present amongst the flock. Afterwards we started to make our way back home after a wonderful few days.

South Stack RSPB Lighthouse

Grayling

Common Blue [Female]

Sandwich Terns

Sandwich Tern [Summer]

Sandwich Tern [Sub Adult]

Common Tern [Summer]

Sandwich Terns

Sandwich Terns with Juvenile

Monday 9th

We loaded up the minibus and started on our journey home. But not before visiting another RSPB reserve, this time at Backtoft Sands. A couple of Juvenile Long-tailed Tits were feeding in the car park givinf everyone excellent views. From the Visitor Centre we saw Marsh Harriers doing a food pass, Juvenile Bearded Tits, Garganey & Teal. At times we didn’t know which way to look as so much was happening at once. From the nearby Xerox Hide, we had another view of the Garganey, also Ruff & Spotted Redshank. We then went to Marshland Hide & a pair of Juvenile Greenshanks showed well feeding in front. Avocet were feeding at the back with 2 hatched chicks & a Juvenile Bearded Tit was in the reeds behind. A couple of Spoonbill suddenly made an appearance out of the reeds. This is proably the first time I have photographed Juvenile & Adult together, except in a flock. We had good views of a Male Marsh Harrier from the Singleton Hide and from the next, we saw a pair of Green Sandpipers. On our way back to the car park, we saw a Sedge Warbler siinging on top of an umbellifer. Back in the car park, a Juvenile Robin was hopping about and a Brown Hare walked across the path. We then started to head back. Thanks to Ruth & Alan for leading & personal thanks to Ray, Richard, Paul & Shirley for their company.

Long-tailed Tit [Juvenile]

Spotted Redshank

Greenshank [Juvenile]

Greenshank [Juvenile]

Marsh Harrier [Male]

Sedge Warbler [Male]

Greenshank [Juvenile]

Eurasian Spoonbill [Juvenile & Summer Adult]

Sunday 8th

After breakfast, we headed northwards to the forest of Wykeham. It was a short walk to the Raptor watchpoint, so we all carried a foldup chair to sit on as we might have a long wait. Almost immediately we had settled down we saw a distant Goshawk flying over the trees. A Tree Pipit singing on top of a conifer kept us entertained. Some Common Crossbills flew over twice calling all the time. We also saw Coal Tit and Siskin. But the star bird was the Honey Buzzard, which is a rare Summer Visitor. As their name suggests, they feed mainly on Bees and Wasps. There were at least 3-4 birds seen during the morning. . The Male displayed to the Female several times during our visit. We sat in the sun watching them and having our picnic lunch.
In the afternoon, we returned to Bempton Cliffs RSPB for a second look. Common Guillemots, Razorbills, Kittiwakes, Puffins & Gannets all showed well on the cliff face. A few Feral Pigeons were noted, sadly not true Rock Doves. One Guillemot Chick was waiting on the edge of the cliff, for the parent to come back with food. A few larger Herring Gulls also patrolled the cliff. We also Razorbill chicks. Then it was one final look at the lovely Tree Sparrows that were around the Visitor Centre & cafe area before heading back.

Razorbill [Summer]

Honey Buzzard [Male]

Feral Pigeon

Feral Pigeon

Razorbill [Summer]

Common Guillemot [Summer]

Kittiwake [Summer]

Gannet [2nd Year]

Atlantic Puffin [Summer]

Razorbills [Summer]

Kittiwakes & chicks

Tree Sparrows

Saturday 7th

After we had breakfast early, we headed a short way to the RSPB reserve of Bempton Cliffs. This superb reserve looks over the North Sea. The Tree Sparrows were around the Visitor Centre, but there were no feeders this year for the Sparrows to feed on. There were loads of Common Guillemots, a few Razorbills & Kittiwakes with nearly grown Juveniles. Ringlets were on the wing around the reserve. Mum and I left the others for a while and went to look for a real special bird - the Grasshopper Warbler. This member of the Locustella Warbler, sounds very similar to the Savi's Warbler but slightly higher. We had been hearing it for most of the morning, but it was proving difficult to see. We walked along the hedgerow listening for it and eventually we managed to see it when it suddenly flew to the top of a bush just by us and started to sing. The song is supposed to resemble a fisherman's rod reeling. Afterwards it flew back down into the grass & sang from deep cover. But we had amazing close views of it. There were loads of Gannets flying around the cliffs of Bempton in various stages of plumage. Some were 2nd Year birds, 3rd Years, 4th Years or Sub Adults & mainly Adults. A few had newly hatched chicks. Puffins on Bempton are usually only in small numbers, compared to the Farnes. More Tree Sparrows showed by the cafe. A couple of Male Reed Buntings were singing in the field and some Fulmars cruised up & down the cliff. After seeing the Gannets, we started to make our back to the Visitor Centre. The temperature was getting very high so we made our way back to our accommodation for the afternoon spotting a Little Owl on the way. It was decided to have a rest and watch England playing in the World Cup on TV before going out for our evening meal.

