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ZEISS DTI thermal imaging cameras. For more discoveries at night, and during the day.

Owen's lifetime of wildlife in a year. (1 Viewer)

August 19th

Feels like a long time since I added to this, I have managed to see a UK Clouded Yellow to bring me to 50 species in the uk this year but i'd already seen them in spain so didn't write it up.

Very early start today for a Pelagic with West Coast Birdwatching. I was supposed to go last year but was exhausted after a scottish holiday and couldn't make it so it was great to finally do one. We'd been warned of very choppy seas and combined with the fairly fast boat working against the tide that led to a very wet outward journey with quite limited chances to get onto much although the boat did stop when we definitely saw anything interesting.

I'd hoped a little for some late puffins as we were heading past skomer and skokholm and the previous weeks trip had caught some but they've presumably all left now. Did however make up another species I was sure I'd missed for the year, Arctic Tern with I think 7 birds at various points.

Plenty of Manx shearwater and some early Storm Petrels and a single Arctic Skua and Harbour Porpoise.

When we put out the chum, or half of it, the more solid fish bag got dislodged from the boat and presumably made some gulls happy, we immediately started getting good numbers of Storm Petrels very close in. Even with a very rocky boat and a bridge camera I managed to get a few photos. After a while it became obvious that there were a few Wilson's in amongst them. Highest count was 3 in a view at once but by that point there were over 40 petrels flying around and there could have been more wilsons. Not an easy bird to see in Wales and definitely the highlight of the trip. I also really enjoyed spotting a (pretty small to be honest) Ocean Sunfish and the views of a few close in Common dolphin. Oddity of the day was a flight of Bar Tailed Godwit about 15 miles out.

Top day out.

262 Arctic Tern
263 Arctic Skua
264 Manx Shearwater
265 Storm Petrel
266 Wilson's Storm Petrel (welsh tick)
29 Harbour Porpoise
30 Common Dolphin

Birds 266 Mammals 30 Herp 18 Butterflies 66 Total 380 Lifers 104View attachment 1464300View attachment 1464301
A cracking trip there Owen. Nice one.

Rich
 
A cracking trip there Owen. Nice one.

Rich

Thanks. Yes it was great and really well run by Dave Astin. Aside from a few hopeful mystery unidentified birds there wasn’t any variety in the shearwaters but the petrels were so amazing to watch that I think Wilson’s would have been my choice of which high quality bird to see.

Was a sighting at strumble today as well so they’re obviously in the area and may well turn up at strumble again.
 
August 20th

My last UK butterfly trip of the year to Aston Rowant and Otmoor near oxford. Both great sites with a huge variety of interesting species and between them two of the final four UK butterfly species I'd never seen.

Aston Rowant was packed full of blues, Chalkhill, Adonis and common as well as Brown Argus, a species I've been after since its first brood back in he spring. The lifer was Silver Spotted Skipper. Very flighty and not especially abundant but did get some decent views. Lots of other cool insect and arachnid life as well, found a great Wasp Spider.

Otmoor looks like an amazing reserve, we spent most of our time on one tree lined lane that was totally packed out with Odonata and Hoverflies and had the possibility of Brown Hairstreak. Only saw one come down to even 10 feet above the ground but thankfully I was in the right place for it and had excellent views. Four of the party of six only had them in flight above the canopy. Plenty of Willow Emerald there as well which was a new species for me. Also saw Emperor, Migrant Hawker, Brown Hawker, Ruddy and Common Darter

The birdier parts of the reserve were very hot and dry but had excellent views of a few Hobby, Cattle Egret seemingly feeding from the face of cows and a freshly escaped Ruddy Shelduck waiting for it's signal to go back to captivity at the end of the season. Probably my first wild Cranes as well although I've already year ticked slimbridge ones. Excellent reserve with such a variety of species.

I hopefully will get a few butterfly species in cyprus in november but I think that probably is the end of new species in the UK for me this year. Managed 53 of the 58 with White Admiral really the only missed one that I went to any sites with a chance of seeing. Leaves me on 56 of the 58 life list wise which is far better than I hoped when I made improving my UK butterfly list the priority for the year. Been incredibly fun too, visited so many places that birds would probably never take me to.

