Friday, 11 June 2021

June Diversions

I'll be honest. It's been difficult to maintain my birding zeal this past week or so. My last morning jaunt was to Cogden on 7th, from 06:55 - 08:25. Lively it was not. I noted one singing Lesser Whitethroat and a single Swallow through. And the last bird I photographed - which actually is debatable - was this one last Friday...

Spot the Hobby. A few seconds earlier it performed a lovely fly-past of course. My first of 2021.

I do realise that right now is the time to find a Rosy Starling, and that an excellent way to reduce your chances of doing so is to look at plants, but I can't help myself. Stuck in slow-moving traffic on the A35 while at work today, I found myself perusing the lush verge as we crawled past Symondsbury. And suddenly I spied a bunch of orchid spikes. Excellent. There used to be at least a couple of spots on the A35 between here and Lyme Regis which boasted a nice population of roadside orchids (though I can't recall what species... Southern Marsh? Common Spotted?) but they were demolished by injudicious mowing/strimming. Hopefully this lot will be left alone. And coming home later I was delighted to glimpse at least one spike very close to where I used to see them a few years ago, but at 60mph a glimpse is all I got. Made me smile though.

Some recent Cogden orchids...

Bee Orchid is definitely my favourite so far. Though my orchid list is admittedly tiny.

This one is going to put on a nice show.

Just gorgeous aren't they?

This newly-opened Pyramidal Orchid on 4th is both my first and only one of 2021 so far.

A lovely spike of Southern Marsh Orchid.

On one or two other blogs I've noticed references to Bithynian Vetch, and how smart it is. So I kept an eye out for little pea-like flowers. 'Ah', I said to myself, 'I'll bet this is it.' Out came the camera...

But no. This is Grass Vetchling. I learned this by searching through my 40-year old(!!!) wild flower field guide, and felt a modest sense of accomplishment. What is happening to me? It's just a plant.

In other news...

Common Blue on grass sp. I rather like this shot.

Mother Shipton at Cogden. Only the second time I've knowingly seen one of these.

On Monday afternoon I was overcome with an urge which hasn't featured for a very long time, and soon beside a local lake, chucking out little floating dog biscuits in the hope of tempting a small carp or two. I hooked and lost one, missed a couple of chances, and then found myself attached to this thing...

My first ever Grass Carp. It weighed 12lb 12oz.

As the caption says, I had never caught a Grass Carp (Ctenopharyngodon idella), a species native to eastern Asia, and quite different to the well-known Cyprinus carpio lumps beloved of carp anglers everywhere. In fact I'd never even seen one before. I really hadn't expected to catch a fish I would want to photograph, but had taken my P900 in case of Honey Buzzards and suchlike. And now here I was desiring a memento of this unlikely-to-be-repeated event, and having no idea how to do a self-take with the Nikon. I propped it on my bait bucket, set the timer for 10 seconds, pressed the shutter-release, hurried into position and stared gormlessly at the camera, looking for signs that it had done something. Hopefully that explains the amusingly vacant look...

Last, but by no means least, some splendid June birds...

It can only get better.


  1. That's the fattest looking Grass Carp I've ever seen (I used to work in a fisheries, I've seen rather a lot). Must be all those doggy biscuits...

    Nice bit a quaking grass (Brizia sp) behind your Pyramidal Orchid, doesn't look like the common one either.

    Canada Goose is widely touted to be the next coloniser up here, I saw 2 together a few weeks back, just my second sighting in over four years on Skye. There would be a very major twitch if that flock rocked up here anytime soon, lol!

    1. Believe it or not, even this botanically challenged blogger knew that was quaking grass. In fact I surprised myself a bit at the time by putting a name to it. Of course, you've spoiled it now by suggesting there is more then one kind! 😄

      You can have (and keep) all our Canada Geese.

  2. As one that has lost the ability to catch fish, well done on your grassy. Did it do all of its fighting in the net and on the bank? I've only had one, in France, it was over 36lbs and a real shock. By the way, I've got a remote for my 950, not expensive and you may want to do trophy shots with some orchids.

    It's all very strange this year, butterflies numbers knocked back, no caterpillars where last year the nettles were black with them, very few warblers around here and even the kite is less frequent over the village - failed brood?

    I blame Boris.

    1. One short run when hooked, then in like the proverbial wet sack. And yes, a nightmare in the net and on the bank! 😄

      As the month progresses I am going to try to compare insect abundance (or lack thereof) with how I remember last year. So far it's not looking great.

    2. PS. Thanks for the tip re remote. Yes, I ought to pick one up...

  3. Butterflies and fishing - I like where this is going!

    Congratulations on the grassy - I’ve seen them, just never convinced one to take a bait.

    1. Cheers Brian. It's the birding doldrums. There might be more of this kind of stuff! 😄

  4. Never seen a Grassy in the flesh but I'm sure it won't be too long before one crosses my path? Those self-take images, using a 10 second delay can produce some awful results as you're only to aware. Dave's suggestion of a remote has to be the way forward then you won't look so miserable holding such a lovely fish. Keep smiling - Dyl

    1. Ha ha! Yes, not flattering! Too busy worrying about whether the camera was actually doing anything. Didn't occur to me to look happy in the meantime! 😄