Last weekend I spent 3 enjoyable days at the British Birdfair - on the Sunday I had spent the morning helping to man the LROS stand with Andy Smith, who had traveled with me to Rutland. Having had a really good last day at the show, we arrived back at my house at 6.15ish pm, absolutely shattered from walking around all weekend. Andy picked up his car and headed for his home at Thornton. I was looking forward to tucking into my salad which the duchess had made for me - which is what I was doing - when I was interrupted by a call from Dave Gray; he was hollering down the phone and obviously in an hurry - ' do you need Gannet for your county list?' 'Yes' I replied, thinking he was still at Rutland ( I certainly wasn't driving all the way back there again that night!) 'Well, there is one at Thornton Reservoir - see you there!' was the reply. A quick call to my mate Pete, and I was on my way! Apparently,as Andy left my house, he thought he would just check the reservoir from the dam before going home - and the rest is history, as they say! A few us had good views of this adult Gannet before bad light stopped play; I returned the following day and took some images. It's obviously exhausted, but hopefully it will eventually make it back to the coast where it should be. It was still there on Tuesday evening and has been flying about and has even been seen eating fish, so fingers crossed it will be able to leave the reservoir soon.
I can't remember if I told you about the Brascote Tawny Owl-its my age I think!! Anyway, there has been tawny owl at Brascote for probably for the last four years, and it always roosts in the same Horse chestnut tree - well most of the time, but it seemed that this wise old owl knew when I was carrying my camera and it was nowhere to be seen, but every time the owl was showing I didn't have it with me...... lesson to learned there? Although the car was not that far away, I was just too lazy to go back and get it, but a couple of weeks ago it let its' guard down! As Pete and I were giving the tree its' usual once over, Pete called 'here it is!' and unbelievably, I had my camera with me, so below are a couple of images of the camera-shy Brascote GP Tawny Owl
The duchess and I spent a few days down in Dartmouth in the beautiful county of Devon from the 31st of July to the 3rd of August. On the day we travelled it was really sunny and warm, so we decided to do some butterflying at Aish Tor - a good site for High Brown Fritillary. We parked up and walked for a while up one of the paths; although there were loads of bramble and lots of Gatekeepers and Meadow Browns on the wing, there was no sign of our quarry, so we walked back to the car where Sue asked a family that had just parked up if we were at the right place. Luckily, they had an OS map which showed the Tor as being another 500 meters to the west so we drove further down the track and we parked at the Tor. As luck would have it,we bumped into a group of locals that were doing the same as us and they informed us that there were High Browns in the bracken just a few yards away; we soon found a female - egg laying, I think - as she spent a lot of time walking around on the ground in among the bracken and twigs. The group also told us of a site for White Admiral at Bovey Tracey, so after we left Aish Tor, we headed back up the A30 to the woodland at Bovey Tracey
High Brown Fritillary
High Brown Fritillary
We parked at the entrance to to woodland and followed the directions we had been given; we spent a good couple of hours searching all the brambles for the Admirals but with no luck - but there were lots of butterflies about - Peacocks and Brimstone which were in superb condition and also there were lots of Silver-washed Fritillary - we even found two mating! We went back to the car to get ready to continue our journey down to Dartmouth and whilst just sitting in the car having a drink, Sue had noticed a butterfly flitting over some bramble just the other side of the gate so she got out for a closer look.Within a minute she was beckoning me over to the bramble and sure enough she hadn't found one but two White Admirals. Though they were fairly worn,it was still a nice insect - and within 15 meters of the car! Still, it was a nice walk around the wood anyway!
Mating Silver-washed Fritillary
The weather was not very kind to us on the Monday so we went on the steam train into Paington - certainly recommend it! We had a great day despite the drizzle. The weather on Tuesday was overcast but with out the rain. I had told Sue about a Dalmatian Pelican that been roaming around the South West coast and it had been reported at the Hayle Estuary RSPB and bless her she said instead of moping around Dartmouth, lets go for it! Two and half hours later, there we were watching this fish-guzzling beasty hunting and seeking out its' prey - and luckily on a rising tide - so the bird came quite close at times, and even better - the sun came out and it ended up being quite a nice day in Cornwall! All in all, despite the weather not being too kind for us, we had a great few days.
The Pelican in hunting mode
We left a sunnier Dartmouth on Wednesday morning but decided to call in at another butterfly site - Preston Down Fields - where Brown Hairstreak were frequently seen. Unfortunately, although it was warm and sunny, it was quite windy, and despite our best efforts, we didn't see any - but we can leave them for another day - gives us a reason to go back again!
As always thanks for stopping by and as usual any comments are welcome