Langford Lakes is usually worth a visit, and lately people have been excited about a female Red Footed Falcon. It apparently feeds on moths so as an 'irregular migrant' it chose its time to visit well - last week was our National Moth Week.
As well as the (as usual) stunning photo of the falcon, Abby Eaton also caught this dapper little Green Sandpiper and the Common Darter dragonfly laying its eggs one by one.
The sandpiper is only green because of its legs and the base of its beak, not easy to see. But it is 'the only small bird which dashes up from water's edge with shrill cries' (Collins Pocket Guide to British Birds).
Click on the photos to enlarge and enjoy the pin-sharp focus.
The survey of Tisbury's swifts that began on 8 July is coming gradually to its end with the likely departure of our swifts over the next few days. Meanwhile, the screaming parties overhead are rowdier than ever, as in this morning's video (to view it best, click bottom right to expand to full screen).
It's been a weird season - the first fledging we know of was on 29 June, which is very early. But young were still calling from a nest site in Lady Down View yesterday evening. Let's hope they're not deserted by their parents - there must be zillions of insects around in this warm and humid weather.
But just in case one does decide to take matters prematurely onto its own wings, don't forget the guidelines I posted earlier, here. And that if you can't take the bird to the Wildlife Hospital yourself, ring me on 07831 253616.
To join our next Field Trip to the magnificent Iron Age hill fort Hambledon Hill, meet at the Nadder Centre car park on Weaveland Road (not Nadder Close on The Avenue) at 10.30am this Thursday, 29 July.
Even before the ramparts were built there was a settlement here, but rather than archaeology we're going in search of the wild flowers and other wildlife that's here in profusion. As the National Trust (which owns the Hill) says, there are 'an impressive 28 species of butterfly including the Adonis blue, dark green fritillary and green hairstreak ... Bird watchers can also spot skylarks, buzzards, kestrels, meadow pipits, blackcaps, white-throats, chiff chaffs and willow warblers.'
As you'll have been noticing along the roadside verges, this is high season also for wild flowers including, maybe, some orchids.
It sounds like a veritable feast for the senses.
For full joining details, go to the Field Trips page.
There really is no end to all the special focus weeks on different kinds of wildlife - but this one is particularly relevant to us, given Andrew Graham's amazing photos of the moths in his traps.
We saw some magnificent species last year, but none I feel is more dramatic than this year's first Eyed Hawkmoth. The Guardian's Country Diary described the excitement of seeing it in a moth trap at Castle Howard:
'Something huge and swarthy emerges slowly, theatrically. An eyed hawk-moth: dark angel, Bram Stokerish, unsettling even before the lurid jump-scare flash of glaring false eyes on its underwings.'
Peter Shallcross is breeding both them and Privet Hawkmoths. so expect some more superb shots to mark this very special week.
Spring that was - freezing in April, drowning in May? Happy times!
But now Summer seems nearly to be here, with a heatwave forecast from St Swithun's day on Thursday. Seems the weather systems actually do often switch around that time, and this year's to be no exception.
But Dick Budden enjoyed lots of lovely spring things in his garden and meadow down by the River Nadder. Here are two of his favourite things ...
The lovely yellow flag (Iris pseudacorus) is widespread in damp and marshy areas - as well as on Dick's riverside patch you can see them on the Teffont Lake.
Ragged-robin (Lychnis flos-cuculi) is in decline, and The Wildlife Trusts say, 'Swaying in a gentle breeze, the delicate, pink flowers of Ragged-robin can be a joy to behold in any wildflower meadow, damp pasture or woodland ride. But it's not just passing humans that benefit from its star-shaped blooms - bumblebees, butterflies and honeybees all enjoy the nectar it produces.
'A favourite among gardeners, try planting Ragged-Robin in a boggy area or flower border and see who comes to visit.' It's widely available in garden centres.
Trying to get a handle on the current population of Tisbury's swifts is pretty tricky - accurately counting screaming parties going at anything up to 70mph is a challenge. Almost all of our team of around a dozen came to The Boot for a briefing by Andrew Graham, our wildlife recording expert, before setting off for their allocated area out of the ten mapped out by Andrew.
So from now on until 7 August, if you see people snooping around your area around sunset (or maybe dawn as there are some larks amongst us), that's what we're up to.
Go to Projects for a full account of the evening.
You don't need to be on a Field Trip to see something surprising - such as this black swan that Debbie and Andrew Carter saw on Fonthill Lake. Black, yes, but the wing-tips are white and sometimes, it would seem, a bit more of the wings. Dramatic though.
Less dramatic in itself but the more so for Andrew catching this pied wagtail having a snack. Brilliant shot!
So, good to calm down with the white swans on the lake and the lovely field poppies in the field below the Beckford Arms.
Do send in any photos you're particularly pleased with, to me at email@example.com.
The wonderful thing about our Field Trips is that there are so many of the knowledgeable and expert to help those of us who are neither. But we all share what we do know. It's such fun, noticing something that turns out to be quite interesting and coming away knowing a little bit more.
Garston Wood came up with a whole range of things to fascinate - Andrew Carter's eye was caught by a meadow brown, a greater butterfly orchid, a handsome snail and something nasty-looking going on on a phallus impudicus also known as a stinkhorn fungus.
Every day's a school day ...
For more about this happy day, go to Field Trips/What you missed.
This is Swift Awareness Week and our project to increase the population of Swifts in Tisbury is reaching its final stage - for this year!
The project was in response to a nationwide campaign, described in this press release and we have been magnificently supported throughout by the team from Hampshire Swifts. They've advised us, made the nest boxes and installed them, along with some calling systems if swifts aren't already nesting nearby. We certainly couldn't have done it without them. Thank you, Hampshire Swifts!
Now, we need to survey how many are breeding here, so that we can assess how effective all the new nest boxes are over the coming years. We're getting together on Thursday evening before going to the ten areas of Tisbury that we're focusing on for the survey. So look out for us, walking slowly around listening and watching for swift activity.
If you're interested, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or phone me on 07831 253616.
Meanwhile, if you'd like to view videos of these amazing birds, I've put the 'library' of those that have so far come our way, on the Projects page.
Andrew Graham keeps us posted on the exotic-looking moths that come into his garden, but we're going in search of other night time wildlife a bit further afield - to Holt Heath, for nightjars and glow worms.
Go to Field Trips for more details but hurry - it's this Tuesday, 6 July.
The pages now display photos of moths taken by Andrew Graham. This one's the Puss Moth, looks very soft and cuddly.
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