Monday, July 19, 2004

Star Pit

Not one of the most pretty places around, but a local hotspot for rarities (if you are into gulls that is...), Star Pit is a new Wildlife Trust reserve at Dogsthorpe rubbish tip. The shallow lake has recently been drained, apparently to increase the salinity so that the rare brackish-loving water beetles will be in their element.
The beauty of the place is that it's very easy to get to (being on the A47 on the way east out of Peterborough) and you can give the water and mud a quick once-over and see everything in a quick space of time. If you have more time on your hands, however, the reward is a chance to work through many of the thousands of gulls that live on the tip as they come to bathe and loaf.
Star Pit is probably the best site around Peterborough to check for Caspian Gulls, which are regularly picked out by local gull freak and birdfinder par excellence, Kevin DuRose (whom I cheekily call 'Pinky'). Here is a second-summer Casp I crudely digiscoped at the weekend. Check out the huge bill with little gonydeal action, plus the long wings and I'm sure those wing patterns are right if only I could the find crucial literature lying around...

Caspian Gull, Star Pit, Peterborough, 18.7.04 (it's the bird in the foreground, the other is a first-summer Lesser Black-back).

A couple of Little Egrets are living at the pit,too at the moment. One has been around for a week or two, and the other (perhaps a juvenile) arrived on saturday (17.7.04). The first bird is rather intolerant of the newcomer, and this is my action shot to prove it.

Little Egret aggression, Star Pit, Peterborough, 17.7.04 (the longer-term resident is in the foreground seeing off the newcomer, and if you look carefully its bill is wide open, screaming abuse!).

Time for some light relief from these digiscoped images. There were a few insects on the wing on saturday at Star Pit, including this tasty Six-spot Burnet moth. Compare this beast with the Narrow-bordered Five-spot Burnets I 'shot' at Swaddywell last week. Of course, when I say 'tasty', I don't recommend munching them as (if I recall correctly from the words of wisdom of my eccentric, moth-loving organic chemistry teacher, Doc Allen, way back in t'old days at school) they are crammed full of cyanide (or something similar), hence the bright warning colours. Somehow (is it an instinctive reaction to the colours, or something learnt?) I have always found these insects strangely sinister and dangerous-looking, but I still love them. Ho hum, the schizophrenic dualities of the wandering naturalist...

Six-spot Burnet, Star Pit, Peterborough, 17.7.04.

It's shiny, it excites the eye... Six-spot Burnet, Star Pit, Peterborough, 17.7.04.

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