Wednesday, November 29, 2006

A week in South Western Spain

We have just had a weeks holiday (21-28 November) in south western Spain staying at the Barcelo hotel in Punta Umbria, which is just south of Huelva. The holiday was organised by Saga and we used this as a tester into southern Spain.
The weather was a bit iffy with only 3 days of sunshine the rest being cloudy with some light to heavy rain. Most days the temperature was 18c rising to 22c when the sun came out.

Day 1:
Having traveled to the Felbridge hotel near East Grinstead (where we left our car for the week) the day before we got a bus to Gatwick early this day for a flight to Faro. We were then transfered by coach to the hotel for lunch.

After lunch a walk around the hotel to see what birds and butterflies were around. Immediately Sardinian Warblers were calling but elusive along with fly over Crested Lark and Serin. Crested Tit was calling nearby and Black Redstarts flitted about.
Butterflies included Bath White, Small Copper, Painted Lady, Clouded Yellow, Large White

Bath White

Day 2:
In the morning we went on a birdwatching trip to a few local sites (El Portil, El Rompido and the Marismas del Odiel) but only a few notable birds were seen: 3 Osprey, 1 KP, 12+ Black-winged Stilts, many Flamingos and White Storks.
After lunch we came across a flock of some 50 Iberian Magpies near the hotel and a flyover Hoopoe.

Iberian Magpie

Day 3:
Prior to the holiday I booked a day with John Butler ( and as John knows the area we had a much more successful day. We visited Laguna El Portil, port of El Rompido, the Marismas Rio de Piedras, the Marismas del Odiel, the Estero de Domingo Rubio and the Laguna Primera de Palos.
Some excellent birds were seen including 20+ Audouin's Gull, 5 Caspian Tern, 2/3 Little Tern, 30+ Cattle Egret, 6+ Bluethroat, 11+ Purple Swamphen, 2 Southern Grey Shrike, 2 Osprey, 16+ Spoonbill, 2 Squacco Heron, 4 BNGrebe, 4 Marsh Harrier, 2+ Black-winged Stilt, 3 KPs and many White Storks. Also several Waxbill.

Day 4:
We went on a trip to Moguer and a Bodega. The first Red Kite of the holiday was seen as we travelled back.

Day 5:
After heavy over night and morning rain we walked around Punta Umbria

Day 6:
A day trip to Donana which was hugely disappointing because as there had been so much rain recently we couldn't get to large areas of the nature reserve.
We did see 1 Southern Grey Shrike, 2 Marsh Harrier, 3 Red Kite, 1 Swamphen and 1 Hoopoe.
Some butterflies included 5 Painted Lady, 2 Small Copper, 10+ Large White and 5+ Small White

Day 7:
The morning was spent around the hotel. Once the temperature rose enough some butterflies were flying: Clouded Yellow, Small Copper, Bath White, Large White, Painted Lady, Red Admiral and Long-tailed Blue

Long-tailed Blue

Long-tailed Blue

Small Copper

In the afternoon we went on another birdwatching trip to an area inland of Huelva. This was an excellent trip were we finally caught up with a Crested Coot which was on a lagoon on the Marismas del Odiel . Other birds seen were:

Black-shouldered Kite - 3 excellent sightings of this excellent bird.
Griffon Vulture - 1
Corn Bunting - 50+
Calandra Lark - 1
Marsh Harrier - 1
Common Crane - 4
Hoopoe - 4
Southern Grey Shrike - 2
Stone Curlew - 12+

Day 8:
Flight back from Faro to Gatwick. It rained all the way to Faro and when at Faro airport the rain became torrential for quite a while. So much so that the terminal building roof leaked very badly and much of the ground floor flooded.

As this was our first venture into southern Spain we didn't do too badly. Sardinian Warblers were relatively common with many sightings as were Iberian (Azure-winged) Magpies. Spotless Starlings seemed easy but we didn't see any Common Starlings to compare. In some ways we were unfortunate in Donana but there had been so much rain in the two weeks prior to and also this week that on the day we went it was very difficult to enter and we were led by Donana people.
The hotel was excellent as were the Saga people.

Full species list (88):

Audouin's Gull

Bar-tailed Godwit
Black Redstart
Black-billed Magpie
Black-headed Gull
Black-necked Grebe
Black-shouldered Kite
Black-winged Stilt

Common Buzzard
Calandra Lark
Caspian Tern
Cattle Egret
Cetti's Warbler
Collared Dove
Common Sandpiper
Common Coot
Common Crane
Corn Bunting
Crested Coot
Crested Lark
Crested Tit

Dartford Warbler

Fan-tailed Warbler

Great spotted Woodpecker
Great Tit
Greater Flamingo
Grey Heron
Grey Plover
Griffon Vulture

House Sparrow

Iberian (Azure-winged) Magpie

Kentish Plover

Lesser Black-backed Gull
Little Egret
Little Grebe
Little Owl
Little Tern

Marsh Harrier
Meadow Pipit


Purple Swamphen

Red Kite
Red-breasted Merganser
Red-legged Partridge
Ringed Plover

Sandwich Tern
Sardinian Warbler
Southern Grey Shrike
Spotless Starling
Squacco Heron
Stone Curlew


White Stork
White Wagtail

Yellow-legged Gull


Saturday, August 26, 2006

Camberwell Beauty

It's been an invasion year for this species with several sightings mainly down the UK east coast. Fortunately one has been hanging around buddleia bushes at the RSPB reserve at Pulbrough.

