Monday, 20 June 2016

Orchids at Croft Quarry

Yesterday Adey Baker and I went in search of the Pyramidal Orchids that were first seen last year at Croft Quarry. After a bit of searching we spotted them in amongst the trees on the embankment. They are not fully out yet, but they still looked quite impressive. We also came across 17 Bee Orchids and some Common Spotted Orchids.

Pyramidal Orchids, Croft Quarry, June 2016

Bee Orchid, Croft Quarry, June 2016
Common Spotted Orchid, Croft Quarry, June 2016


Sunday, 12 June 2016

Orchids at Brascote Pits, Leicestershire

Orchids have been present at Brascote Pits, Leicestershire for a few years now, but this year is exceptional.

Bee Orchids have been at the site for some years, but never as many as we saw today. Adey Baker and Pete Asher were the official counters, I was the secretary and Colin Green made sure they didn't miss any. In total we counted 107 different Bee Orchids!



Bee Orchid
There is a large group of probable Common Spotted  x Southern Marsh Orchids. Some have spotted leaves, but most don't.

Presumed Common Spotted x Southern Marsh Orchid
Presumed Common Spotted x Southern Marsh Orchid

As we walked around the pits we came across some Common Spotted Orchids either singles or small groups. 

Presumed Common Spotted Orchid
Common Spotted Orchid
In the wetter areas we found some Southern Marsh Orchids.

Southern Marsh Orchid
Southern Marsh Orchid
Southern Marsh Orchid

Sunday, 5 June 2016

First-Summer Caspian Gull at Shawell

Recently, for to various reasons, I haven't been over to Shawell as often as normal. May is probably the quietest month of the year, so hopefully I didn't miss that much, but yesterday I was presently surprised to see around 1000 gulls at the landfill site. Most of them were immature Lesser Black-backed Gulls, but that many gulls might just attract something interesting.

I moved to the lagoons at lunchtime and the first thing I did was accidentally flush a Common Buzzard that was right in front of the viewing area. This in turn flushed all the gulls - at least I had time for some gardening after that. The lovely trees planted by Lafarge are getting too tall and the stinging nettles needed their heads cutting off. 

Eventually a 'wave of gulls' came in from the landfill site. Amongst them was a very distinctive first-summer gull that had some blackish spots of the mantle and an obvious dark bar across the coverts. Otherwise it was quite typical of a second-calendar year Caspian Gull. Checking photos on the Gull Research Organisation's website I found that the dark bits are typical of a June 2CY.

First-Summer Caspian Gull, Shawell A5 Lagoons, Leicestershire 04/06/16
First-Summer Caspian Gull, Shawell A5 Lagoons, Leicestershire 04/06/16
Note the Pale Tongues on the Primaries and its Moulting its Inner Primaries

Friday, 3 June 2016

Common Scoters at Stoney Cove

Twelve Common Scoters at Stoney Cove today.

I looked out of the office window today at work and spotted some brown blobs floating on the water near the far side. I fetched my binoculars and was surprised to see that the blobs were Common Scoters - eight females and four males.

They were there all day and they were not at all worried by the activities of the divers and swimmers. It was difficult to count them, as they stuck together in a very tight group. This is only the third record for south-west Leicestershire, but the second this year after a pair at Shawell A5 Lagoons in March.

Common Scoters at Stoney Cove 03/06/16
Common Scoters at Stoney Cove 03/06/16

Saturday, 28 May 2016

Breeding Gulls in Hinckley

Over the last couple of years I have located several gull breeding colonies in Northamptonshire and elsewhere on my travels. Plus I have continued the work at the old British Shoe factory first started by Dave Gray. At this time of year seeing gulls over any flat roofed building is worth checking out. I recently spotted some gulls over the Northern Perimeter Road at Hinckley. Steve Nichols also spotted gulls in this area, as he was driving along the same road. I decided to do a thorough search of the area last weekend and eventually I spotted a Lesser Black-backed Gull sitting on a nest on one of the large warehouses. Something spooked the gulls and in all 27 Lesser Black-backs took to the air above the roof. The bird below is the only one visible from ground level, but I believe there are more pairs with eggs on the roof.

Lesser Black-backed Gull Incubating Eggs on the Roof of a Hinckley Warehouse
Adult Lesser Black-backed Gull, Hinckley
If you do see gulls in any industrial areas round Leicestershire this summer please let me know, so that I can check for signs of breeding. Better still, carry out a bit of detective work yourself and see if you can find out if they are breeding.