Sunday, 29 May 2011

Sunday 29th. May 2011

No let up in that wind today , and early on the cloud cover was thick too . Regardless , I decided to do the Down House bird survey this morning , calling in on the Great Spotted Woodpeckers on the Common on the way . At the nest site , I could hear an adult calling , but no sign of movement or sound from the hole . Eventually the male arrived with food , which started calls from within the nest hole , but I think there was just a single youngster at home . During the half hour I was there , the female never showed , and the male only searched for food in the trees surrounding the nest . I think the female had encouraged the other youngster out of the nest , and was feeding it elsewhere , leaving the male to do the same with the other one . I fully expect the nest to be empty next visit .
Arriving at Down House , the wind was even stronger , being high up , but it also meant that the cloud cover was broken up and some pleasant sunshine followed . It was very slow to begin with , especially as calls were lost in the rustle of the trees , so once again , it became a double survey , with butterflies being recorded as well .The first butterfly found , was also the tattiest one found . a Small Copper that had definitely seen better days . All of the species seen were well worn , but , with two more broods hopefully to come , one mid July/August and the other late September/November , it won't be the last we see of them . Nine Meadow Browns were recorded , this male being one of them , but many more were probably sheltering down in the long grass . Another male found was this Brown Argus , identified as a male by the 'blueing' on the abdomen , and the orange spots fading out as they reach the leading edge of the forewing . A distraction was a plank of wood on the side of the large meadow , and underneath two Slow Worms . Both male and female Large Skipper were also found in the same meadow , the female having just the mottling on the wing , whereas the male of the species , and that of all the 'Golden Skippers' , carries a distinctive dark line , also known as a sex brand , on the top of it's forewing .
Common Blue , Small Heath and Large White were also recorded , then , a flash of orange , carried on the wind , as it lifted from the long grass . A short chase ensued , and my first Dark Green Fritillary of the year was in the book . A species of downland , it gets it's name from the distinctive green wash on the underwing . This means that a visit to Lullingstone Country Park will be on the cards in the near future .
Birds were being recorded as well , and two hirondine species were amongst them , Swift and Swallow , but apart from those and Bullfinch and Yellowhammer , nothing madly exciting .
But , that couldn't be said as I crossed the stile from the Cricket Field into one of the small meadows . The area adjoining the Sandwalk Woodland proved to be a sun trap and also sheltered from the worst of the wind . The grass at the woodland end was very long , and as I moved in that direction , a doe Roe Deer and a fawn strolled out from the bushes and started grazing . I still had the macro lens on for the butterflies , so dropped on one knee , and as quickly as I could , changed to the large lens . When I looked up again the pair were still there . I fixed the camera and lens onto the tripod and gingerly stood up . I managed 4 shots before the doe spotted me , and with a call , the two of them legged it back into cover . I'm pretty sure that this is the animal that I photographed last month , that was seen to be carrying young . I felt well chuffed that I had managed to get those shots and carried on . A Red Admiral was my next target but once again I had the wrong lens on . It was on the Dock leaves , top left of the shot , but then flew down and right . I was too near , but then noticed those white spots in the background . I once again quickly changed lens , and managed a single shot of another fawn , lying quietly in the long grass , just a couple of metres away . With that , the doe appeared again , and gave a call , and the fawn leapt up from it's hiding place , raced to it's mum , and they both disappeared into the cover of the woodland , a truly magical moment . Still shaking with what had just happened , I spotted a small bird land on one of the outer branches of the woodland trees , and with binoculars , made out a juvenile Nuthatch . Once again , the wrong lens was on the camera , so I just moved towards the bird , thinking it would fly . It didn't , so I stopped and changed lens again and set up the tripod . It looked like this youngster had been 'parked up' , whilst the parents searched for food . It was quite unperturbed by my presence , and had a long preening session . I even managed to move for a better shot , and it was funny watching the youngster asking for food from any bird flying by . I had hoped the parents would return and feed it where it was , but a call from deeper in the woodland , and the youngster was off .
Things quietened down after that , with just Speckled Wood being added to make it 10 butterfly species on the visit .One flower made it to the camera today , Corn Cockle/Agrostemma githago , a member of the Pink family , once found on almost every cornfield .
The bird survey ended up with a very respectable , for the site , 25 , which made the visit even better .
Returning home , the butterfly day list went up one , when this very fresh Small Tortoiseshell stopped for it's lunch on Carol's Pansies on the patio , whilst we were having ours .

6 comments:

ShySongbird said...

You are certainly on a roll at the moment Greenie, another great post!

A beautiful Fritillary and another one I haven't seen.

A lovely encounter with the deer, I felt just like that when I had my encounter last year but for you to see the little fawn was really so special! The juvenile Nuthatch encounter was very special too, an exciting morning.

Dean said...

Some great pics there, Greenie. Very envious of most of the species illustrated.

Warren Baker said...

Some good recording there again Greenie, all down to the skill and know how of yourself - and just a touch of luck :-)

Rob said...

The Dark Green Fritillary is a beauty - I've yet to see one of those. Fancy spotting a fawn in the long grass - amazing!

Mike H said...

Another great day for you Greenie.Never seen a Dark Green Fritillary ,

Phil said...

I'm tempted to say how are you going to top that Greenie.....but I expect you will!!