Today (25th August) I visited this site from 10 o'clock but no sign during the warm and sunny morning. Quite a few Red Admirals, a couple of Painted Ladys and Hummingbird Hawkmoths, Peacock, Comma and even a Brown Argus. I went away for lunch and on my return there it was feeding on the Buddleia. Excellent view but no pictures as my battery had run flat. Another excellent UK tick.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Silver-spotted Skippers

I took a morning visit to Old Winchester Hill today in the hope of seeing Silver-spotted Skippers. It was mainly cloudy at first with a cool breeze but some sunny spells started to appear. As I walked along the top path and out onto the hill most of the butterflies were still inactive but no skippers. I decided to walk down to the bottom of the hill where it was more sheltered and warmer. Immediately the skippers showed in small numbers and I was able to take some photos as they were still quite posy.

Photographs of Silver-spotted Skippers


Some of the butterflies seen:

Painted Lady - 24
Red Admiral - 18
Silver-spotted Skipper - 8
Dark Green Fritillary - 4
Clouded Yellow- 2
Chalk-hill Blue - 1000s once the sun came out

Also a Hummingbird Hawkmoth

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Even more Painted Ladys

This morning I visited Old Winchester Hill again. Weather conditions different to yesterday when it was still and hot. This morning it was cool and breezy from the west. Small butterflies were less in evidence but Painted Ladys were all over the upper slopes mostly sheltering out of the breeze.
In all I counted 115.

Other butterflies included:

Red Admiral - 26
Dark Green Fritillary - 4
Chalk-hill Blue - 1000s
Peacock - 6
Small Copper - 5
Large White - 11
Common Blue - 2

Also 2 Raven flew over the area.

Some photographs from today

Painted Lady

Painted Lady

Common Blue

Small Copper

Small Copper

Bordered Straw

Last night I was watching the mass of migrant Silver Y moths feeding in my garden. Then one particular moth caught my eye. I was quite pale, reminded me of my recent sighting of Dusky Sallow. It turned out to be a Bordered Straw which is another immigrant to the UK. A first for me.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Clouded Yellows

Today Mike and I visited Old Winchester Hill in the hope to find early Silver-spotted Skippers. We didn't find any but we did see at least 6 Clouded Yellows. Other butterflies noted were:

Red Admiral - 36
Painted Lady - 52
Marbled White - 20
Chalk-hill Blue - Masses, may be 2-3000
Dark Green Fritillary - 5
Peacock - 18
Large White - 15
Brimstone - 3
Small Copper - 1
Comma - 1

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

A lunchtime walk around Farley Mount

I took a lunchtime walk around Farley Mount today (26/07) as the weather was slightly cooler with increasing cloud cover. Many butterflies around including:

Painted Lady - 80 (looks like another PL year)
Brimstone - 50
Clouded Yellow - 3
Peacock - 9
Red Admiral - 3
Dark Green Fritillary - 7
Comma - 1
Large White - 5
Lots of Gatekeepers, Meadow Browns, Common Blues, Small Whites

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

At last, a rare migrant butterfly in Hampshire

With a big phew I managed to catch up with a rare migrant butterfly in Hampshire.

Just coming up to 3 o'clock in the afternoon on 25th July the pager went off saying there was a Long-tailed Blue in Hampshire and not too many miles away from work.

I quickly packed up and surfed the net to try and get site details but there wasn't much. So off I went to Bishop's Waltham, some 20 minutes drive away and fortunately the road for the nature reserve was just as I got into the village. I didn't know this as I left.

So on to the nature reserve and followed someone else who had twitched this butterfly. After an hour or so the butterfly was located but I only had a bad view in flight. Another 20 minutes and we found it again settled on a stem of grass. Excellent view but what a grotty specimen.

Here is a picture courtesy of Mike Duffy

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Kitt's Wood visit

Today (22nd July) was very humid but initially sunny before thunder clouds came over head. Kitt's Wood was buzzing with butterflies.

Butterflies included:

Painted Lady - 9
Peacock - 52
Large White - 24
Red Admiral - 28
Brimstone - 34
Silver-washed Fritillary - 95 including 5 f. Valesina
Speckled Wood - 4
White Admiral - 3
Comma - 2
Holly Blue - 1

Some Photographs from today

Dusky Sallow

Meadow Brown

A visit to Old Winchester Hill

Today (21st July) Mike and myself visited Old Winchester Hill from 09:00. Weather was hot and sunny though dew was still on the grass. Wind today was very light.

Butterfly sightings included:

Red Admiral - 39
Comma - 4
Painted Lady - 27
Peacock - 7
Chalk-hill Blue - c300
Clouded Yellow - 1
Dark Green Fritillary - 12
Small Tortoiseshell - 4
Large White - 7

Hummingbird Hawkmoth - 1

Some photographs from today:




Sunday, July 16, 2006

A visit to Martin Down

This morning I visited Martin Down, north section and Kitts wood. Good number of butterflies out especially in Kitts wood.

