A nice early start saw me at Tunstall Reservoir at about 8.00am. This was just to be a quick visit as I got my two target birds reasonably easily. I parked up the north end near to the little farmhouses, then walked past the little nature reserve, through the wooden gates, and up the hill towards the big trees in the middle of the cow field. This is my usual spot for TREE PIPIT, and after about 15minutes one flew overhead calling. It landed in the main wooded area to the right of the field, but after just a few minutes relocated to the trees next to where I stood. This took my tally upto 188 for the year. 189 followed soon after! Leaving Tunstall behind, there is a small stone bridge just before you get to the main road at Wolsingham, and this is usually a good spot for SPOTTED FLYCATCHER. Sure enough, I parked the car and one was sitting on a low branch in full view. I didnt even have to get out of the car!!! My two targets got in less than 30mins.
From here I headed to Bishop Middleham Quarry, on a bit of a butterfly hunt. Conditions werent ideal, being quite breezy and overcast, but when the sun did come out so did the butterflies! Species seen were SPECKLED WOOD, RINGLET, LARGE SKIPPER, COMMON BLUE, MEADOW BROWN and SMALL HEATH, all in good numbers, but best of all was my first NORTHERN ARGUS of the year with double figures seen. I also saw my first 5-SPOT BURNET MOTH of the year. The one disappointment was the lack of any Dingy Skippers, as this would have been a lifer.
Martin rang me saying he was heading for Cowpen Bewley to look for dragonflies, so I decided to join him. The weather had improved and the sun was shining nicely, so we headed to the small ponds with a lot of hope. We werent disappointed. COMMON BLUE DAMSELFLIES were abundant, and in amongst them were a nice number of BLUE TAILED DAMSELFLIES. Alas we couldnt pick out any Azure Blues. We did see one or two LARGE RED DAMSELFLIES but nowhere near as many as the Blues. Then things started to get REALLY good. First up, a very impressive BROAD BODIED CHASER. I'd only ever seen one before, down at Rutland, so I was pleased to see one in the county. But then it got even better. My first ever FOUR SPOTTED CHASER. Four or them to be more precise. We then had a quick look on the main lake and got two fantastic EMPEROR DRAGONFLIES. On the walk back to the car we wandered through the fields and flushed a number of moths, most of which were my first of the year. Species seen were 5-SPOT and 6-SPOT BURNETS, SILVER Y, LATTICED HEATH, SHADED BROAD BAR and YELLOW SHELL.
We then decide to pop over to Dormans Pool to see if we could pick up a couple of different species. It turned out to be a great decision. 11 species of butterfly were seen, including my first GRAYLING of the year. Apparently this is a good place for this scarce species but we only seen one on this occasion. The other butterflies seen were SMALL TORTOISESHELL, LARGE WHITE, SMALL WHITE, GREEN VEINED WHITE, RINGLET, MEADOW BROWN, COMMON BLUE, SMALL HEATH, LARGE SKIPPER and SMALL SKIPPER. We also got a few species of dragonfly including more FOUR SPOTTED CHASERS and EMPEROR DRAGONFLIES, but best of all was a BLACK TAILED SKIMMER, another lifer.
Another excellent day, proving that when its quiet for birds theres always other things to brighten the day!