67 Silver Spotted Skipper
68 Brown Argus
69 Brown Hairstreak


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Birds 266 Mammals 30 Herp 18 Butterflies 69 Total 383 Lifers 106
 
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It's been great fun following your quest too Owen! Many thanks for the posts. I Look forward to reading about your Cyprus trip, several endemics there I believe!

Chris
 
Thanks Chris. I’ve really enjoyed writing them. I have been very caught up on butterflies this spring and summer but hopefully I’ll get a few birds between now and Cyprus as well. I’ve missed quite a few normally regular species while going for butterflies but hopefully it’s a good vagrant autumn
 
August 24th

Family break to Center parcs.

Had hedgehogs on the patio first night but only seen by one person, not me, still got 2 more nights possible so not giving up yet.

Plenty of butterflies, dragonflies and beetles and a bit of log rolling for beetles found some decent sized toads

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19 common toad




Birds 266 Mammals 30 Herp 19 Butterflies 69 Total 384 Lifers 106
 
August 25th

Almost missed them going on a night nature walk that was enjoyable but didn’t provide anything new but when we returned the hedgehogs were back.

A species I used to see a lot but haven’t done for a few years so very good to see

Phone didn’t cope with the dark well enough for a photo though

31 hedgehog

Birds 266 Mammals 31 Herp 19 Butterflies 69 Total 385 Lifers 106
 
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Looking through some photos from tenerife earlier in the year and turned up this one that looks Kentish to me (and to the ID forum so far). I think I actually got as far as adding it on the day and then not spotting it in the photos and removing it as I'd been looking through a lot of sightings lists for the site and not seen Kentish on it, Kentish supposedly being quite site restricted on tenerife. But it certainly looks the part.

267 kentish plover

Birds 267 Mammals 31 Herp 19 Butterflies 69 Total 386 Lifers 106
 
September 6th

Back in work but that also means my daughter will be back in school soon so I can hopefully get out a bit more on my days off than I have been over the summer.

Second time lucky today with a juvenile black tern that has been feeding on a small Cardiff fishing lake then disappearing for stretches. Thankfully it’s on my route home as terns are by far my favourite bird family but I don’t get that many local opportunities to see them.

It was feeding very well despite being harassed by black headed gulls and the small size of the lake meant point blank views fairly often as it motored around. Probably my best ever views of a species I only tend to see every few years

No camera but glad I keep some back up bins in the car.

268. Black tern

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Birds 268 Mammals 31 Herp 19 Butterflies 69 Total 387 Lifers 106
 
September 9th

All week at work a Red Necked Phalarope in herefordshire has been showing up on birdguides Nearby Birds but i didn't want to go for it after work and give myself a massive drive home so I went for it today on my day off instead.

Eventually found it after what must have been several goes of it being on the wrong side of an island for me to see. Glad I persisted as phalaropes are cracking little birds and it was only my second Red Necked. I've never seen them in the sort of plumage that gives them their name but I really enjoyed watching it all the same

Then tried for the Dotterel that had been showing well at Cleeve Common all week, pretty sure in my head Hereford and Cheltenham are a lot closer together than they actually are. There had been one in flight sighting today a few hours before I arrived but it ended up being a dip for me. Only really enlivened by lots of wheatear and a half dozen or so Whinchat. Whinchat had been a real bogey bird for me this year so glad to get them. Nice to experience Cleeve Common as well, a site that I'd seen on birdguides a lot but never visited.

Could really feel the seasons having changed a bit today, very wet and muddy underfoot and more inkcaps and puffballs than butterflies.

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269 Red necked Phalarope
270 Whinchat

Birds 270 Mammals 31 Herp 19 Butterflies 69 Total 389 Lifers 106
 
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September 19th

Wasn’t expecting much today birdwise but I’d just put some dinner in the oven when the local whatsapp mentioned that another local WhatsApp had news of an Ortolan bunting in a stubble field on the other side of town.