Sightings included:

Small Copper - 2
Dark Green Fritillary - 95
Small Blue - 9
Small Heath - 9
Small Tortoiseshell - 6
Peacock - 3
Comma - 3
Painted Lady - 8
Red Admiral - 17
Silver-washed Fritillary - 96 including 3 f. valesina (see photo below)
Brimstone - 23
White Admiral - 11
Clouded Yellow - 1

Day flying moths included

Scarlet Tiger - 14
Silver Y - many

Photographs of some of todays butterflies:

Silver-washed Fritillary f. valesina

White Admiral

Back end of a Scarlet Tiger moth

Small Blue

1 of 2 Corn Buntings seen in the area.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

A very tame Fox

Today (15th July) I visited Old Winchester Hill with Mike. Both Mike and I like to visit this site early when the sun is out, as it was today, to catch the basking butterflies. Today was no exception. Plenty of Red Admirals, Painted Ladies and Commas were on the bramble bushes. It was quite breezy so there weren't many butterflies out on the hill at this time. Having got back to the car park by 9 Mike went off and I decided to stay another hour or so to take some photo's. On the way round Mike had mentioned that Dave, a voluntary warden, had been feeding a tame Fox. At the time I thought nothing of it but When I returned to the car park after my walk round there was a Fox playing around at the end of the car park. They are usually quite wary animals but this one paid no attention to me as I packed my car. In fact it walked up to me and stopped within 5 feet for a few seconds before casually walking off.

Here are some photographs of it:

This was only about 5 feet away

The Fox slowly wondered off but was not bothered by my presence.

Here is a list of the butterflies we saw:

Red Admiral - 67
Comma - 15
Painted Lady - 13
Marbled White - 75
Small Skipper - 35
Meadow Brown - 60
Small Tortoiseshell - 3
Dark Green Fritillary - only 3
Speckled Wood - 1
Ringlet - 15
Small Heath - 6
Gatekeeper - 25
Chalk-hill Blue - only 5
Large Skipper - 1
Essex Skipper - 2
Small White - 3
Green-veined White - 2
Large White - 1

Some butterfly photographs from today:


Green-veined White

Marbled White

Painted Lady

Red Admiral

Red Admiral

In search of Purple Hairstreaks

This evening (14th July) I visited the Lea Ground Coppice part of Whiteley Pastures to look for Purple Hairstreaks. Although it was quite breezy I did manage to have 10 sightings, all at the tops of the Oak trees. On the bramble bushes White Admirals were feeding actively as were Silver-washed Fritillaries.

Bratley Plain pools

Today (14th July) I visited the pools between Milkham and Slufters Inclosures looking for the reported Red-veined Darters. Unfortunately there was no sign of them. However a good number of dragonflies were over the pools:

Four-spotted Chaser - 2
Broad-bodied Chaser - 2
Emperor Dragonfly - at least 6
Emerald Damselfly - 6
Common Blue Damselfly - at least 20
Keeled Skimmer - 4
Black-tailed Skimmer - 2
Common Darter - 5
Black Darter - 3
Golden Ringed Dragonfly - 1

I also had an excellent view of a Honey Buzzard nearby which was in view for some 15 minutes.

Friday, June 30, 2006

A visit to Whiteley Pastures

I visited Whiteley Pastures today to see what effect the winter tree felling and bramble clearing had on the bufferfly population. Fortunately there are still pockets of Bramble along the track for Silver-washed Fritillaries and White Admirals to feed on. I did manage to see around 12 White Admiral and 16 Silver-washed Fritillary, though it is early days for the later. There was also at least 1 White-letter Hairstreak flying around the Elm at the start of the track.

Here are some photos of Silver-washed Fritillaries and White Admirals I took today:

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Photographs from Eastern Pyrenees holiday 2006

Amanda's Blue


Clouded Yellow, possibly Berger's

Black-veined White

Black-veined White

Blue-spot Hairstreak

Bright-eyed Ringlet



Chalk-hill Blue

Chequered Blues

Chestnut Heath

Clouded Apollo

Dark Green Fritillary

Escher's Blue

Heath Fritillary

High Brown Fritillary

Holly Blue

Iberian Marbled White

Ilex Hairstreak

Knapweed Fritillary

Knapweed Fritillary

Large Chequered Skipper

Large Tortoiseshell

Lesser Marbled Fritillary

Long-tailed Blue

Lulworth Skipper

Mallow Skipper

Marbled Fritillary

Mazarine Blue

Oberthur's Grizzled Skipper

Painted Lady

Pearly Heath

Purple-edged Copper

Red Underwing Skipper

Scarce Copper (male)

Scarce Copper (female)

Silver-studded Blue

Silver-washed Fritillary

Sloe Hairstreak

Small Skipper

Spanish Gatekeeper

Spanish Gatekeeper

Spanish Purple Hairstreak

Spanish Purple Hairstreak

Tufted Marbled Skipper

Two-tailed Pasha