With the wind increasing this afternoon and being very jealous of recent events in Cornwall, I set up optimistically on the cliffs hoping for a few Shearwaters. Unfortunately despite imagining being on a Cornish headland, only a single Manx Shearwater was seen bringing everything back to reality.
Totals between 15.15-16.45 are:
Manx Shearwater - 1E
Common Scoter - 10E
Auk sp. - 1E
As the tide was low when I headed out this morning I checked Newhaven Harbour and soon found another juv. Yellow-legged Gull roosting on the sand.
obvious anchor markings in the mantle and scaps are visible when the bird was preening
juv. Yellow-legged Gull at Newhaven Harbour
Afterwards in the Cuckmere I somehow didn't see a Great Skua despite it probably flying across my path at some point whilst I was on site. I've never seen a Skua in the Cuckmere itself so this was slightly frustrating. 13 Dunlin were along the river and a few Sand Martins were trickling through.
Yesterday a few hundred Swift moved west and a very juv. Ringed Plover was found south of the scrape. A few Kittiwakes moving west on a relatively short seawatch yesterday afternoon.
Two families of Stonechats are currently in the scrub south of the scrape
Swift in the Cuckmere - one of a couple of hundred moving west on 28th July
juv Ringed Plover by the scrape - brilliant to see a nearly fledged Ringed Plover at this site
A lovely family camping holiday in The New Forest with Paula and Leo was made even better by me being allowed to head out and see a few bits and bobs. I also took them both on a nightwalk by our campsite where we torched a group of Fallow Deer and some Tawny Owlets that continuously made a racket.
Bog Orchid - despite seeing these twice before, this was a perfect specimen being small, upright and in perfect condition
Keeled Skimmer in The New Forest - very common throughout
A long weekend with Ian Barnard to the Highlands of Scotland with the intentions of finding some new Dragonflies, Orchids and potentially a new Butterfly as well. The weather was better then expected but still wasn't perfect and certainly put pay to finding White-faced Darter and Azure Hawkers, the latter being new for me.
Friday 21st July
However, upon landing into Edinburgh (cheapest option) on Thursday evening we drove up to the Aberdeen coastline to Murcar Beach in the hope of seeing the long staying American White-winged Scoter, but as we hadn't packed tripods to save space and weight we resorted to laying in the wet grass to scan the flocks of Scoter, but over a few hours and the urge to hit to Cairngorms, we failed to find the bird, but had better luck a few days later.
Murcar Beach, Aberdeenshire
Arriving into the Cairngorms the weather had turned for the worse and after trying a few sites we only managed to find a Northern Damselfly and a couple of Highland 'Common' Darters near to Loch Garten, and two Common Hawkers at Uath Lochan, the Hawkers being new for me and represents my 45th Dragonfly/Damselfly in Britain. Despite having sites for both Lesser Twayblade and Small White Orchid we were obviously too late for these but did see plenty of Creeping Lady's Tresses. Also was good to see a Crested Tit, plus hearing several more.
Creeping Lady's Tresses
Highland (Common) Darter
Saturday 22nd July
We stayed in Dingwall which was well placed to drive to Loch Maree The weather was better then expected today although the wind was still strong in places. Our main site for Azure Hawkers was Slattadale and despite finding perhaps 30+ Common Hawkers, we failed to find an Azure Hawker. Further down at Ben Eighe Visitor Centre we had better luck with yet more Common Hawkers, but then lucked into a flighty Scotch Argus (my last British Butterfly to see) and a superb Northern Emerald Dragonfly, the latter I had seen before but not photographed.
female Northern Emerald
We made our way back towards Aberdeen knowing the weather on Sunday wouldn't be suitable for Dragons and would try our luck again for the Scoter.
Sunday 23rd July
As we made our way towards Murcar it was obvious it was misty and grim, especially for laying in more wet grass. However, after spells of heavy rain the conditions cleared slightly and after three hours of scanning a single Scoter flock, I spotted the American White-winged Scoter swim into the group from the south and join a small group of Velvets in front of us. Views were good despite laying down and I even managed some phone-scoped shots of this and a drake Surf Scoter. It was a good end and we made our way back south towards Edinburgh for our flight back to Gatwick. A relatively successful weekend, though earlier in the season would no doubt be more productive.
After yesterdays successful twitch for finally my first Marsh Sandpiper in the UK at Cliffe Pools in Kent (6 Black-winged Stilts also present), I was back on the motorways today slightly further north in Essex to Canvey Island for yet more Dragonfly action. For years I've been wanting to see the Southern Migrant Hawkers that have colonised certain parts of Essex, and most notably on the delightful(??) island of Canvey. Me and Dad left early and arrived on site just after 7am and soon found our first male Hawker. Due to the cloud cover we only managed to see around 10 males, and while most were settled and showing well, by the end of the morning we mostly saw them hunting along the long ditch. Also present were many Scarce Emerald Damselflies. A great morning out.
Despite regular visits to the Cuckmere recently, this evening was the first notable session for migrants. The lower water levels on the meanders doing some good as two juvenile Little Ringed Plovers were present. Other common bits were present but most pleasing were the two young Oystercatchers that have finally spread their wings. How birds like these survive on the scrape is a miracle but this is now the second year running of successful fledging.