Firstly , another senior moment on yesterday's post has been corrected by Dean/DDD . The longhorn moths are in fact Nemophora degeerella , not as stated . Thanks very much Dean .
Also following on from that post , one of the people I talked to at Stodmarsh about lunchtime , had visited the Heath Fritillary site and then , like me , arrived at Stodmarsh . It now transpires that he has been following this blog for a while now . Good to meet you Mike H , I hope we bump into each other again soon .
Back at Stodmarsh , some other highlights that were heard or seen but not photographed , included a male and female Peregrine hunting high over Harrison Drove hide , one , maybe two Cuckoos , one of which had an unusual call , a Turtle Dove that stayed well concealed in a scrubby area , and at least two Nightingales along the river bank . What was very noticeable by their almost absence , were any Odonata or butterflies , just one Green-veined White and a handful of damsel/dragonflies . The absence of the dragonflies was the probable reason why just three Hobbies were seen , all at a distance . As I said yesterday , the ditches were alive with Warblers , and although I tried all during the visit , it wasn't until just before I left that I manage a couple of shots of the Reed Warbler . The Bramble and Comfrey covered banks of the river produced young of many species feeding or being fed by parents , including Blackcap and Chiffchaff , but by far the most numerous were the young , fluffy Common Whitethroats . Near the viewing ramp , a male Reed Bunting was going through his counting routine , 1 , 2 - 3 , whilst in the nearby ditch , a female had more important things on her mind , filling the ever gaping bill of her young . By the locked hide , I stopped for a while , hoping that a Water Vole might appear , one didn't , but in the water this tiny , at the moment , predator , a Jack Pike , was lying in wait of it's next meal . In all , the visit produced 54 species of birds , which helped make up for the lack of butterflies , damsel and dragonflies . A large threatening cloud encouraged me back towards the car , and on the way found the papus of the Goatsbeard/Jack-goes-to-bed-at-noon .
I decided to head home via the Fritillary site , deciding whether or not to stop depending on the weather . That weather was reasonable as I approached , and on parking the car , found the couple from Nottingham still there photographing . They said that they had had a few sunny intervals , which had encouraged the butterflies to get airborne . I just happened to strike it lucky , as , shortly after taking this shot of two Heath Fritillaries roosting in the overcast conditions , the sun came out , and as if by magic , they opened their wings to warm up . The male is the brighter coloured specimen on the right , the female being slightly drabber . Just before the sun disappeared again , I managed to find a mating pair , and also in the shot , the food plant of this colony , Common Cow-Wheat/Melampyrum pratense , a member of the Lousewort family . The colony in Essex also use this plant , the one on Exmoor use Foxglove/Digitalis purpurea , a member of the Figwort family , whilst in Devon and Cornwall , Ribwort Plantain and Germander Speedwell are used . Very soon after taking this shot , the sky darkened and a heavy shower descended , that was my cue to head home . The couple from Nottingham were still there , but I felt for them as the road reports on the radio told of massive holdups on the M1 in the Nottingham area and to the South , I hope they made it OK .
The surprise find in the garden as were sitting down to eat last evening was a mangy looking Fox , down the bottom , scratching itself ( sorry it wasn't more exciting Warren ) . I only had the 100mm. macro lens on and took this through the patio doors . By the time I got outside , it had jumped our fence into next door , and was just clearing their fence into the next garden .
This morning , it was cooler and windier than yesterday , but I had to go up the Common to check on the Greater Spotted Woodpeckers . As I approached the nest , I could hear an adult 'chipping' in the distance , but no constant call from the hole . Then a single 'chip' from the hole , so I set things up and waited . The male was the first back with food , anf if he looked worried before , then he relly looked worried now , with the youngster almost hanging out of the hole to get it's food . I'm still not sure whether there is 1,2 or 3 young in the nest , my best bet would be 1/2 . Even when the parents are away , the youngster(s) spend a lot of time at the entrance hole , taking in what this big new world is all about . One thing I did notice though , the female fed from down the trunk , encouraging the youngster out of the hole , perhaps a prelude to making it leave the nest , in return for it's food .