Saturday, 15 August 2009

Saturday 15th.August 2009

Once again , the morning was grim , with grey skies and a gusty wind . Another chance to catch up on photos . After taking Carol shopping and lunch , sunshine appeared , and that was all that was needed to head out . First stop was up on the Common , not at the Ash tree , it was far too windy to find anything there , but at the Bramble/Purple Hairstreak site . Almost immediately on leaving the car , I came across a Holly Blue , desperately attempting to land on the Ivy , on the back fence of one of the houses backing onto the Common . Anything covered in Ivy is worth a look for this species at this time of year . Eventually , it got blown into the garden and out of sight , so I headed for the Bramble patch on the steep slope . All was quiet to begin with , but the sunshine slowly brought a few butterfly species out , including a couple of Purple Hairstreaks , like this one feeding on the ripe Blackberries , but always it seemed , on those furthest away . Not much else was seen till I got back to the Ivy again , when I noticed a male Southern Hawker , hawking for insects in the area . I watched him for some time , thinking that he might settle for a shot , but he had other ideas . Time and again , I saw him sweep up and take small insects , then , in a flash , he swept up to the top of an adjacent Oak , and caught what was either one of the White butterflies , or a very large light coloured moth . It flew a couple of circles clasping it's prey , then dived into the Oak tree , about 7/8 mtrs. up . The wind was blowing everything about , but I did manage one shot of the hunter and the hunted . The white to the left of the Southern Hawker's head/thorax , are the wings of the butterfly/moth .
With the sky not looking brilliant , I headed for High Elms . For once , the sun stayed out for my arrival , and on the way up to Burnt Gorse , got a Red Admiral , nectaring on one of the Buddleias . No sign of female SWF at their usual spot , so I headed for the Orchid Bank . The sun had already nearly left the Hemp Agrimony stand outside the fenced off area , and not much nectaring apart from one colourful Comma . A few male SWF came through , still looking for females , and then a small butterfly fell into one of the flower heads . Yes , it was a WLH , sorry Steve . This was all we wanted on Thursday , and although we checked the flower heads several times , it just didn't happen . I did catch sight of a second through binoculars , but that was high up in the surrounding trees . Heading back towards Burnt Gorse , a female SWF was egg laying in the usual place and a second in the small glade , together with another two nectaring . A quick look around Burnt Gorse produced a pair of Common Blues , almost mating , but the female was obviously not happy with the situation . After several minutes , she broke off and flew away , leaving him with a confused look on his face . The second brood Common Blue numbers are well up on last year , which reflects on the more sympathetic management of Burnt Gorse , last Autumn and Winter . Still good numbers of fresh looking Brimstones about , these will not breed now , but overwinter as adults , and hopefully breed next Spring . Even those shiny Small Coppers are starting to look tatty now . Heading back to the car , I once again heard bird of prey calls from the area of Larch . When Steve was there we heard them , and were convinced it was Sparrowhawk , but never saw anything . I decided to have another go at seeing them , and slowly made my way towards the calls . At one point , it sounded like all hell was let loose , with definitely three birds calling , then what I'm pretty sure was a male came through the trees , with prey in it's talons , dropping it out of my sight . He was followed by a larger female , that dropped down an mantled whatever he had caught . At the same time , a third bird , I assume a youngster was continually calling . I tried to get a view of the female on the ground , but she picked up the food , and flew into a more wooded area , with the third bid following . I felt frustrated that I didn't get a clear look at what was going on , or even better a picture , but felt lucky just to have been on the fringe of what had happened . Returning to the main track , I passed the Green Wood-Cup mentioned on Thursday , and with better light today got a shot of it . This fungi turns the wood it's own colour , and was used as the green wood in Tonbridge ware .
On looking back at the Clouded Yellow pictures from yesterday , I noticed that there could have been 3 specimens that I managed to photograph . In all , I got 25 shots , and several of them show a light coloured specimen , that could well be a female of the form 'helice' .


Kingsdowner said...

I spent a very pleasant afternoon playing golf today. It's less stressful and disappointing than nature watching.

Warren Baker said...

Thats right greenie, you upset the poor bloke.
I had the same experience last month with Juv. sparrowhawks, they are good at concealment!

Dean said...

I`m with you on the wind statement, Greenie. It just keeps everything hidden away.

ShySongbird said...

A great post again Greenie, full of interest. I had never heard of Green Wood-Cup fungi, I found that really fascinating.

I was taking photos of butterflies yesterday and it was so windy, I don't know how they managed to hang onto the plants! I also saw a Southern Hawker which kept moving rapidly and when it did settle on a hedge I could see it with the naked eye but by the time I found it in the viewfinder it was off and away again :(