Saturday, 30 July 2011

Saturday 30th. July 2011

With further information from Spock after yesterday's post re. the whereabouts of the aberrant Gatekeeper at Hutchinson's Bank , I dropped Carol in town , and returned to the site , concentrating this time on the bridle path at the bottom of the site . I was on site at 08.30 and patrolled the path for three hours . During this time , I added another three species to yesterday's list , including the other target from yesterday , the Small Blue , a single second brood specimen .This pristine individual was found along the path , just below the triangle . I would like to post that I had the same result with the unusual Gatekeeper , but unfortunately there was no sign of it again . Anyone wishing to see the butterfly , click on this link : , well worth a look . As things warmed up , most of yesterday's species put in an appearance , and the early light showed the Peacock nicely . There was a lot of noise from Jays whilst on the site , and fittingly , I found one of their feathers . A dog Fox was sighted at distance , but unfortunately he saw me too , and he headed off on a side path before I could get a shot . I forgot to mention yesterday when posting , and still can't edit a published post , that whilst on site , I had a Reed Warbler in full song , with no water or reeds for quite some distance as far as I know .
On the way back home , I stopped off at a colourful roadside verge that I have passed several times recently , to get a closer look at what was growing on it . Cornflower/Centaurea cyanus , a member of the Daisy family was the most abundant species , with a sprinkling of Corn Cockle/Agrostemma githago , a member of the Pink family . Although listed as a common weed of cultivation , Sun Spurge/Euphorbia helioscopia , is a new one for me . Lower down on the ground , Scarlet Pimpernel/Anagallis arvensis , a member of the Primrose family , was scrambling through the grasses . Even though traffic was speeding through just a couple of metres away , this female Large White obviously wasn't bothered as she rested amongst all the noise .
Must make a mental note to re-visit that verge and collect some seeds in the near future .

Friday, 29 July 2011

Friday 29th.July 2011

Yesterday's quick afternoon visit to the Farm lake was Odonata from start to finish . The most noticeable , was a male Emperor Dragonfy , patrolling the edge of a reedbed , and the reason for his attention was found on the inside of the reedbed , a female , ovipositing on floating vegetation . Not that many damselflies about though , just a few Blue-tailed , the odd Azure , and several Common , many of which were in tandem with their partners . Even though the Black-tailed Skimmers were in small numbers this visit , there were still a couple of females around , no longer in their gold and black colouration , now somewhat on the drab side . Still not that many Common Darters about , but every now and again , a male was found , surveying his territory . In almost the last area that I looked in , I found my first Small Red-eyed Damselflies of the year , a pair in 'the ring' . This species , first found in 1999 in Essex , has now spread right up the country , and is obviously going from strength to strength , and will bring Damselfly emergence to an end for this year . Looking out into the lake at this point , I found a pair ovipositing in tandem , then another and so on , until at at a conservative count , 25+ pairs were seen in the immediate area . In this shot , 5 pairs were ovipositing in tandem . Only other interest on the lake was that the Moorhens have a youngster now .
Having taken Carol to do the monthly shop whilst it was cloudy this morning , and with a bit of brightness showing on our return home , and suspecting an afternoon of cloud , I remembered Spock's comment on last night's post re. the aberrant Gatekeeper at Hutchinson's Bank , just over the border in Surrey , so took the opportunity to see if I could find the specimen , also the second brood Small Blues on site . I had about one and a half hours on site before the weather closed in again , but made the most of my time , covering much of the reserve . But , one pair of eyes , looking for one butterfly in such a large area , I knew I was probably on a hiding to nothing , and that was how it worked out , for both species . I did however manage to record 14 species , with the Marbled White seen , probably the last I'll se this year , as they seem to have gone over on other sites locally . The site has always been good for Small Heath , and today was no different . Walking through the chalk grassland , I saw many small butterflies , but when they came to rest , they all proved to be Brown Argus , like this freshly emerged female . Good numbers of Brimstone , both male and female , not surprising given the amount of Buckthorn on site . And some very fresh Small Coppers , but as I said , no sign of Small Blue . By the time I was leaving , the milky sunshine was now totally blotted out , and so it remained throughout the most of the afternoon . Thanks again to Spock for the 'heads up' on the Gatekeeper , perhaps next time .