Quick drive and desperate fast walking before I found the birders spread out looking. Word went that it had flown to another field. Everyone shifts to a gap in the fence. Brief but clear views on top of a hedge before it flies again

It’s eventually picked up perched at the top of an oak on the far edge of the second field. Nice clear scope views with some good views of the face.

I’ve a feeling others got closer views on the deck after I left but I got back in time for tea with an unexpected lifer

271 Ortolan bunting

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Birds 271 Mammals 31 Herp 19 Butterflies 69 Total 390 Lifers 107
 
September 24th

Staying at my inlaws in the midlands gave me the chance to bird a few new places today. Wasn’t sure how far I wanted to go so decided on going for a pectoral sandpiper in Nottinghamshire then having a look at what was around on BirdGuides

Driving up to idle valley I noticed a large mustelid carrying a big fish across the carpark of a local factory. Stopped the car and got out with just my phone but still had time for good views of a mink moving really slowly and nonchalantly across the carpark. A totally unexpected Mammal tick and one that given their impact I’m happy not to repeat

The reserve itself brought good views of 2 pectoral sandpipers and 5 curlew sands on a scrape with a good selection of waders

A check of my phone and I decided to bite the bullet and make my first visit to Spurn

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32 American mink
272 pectoral sandpiper
273 curlew sandpiper

Birds 273 Mammals 32 Herp 19 Butterflies 69 Total 393 Lifers 108
 
September 24th

My first visit to Spurn and I have some thoughts.

How is anywhere that close to Hull an hour from Hull?
Oh its all those little villages with more speed camera signs than houses..

Absolutely loved it though, before I even got to the carpark I saw a scrum of birders gathered around a fence. Immediately recognise a few welsh birders from both Twitter and south Wales twitches. They were all looking for a Yellow Browed Warbler and the sheer number of birders on what was a pretty normal day for Spurn took some getting used to.

Didn't see the Yellow Brow but had my second Wall Butterfly of the year which was probably better.

Head down to the car park and start looking for a reported Red Breasted Flycatcher and immediately run into someone from my April Spanish trip and have a phone call from Clark Griswold of these parts saying he had recognised my hat at the YBW. No flycatcher but did have a fly over Brambling.

Get together with Clark/Rich and his mate Kevin, down from Flamborough for the day.

After a bit more scouring bushes for movement we decide to head up towards a reported Wryneck. Halfway there and some birders coming the other way have just had and photographed a Barred Warbler. This spurn birding really is different.

Followed the Barred Warbler down bush by bush back the way we had just come. Quite a few fleeting views before it stopped long enough for people to break the scopes out and then get blown off just as the crowds of birders arrived. Rather than hunting for it again we went for coffee

Come out of the cafe and the Red Breasted Flycatcher is performing at a few metres distance on the sheltered path through the trees. No need to hunt for vague movements. Just glorying in a very cute bird and my 300th for the UK

Once it had moved on again we headed back towards the Wryneck and got point blank views.

The rest of the day was a lot of walking and dipping more Yellow Browed and then a snow bunting but they're birds that I'm likely to get more shots at. There'd also been twite and Short eared owl around but two lifers and great views of a wryneck make a great day. Did have some quality time with a Spotted Flycatcher that was great to watch.

Also had very close, quick views of a vole, probably Field, I think it's the 5th one I've seen this year without identifying to species, had one in a kestrel's claws on the way in as well but both Bank and Field vole are yet to make the year list.

Three hour drive back to the inlaws but a very enjoyable day, I'd love to be there when the wind was really cooperating but it was a nice way to get a feel for the place.

274 Brambling
275 Barred Warbler
276 Red Breasted Flycatcher

277 Wryneck
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Birds 277 Mammals 32 Herp 19 Butterflies 69 Total 397 Lifers 110
 
October 3rd

Had been toying with going for the Grey Phalarope at goldcliff all weekend but a fungi walk on Saturday and the traffic carnage of the Cardiff half marathon on Sunday put a stop to it

Had a free period at the end of the day so headed down on the way home from work.

