Emperor Bird-of-Paradise - Huon Peninsular, Papua New Guinea (July 2019)

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Saturday, 11 July 2020

Knepp Estate 11/07/20

A day spent at Knepp leading another Naturetrek tour proved to be an excellent day. Although birds were difficult to find, we discovered a variety of butterflies, including a superb Brown Hairstreak and a few Purple Emperors; all in all a total of 19 species were seen. The White Storks pleased the crowd too!

Brown Hairstreak

Purple Hairstreak

Beautiful Demoiselle

White Storks

Tuesday, 7 July 2020

Recent Stuff

The past few days I've been back in Sussex as I'm leading several Naturetrek tours within the county; one tour yesterday and plenty more in the coming days/weeks.

On my way over on Sunday, I nipped into one of the traditional sites for Green-flowered Helleborines in West Sussex. Finding a couple of orchids proved to be nice and easy, though getting a decent picture meant laying in the middle of the main road! A Turtle Dove was seen nearby too.

Yesterday, a guided walk on Ashdown Forest produced the normal heathland specialities, though Odonata was most noteworthy with plenty of Golden-ringed Dragonflies, Small Red Damselflies, and a freshy emerged Black Darter.

On Tuesday evening, a walk with Jasper along Peacehaven undercliff produced a juvenile Yellow-legged Gull in with a small gull flock... though they quickly flew off west.

Privet Hawk Moth at Naturetrek HQ

Green-flowered Helleborine in West Sussex

Golden-ringed Dragonflies at Ashdown Forest

Black Darter at Ashdown Forest

Saturday, 4 July 2020

Bempton Cliffs RSPB, Yorkshire

A busy week at work meant I had little or no chance of getting to Yorkshire for the Black-browed Albatross before the weekend. Friday morning was the time to be there as there were some crippling photos emerging; by midday the bird had seemingly disappeared and there was no further sign up until dark. 

The sporadic nature of this bird meant that a visit on Saturday morning was worthy of an attempt, despite the odds very much against a successful twitch. Unfortunately, despite an 8-hour vigil, there was no sign of the albatross. As disappointing as this was, it was still great to view all of the regular occurring seabirds that frequent these steep-sided cliffs. 

Noteworthy sightings for the day was a splendid Long-eared Owl, many Tree Sparrows, and a couple of Harbour Porpoise, the latter directly below the viewpoints. 





Guillemots on the edge

Tree Sparrow

Monday, 29 June 2020

The New Forest – 28/6/20

A short day out with Ian, Jake & Chris at The New Forest produced the ever-reliable Bog Orchids at their usual location. 

Elsewhere, it was great to find a huge number of Silver-studded Blues. Two Golden-ringed Dragonflies, four Woodlarks and a couple of Dartford Warblers were the other noteworthy species.

Bog Orchids

Silver-studded Blue

Friday, 26 June 2020

Cuckmere Haven & Southease – 26/6/20

An early morning vigil in the Cuckmere revealed the start of the autumn migration for me. As well as the Common Sandpiper along the river, a Nightingale was 'croaking' by the scrape and two flocks of Sand Martins (totalling 14 birds) flew straight out to sea. 

Hoping to find some rare dragonflies, I walked a small stretch of reeds north of Southease, though all I could find were a couple of Four-spotted Chasers and an Emperor. The majority of blue damselflies present were Variable Damselflies – probably one of my favourite ‘blues'. The Reed Warblers appeared to have done very well here as several juveniles were spotted; in the river were hundreds of Mullet, all moving upstream in a single line that never stopped all the time I was there.

adult Reed Warbler

juvenile Reed Warbler

Variable Damselfly

Thursday, 25 June 2020

Purple Emperor – 25/6/20

I was up at 4am this morning to see a small colony of Marsh Helleborines on the outskirts of Basingstoke (a permit-only site). Found them with ease, although I only counted 16 spikes; despite such a small site it was great to see so many orchids, with the majority being Southern Marsh Orchids. 

After more sleep, I ventured over to Straits Enclosure (near, or part of the Alice Holt complex) and walked the single track through the wood. Some funny smells down the track led me to scattered shrimp paste that had been deposited by others prior to my arrival. Thankfully for me, a male Purple Emperor glided down and onto the track, soon walking onto the deposit. It stayed 'feeding' for around ten minutes, but when the depositors arrived, I left them to it having had my photographic time with it. 

Further sightings included a family of Spotted Flycatchers, many White Admirals and Silver-washed Fritillaries, and a single Purple Hairstreak. A great morning and I was back indoors by 10.30am.

Purple Emperor

Marsh Helleborine

Tuesday, 23 June 2020

Hampshire Orchids & more Nightjars

Last week I visited a reserve not too far away from Alton, finding a nice range of orchids. Despite the dry spring, the number of Musk Orchids was certainly impressive. 

Last night, a trip to Farnham Heath was worth it as the Nightjars once again performed admirably. A Dartford Warbler and a Hobby were noteworthy, as was a calling Woodcock that flew through when it was too dark to see it.

Musk Orchid


Pyramidal Orchid

Musk Orchids