I have been so busy this summer that I have devoted very few hours to looking at natural history away from work. A spectacular exception was a four day trip to Finland with the principal aim of seeing several birds new to me, namely Hazel Grouse, Ural Owl, Great Grey Owl, Tengmalm’s Owl, Northern Hawk Owl, Siberian Jay and Siberian Tit.   We did very well, getting good views of all these species plus Capercaillie, Terek Sandpiper, Eurasian Pygmy Owl, Black Woodpecker, Three-toed Woodpecker, Red-flanked Bluetail and Pine Grosbeak.

Hawk Owl 4

Northern Hawk Owl

Mammals seen included Elk, Red Squirrel, Muskrat and Mountain Hare but the only herptiles were the rather more familiar Common Toad and Common Frog.

At home a pair of Spotted Flycatcher returned to the garden where Great Spotted Woodpecker, Common Goldcrest and Eurasian Treecreeper all raised broods. Barn Swallow and Pied Wagtail have nested in ‘the courtyard’ where Common Pipistrelle has also been a regular visitor. Elsewhere in the Upper Leam Valley there have been occasional Eurasian Hobby sightings, Barn Owl has done well, I have recorded Little Owl at two localities and there are at least two further pairs of Spotted Flycatcher. Noctules were performing well at Millholme Parc in early June and it was nice to find Grass Vetchling flowering at a new site later the same month. By the end of June Yellow-legged Gulls were back with us, Pyramidal Orchids were flowering and Southern Marsh Orchid was an unexpected discovery.