27/08/2016 My Garden, Abram, Wigan

Common Dor Beetle:  (Geotrupes stercorarius) Today Dawn goes to let the cat out into the back garden and says 'Austin, what's this weird beetle on our garden step?' I went to take a look and I was surprised to see a dung beetle.

Excited, I grabbed my camera and macro lens and snapped away, this was a UK first for me and a brilliant, welcome addition to my garden.
The Dor Beetle is one of the largest members of the Family Scarabaeidae (Dung beetles) and are important because they get rid of a lot of animal faeces, breaking it down and incorporating it into the soil, so helping in the recycling of nutrients.

This also makes the world a less smelly place to live in and reduces the numbers of other insects like flies which would otherwise breed in it.
This individual also had a large colony of mites living on its coxo, abdominal segments and across it's thorax. Apparently this is common for Dor Beetles but was pretty weird to see.

02/08/2016 Minsmere RSPB, Suffolk

Western Purple Swapmhen: I've seen these massive blue coots in Spain but never thought I would have one over here.

Otherwise known as a purple gallinule or its less-scientific “blue chicken” or “swampy” if this bird gets accepted it will be a first for the UK.

The case put forward for it to be a genuine vagrant consists of timing and location. Its after breeding season so the birds are moving further afield, at this time of year in  Spain their traditional ponds and lakes are drying up.

The bird is a western race, so its range is closer to Britain than other forms of swamp-hen which have been known to escape into the wild from captivity. Also there are other westerns swamphens way out of their range in France at the moment. All of which may makes the Minsmere bird more credible.

Other highlights included Bittern over the reedbeds close to where the Swamphen was loafing and two adult Stone Curlew accompanying a single chick just past the visitor centre on the grassland.