Monday, 3 August 2015

Week Two of Holiday

Hello all,
As you saw in my last post, I was on holiday for two weeks down near the Isle of Wight (By Highcliffe and Christchurch if you know the area). Anyway, here is the second instalment of my wildlife blog, for week two of holiday.

The first wildlife highlight in the second week was a low flying Kestrel, on the 25th July. There were some nice views of the common bird of prey, hovering over a hedgerow


 The Kestrel mainly hunts small voles and insectivores (such as shrews) but can take small birds. For a little while, I was trying to decide if it was a Kestrel, or if it was a Hobby, which is a summer visitor that hunts mainly insects.
It made a few dives into the grass, but I did not see it emerge with anything.

The next creature of interest I saw is what I believe  to be a Marbled White butterfly. I found this chap at the end of Hurst Spit, slightly surprising considering researchers from Durham and York universities found that this species of butterfly survived better further north, and Hurst Spit is one of the most southern points along the Solent.
The Marbled White butterfly has been the subject of a conservation project, which involved capturing butterflies and relocating them to further north locations.

The next interesting animal was a Little Egret. I saw these fabulous white herons on two occasions, with good views each time. They are more common in autumn and winter because of migrant birds from Europe.
Just a few decades ago, these birds were extinct in Britain, but in 1989, they made a return, coming in substantial numbers. The first breeding pair was in Dorset in 1996, and the birds are on the amber conservation list.
Despite the comeback, the birds are still rare further north, with Little Egrets at home along the south coast. They can be found in both freshwater and saltwater, eating fish and some amphibians.

In the UK, it is thought that there are around 700 breeding pairs, with 4500 wintering in the UK.
They feed in two ways. The main way is like herons, stalking their prey, stand still, then stab with their dagger like beaks. The other way is to run their bill over the surface of the water, as shown in one of the smaller photos.

Below, you can see a rather grainy photo of a mystery bird. After doing the RSPB bird identifier, it said it was a Red Backed Shrike. This seems highly improbable, so could YOU help me find out what it is? It was taken on a rocky beach opposite the Isle of Wight, and kept popping back and forth between bushes and the beach. Please give any ideas! Thank you very much!
Hopefully another post soon, but until then, goodbye!

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