Sunday, 5 July 2015

Swallowtail at Strumpshaw and Hobby's at Lakenheath

Sat 6th June 2015.
Not much doing in the bird department so after a discussion with Paul F we decided to "twitch" Swallowtail butterfly. Our destination was Strumpshaw Fen where we had failed to see Swallowtails on a couple of previous occasions. A decent enough drive to Strumpshaw and the weather was looking promising, a bright and sunny day. However, after parking the car we noticed a fairly strong and chilly breeze, not a good sign for butterflies we thought. Over the railway line and up to the visitors centre. We stopped just before the visitors centre where there was a planting of Dame's Violet. A very helpful RSPB volunteer was sat on a bench near the Dames Violet and said she had not seen in Swallowtail so far and perhaps the cold breeze might be a reason. We decided to have a walk around the reserve and come back for another look later. A pleasant stroll around the reserve with plenty of insects most of which I couldn't i.d. Marsh Harrier, Common Tern, booming Bittern the most noteworthy birds. So a circuit completed and back to the visitors centre. The wind was even stronger now but the sun was higher so the temperature a bit warmer than when we arrived. A few people were standing near to the bed of Dame's Violet but no Swallowtails had been seen. Then after a couple of minutes a lone Swallowtail flew in. A much larger butterfly than I had expected. A big crowd gathered and enjoyed some great views of this most striking butterfly. I did manage one or two photo's and they can bee seen at the end of this post. A 150-500 zoom not ideal for butterfly photography!
From Strumpshaw we headed in the direction of home with a stop off at Lakenheath. Lots of dragonflies on the wing including a new one for both of us in the form of a Hairy Dragonfly.
Up towards the Joist Fen viewpoint. We joined a few other birders, some of whom had had flight views of a Little Bittern. We stayed for 30-40 minutes no sign of Little Bittern but over a dozen Hobby performing some amazing aerobatics were a joy to watch and a Red Kite drifted slowly by. Good numbers of Marsh Harrier from the Joist Fen viewpoint and then as we completed out circuit of the reserve a fly past Cuckoo was a nice end to our day.
Pics below; Swallowtail at RSPB Strumpshaw Fen and Hobby's and a Red Kite at RSPB Lakenheath.

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