Lovely close views of the phalarope, weirdly a welsh tick despite seeing one each of the last 3 years.

No sign of an earlier Jack snipe amongst the many common.

Tried for a yellow browed warbler nearby. Clear and prolonged calls followed by three warblers flying out of the right part of the tree where it had previously been seen and the calling stopping

My heard only list this year is quail, Iberian green woodpecker, lsw, lesser whitethroat and now yellow browed warbler. If it wasn’t for two of the others being unticked lifers I think I probably would be year ticking the yellow browed

Very happy with the phalarope though. Lovely bird.

278 grey phalarope

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Birds 278 Mammals 32 Herp 19 Butterflies 69 Total 398 Lifers 110
 
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October 16th

Been Ill most of the week and apart from dipping a red backed shrike been mainly focusing on fungi and insects when I went out.

A morning at the beach and supermarket was pleasantly interrupted by news of a Red-Flanked Bluetail just north of Cardiff.

The most recent one in a similar area was present for ages but an absolute nightmare to see so I didn’t hold up too much hope

Got there and it had been found by a young local ecologist but not seen by anyone since. An hour or so of wandering the wood managed some mushrooms and a few coal tits

Call went out that someone had accidentally flushed it but it had gone to ground. Then a quarter hour later someone had it at eye level before it went up into canopy.

Slowly one by one people got views without anyone else really getting onto it

Then it’s called quite close to me and I get decent views on a high branch. It’s constantly pumping tail the main feature. Some flight views follow before finally it perches and everyone present managed to get views before it goes down in to the ferns.

A great county bird and one I think will be very hard to refind without multiple pairs of eyes but a very welcome tick and glad so many locals got it

279 red-flanked bluetail


Birds 279 Mammals 32 Herp 19 Butterflies 69 Total 399 Lifers 112
 
October 20th

A nice stroll down to the shore at Kenfig this morning brought good views of the Red Backed Shrike that has been there for 10 days or so. It was showing well but not well enough for a photographer who promptly flushed it so i decided to see what else was about.

Lots of mushrooms including a few really bright waxcaps (probably Blackening I think) and a single Red Admiral as well as a cool perched sparrowhawk but the highlight was a group of five Chough feeding in amongst the grazing cows. There's a small population that moves around the local coastline especially in the winter from their colony at monks nash and it was great to have prolonged close views. My first ones at the site.

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280 Red Backed Shrike

Birds 280 Mammals 32 Herp 19 Butterflies 69 Total 400 Lifers 112
 
October 30th

Half term brings the final family holiday of the year. I’ve really not travelled all that much. Only 5 return flights to Europe as an adult (and I’m 49)but after a few locked down years and an improved financial situation 3 of the 5 have come this year.


So we have a week in Cyprus. Very much a family thing but hopefully should pick up some lifers too. Have 2 guided days booked but no transport for the week so not sure how it’s going to pan out

The airport brought hooded crows a few red admirals and some small brown passerines which looked larky to me but not seen well enough for a tick so I’ll leave those.

The hotel brought amazing looking oriental hornets. Huge carpenter bees and as the sun went down a tiny Kotschy’s gecko. First of hopefully a few reptile ticks

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281 hooded crow
20 Kotschy’s gecko

Birds 281 Mammals 32 Herp 20 Butterflies 69 Total 402 Lifers 113
 
Thanks Chris

Just sat on the balcony had three very clear flybys by an Egyptian fruit bat. An absolute monster of a bat. First one seemed to have it disturbed from a nearby tree so hopefully more later in the week.

A few small bats around as well but forgot to pack the iPhone bat detector

33 Egyptian fruit bat

Birds 281 Mammals 33 Herp 20 Butterflies 69 Total 403 Lifers 114
 
31st October

I’m sure I’ll end up seeing loads and hopefully get some pics but had a Troodos lizard basking on top of a hedge by the pool

21 troodos lizard

Edit. Got a pic

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Birds 281 Mammals 33 Herp 21 Butterflies 69 Total 404 Lifers 115
 
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