Sneaky varmints

A Hobby scorching through the blue above Dempsey Towers this morning was almost enough to pull me out of a sunny Sunday summer nosedive. Almost.
At least it was enough to get me down to Formby where I went for a wander down Range Lane to admire the new Ringlet colony Phil Smith discovered a week or so back (see comment on previous entry).
I’ve not heard of any from the firebreak at Ainsdale NNR yet this year (great discovery by Andy Spottiswood in 2016), and I wanted to say “howdy” again to the Sefton coast’s newest butterfly so off I went.
I counted at least nine Ringlets this afternoon – but what a bunch of sneaky varmints, tottering around the coarse grassland and brambles.
They rarely settled in the strong westerly breeze making it very difficult to get good views of them.
Their aimless flight and smaller size made them easy to separate from the bigger, more deliberate Meadow Browns on the wing, but last year’s colony at Ainsdale NNR were much easier to get close to if memory serves.
Crept up on one male and managed a few shots as it rested in the brambles and grasses, otherwise all my view were of the critters flying weakly about the grasses, usually just a few inches off the ground and hardly ever high above the rank vegetation.
Plenty of Small Skipper and Meadow Browns, Blackcap, Chiffy and Whitethroat still singing and Common Buzzards overhead.
Pyramidal Orchids flowering and centaury gearing up to be splendid.


3 thoughts on “Sneaky varmints

  1. Dave Hardaker saw two Ringlets on Ainsdale NNR Saturday morning, on the edge of the Pinfold Meadow. (Also a WLH Streak.) I saw one possibly two Ringlets yesterday afternoon in the corner of the Meadow, near the railway line. Settled once when I could see and then off. Meadow Browns there as well. Half a dozen Forester Moths on this year’s rather sparse ragwort plants.


  2. Trevor and I saw about a dozen Ringlets at Ravenmeols on Saturday, including a mating pair.
    Yesterday afternoon, 25 noisy Sandwich Terns in the Ainsdale Beach roost off the New Green Beach.


  3. Thirty years ago this summer, RSPB Leighton Moss nature reserve in Silverdale made history. For the first time in well over a hundred years, one of Britain’s rarest birds, the marsh harrier, returned to nest in Lancashire, choosing the reserve’s vast reed beds as its home. They have nested ever since and the site is encouraging visitors to come and witness these spectacular birds in action.
    In the early 1970s just one pair of marsh harriers was known to nest in the whole of the UK but thanks to conservation efforts these spectacular birds slowly increased in number. In April 1987 a pair arrived at Leighton Moss and successfully raised three chicks at the RSPB’s flagship reserve.
    Marsh harriers are large and impressive birds of prey which usually spend the winter in Africa, returning here in the spring. It is thought that there are now around 400 pairs breeding in Britain every year. Unfortunately the recovery of marsh harriers has not been mirrored by the widely publicised decline of their close relative the hen harrier, which is perilously close to extinction as a breeding bird in England.
    Since their return to Lancashire thirty years ago, marsh harriers have nested at Leighton Moss annually; raising in excess of 200 youngsters over three decades. Staff and volunteers have been keeping a close eye on the two nests at Leighton Moss this year and on 30 June they were thrilled to see the first chick taking its inaugural flight.
    Over the coming weeks, the young birds will be stretching their wings and learning to hunt for themselves, so it’s the perfect time to visit Leighton Moss and Morecambe Bay nature reserve to see them. The parents are continuing to provide food for the hungry fledglings and visitors may see several harriers in the air at one time!


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