Tree Sparrow [Adult]

Grasshopper Warbler [Male]

Grasshopper Warbler [Male]

Kittiwake [Summer]

Razorbill [Summer]

Common Guillemot [Summer]

Atlantic Puffin [Summer]

Tree Sparrow [Adult]

Gannet [2nd Year]

Fulmar

Kittiwake [Summer]

Gannet with chick

Little Owl

Marbled White

Great Tit [Juvenile]

Robin [Adult]

Grey Seal

Fulmar

Kittiwake [Summer]

Gannet [Adult]

Flambrough Head  

House [Male]

Lulworth Skipper

Common Kestrel [Female]

Pyramidal Orchid  

Marbled White

Six-spot Burnet Moth

Bloody-nosed Beetle

Nightjar [Male]

Silver-studded Blue [Male]

Emperor Dragonfly [Male]

Black-tailed Skimmer [Female]

Mottled Grasshopper [Male]

Longhorn Calf & Cow

Greater Bag-worm Moth

Common Toad

Small Skipper

Comma

Sand Wasp

Green Woodpecker [Male]

80104 at Corfe Station with the castle behind

Mediterranean & Black-headed Gulls

Common Tern [Summer]

Common Tern [Summer]

Feral Pigeon

Great Crested Grebe [Summer]

Scarlet Tiger Moth

Bearded Tit [Juvenile]

Bee Orchids

Rock Pipit [Summer]

Marbled White

Marbled White

Northern Wheatear [Juvenile]

Silver-studded Blue [Male]

Friday 29th June 2018

We started our day with a visit to Hardy's Monument above the small village of Portesham. Some of us went up to the top for a bird's eye view of the surrounding area. We then moved on Abbotsbury, for a walk to St Catherine's Chapel. The last stop on the tour was at Burton Bradstock, where we had lunch in a lovely outdoor restaurant with stunning sea views . We set off back towards Corfe Castle via Dorchester, where we dropped Janet off to catch the train back to Nottinghamshire. The rest of us went back to the hotel to say our goodbyes and Dad was waiting for us there. It was a marvellous holiday. Big thanks to Byron & Alison for leading the tour, also thanks to Charles, Richard, Fleur, Rory, Peter, Jerry, Janet, Brenda & Lucy for their enjoyable company.

Sliver-studded Blue at sunset

Silver-studded Blue [Male]

Silver-studded Blue [Male]

Keeled Skimmer [Male]

Common Darter [Female]

Silver-washed Fritillary [Male]

Black-tailed Skimmer [Male]

Silver-studded Blue [Female]

Silver-studded Blue [Male]

Six-spot Burnet Moth

Comma

Sand Lizard [Male]

Slow Worm

Silver-washed Fritillary [Male]

Mediterranean Gull [Summer]

Sand Lizard [Female]

Common Lizard

Linnet [Juvenile]

Large Tortoiseshell

Large Tortoiseshell

Sika Deer

The Group at Wykeham Forest viewpoint. Photo The Biggest Twitch

Arne RSPB 2nd July 2018

Our final day in Dorset was spent at Arne RSPB, looking for Dartford Warblers. We had brief glimpses, but they were not perching on top of the gorse bushes. We heard a couple singing around the reserve, but we couldn't locate where they were.We saw loads of Dragonflies & Damselflies by the pond. Keeled Skimmers, Four-spotted Chasers, Small Red Damselflies, Azure Damselflies & Common Blue Damselflies. We headed to Norden Park & Ride Station at the northern end of the Swanage Railway. A few Juvenile Barn Swallows were perched on the wire opposite. The loco in service was T9 number 30120, which is now based on the line having spent a few years at Bodmin in Cornwall. We watched it run round the train, before its return to Swanage. After we watched it depart, we started to make our way back. We were going to have walk around Morden, but as it was too hot we decided to head back home earlier than we would normally do. It’s always nice when the sun is out, but this was hotter than normal temperatures would be for this time of year.

Four-spotted Chaser

Keeled Skimmer [Female]

Small Red Damselflies

Azure Damselflies

Barn Swallow [Juvenile]

Barn Swallow [Juvenile]

30120 at Norden Park & Ride Station

Keeled Skimmer [Male]

Barn Swallow [Male]

We had a quick look by the Dyfi estuary, when I spotted a White-letter Hairstreak in the tree. Afterwards we continued to the B&B in Llandudno, where we said our goodbyes to Dad for the next couple of days and he headed back home.

©  Christopher Teague 2018