Thursday, 28 July 2011

Thursday 28th. July 2011

I wasn't sure about the weather this morning , and hedged my bets with a return visit to High Elms , one that I could enjoy , without any pressure . But under time pressure this evening , so it's the photo and comment post this time .In the Canadian Golden Rod glade , found four White-letter Hairstreaks , some still in good condition , as above ,and some not so , but still showing their 'White-letter' .Several Silver-washed Fritillaries , including this male that nectared next to one of the WLHs .Have seen Brown Hawker on every visit to the glade , but today a pair in 'the ring' , in flight , landed in trees at the back . Hopefully I made my way towards them , and managed a couple of shots before they were off again , this time for good .On Burnt Gorse , caught up with the 2nd. brood Dingy Skipper from Sunday , or another one , and managed to get a few shots .Very close by , another chance to photograph Oncocera semirubella .Even though their numbers are fewer this year , the female Silver-washed Fritillaries are doing their best for good numbers next year .Even though the Hemp Agrimony is in flower , I still haven't recorded a WLH on the Orchid Bank or the small glade , but this Peacock was making full use of the nectar on offer .Whilst looking on the Hemp Agrimony , I found this 6 spot Burnet moth on the underside of one of the leaves . I left her , but returned 10 minutes later to find what I had expected ,a mass of yellow eggs , which hopefully will see them again next year .
After lunch , I had a quick visit to the Farm lake , but I will write that up tomorrow .

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Tuesday 26th.June 2011

Had one day off volunteering this week , so did a few more jobs around the house , boosting the 'brownie points' , then took the rubbish from yesterday's job to the dump , and combined a walk around South Norwood Country Park afterwards . With mostly cloudy and dull skies but humid , there was little to be seen birdwise . A fleeting glimpse of a juvenile Kestrel begging for food from an adult whilst on the wing was just about the best sighting . Around the lake was the same apart from a male Coot whispering sweet nothings in the ear of his partner . But things changed when a family arrived at the feeding platform across the other side from where I was standing , and proceeded to throw large amounts of bread into the water . Ducks and Geese and other waterfowl started heading for the feast , and I made my way too . By the time I arrived , many of the participants had had their fill and were moving back into cover , but there was still a large amount of bread both on the water and on the platform . The family soon moved off , and I stood quietly watching . The first Brown Rats appeared around the litter bin , and were very wary about coming out into the open , but hunger got the better of them and quick snatches and dashes became the tactic . In the quiet , some became braver , and started to swim out from the bank to get at the floating bread . I spotted a couple of smaller juvenile individuals scampering amongst the waterside vegetation , but not entering the water like the adults . But it got too inviting for one juvenile , who showed poise and determination , as it made it's way along a stick over the water , using another stick as support for it's tail . Eventually , the tail wasn't long enough to reach the other stick , so the tail got wet , but the youngster got it's prize , and made it back to dry land with it .
On the way back home , I stopped at the Common to check on the Broad-leaved Helleborines that I mentioned a few days ago . I reached the clearing that we made a couple of years ago and started counting . I a mater of 2/3 minutes , I had reached 50 , and that was without trying too hard , so it would seem that they are going from strength to strength . Almost the last plant counted produced interest in the shape of a Common Wasp collecting what I assume are pollen sacks . It was continually on the move between flowers and after watching it for several minutes , saw it fly off , with great difficulty . I thought it wasn't going to make it , but after a couple of crash landings , it gained height and was away .

Monday, 25 July 2011

Monday 25th. July 2011

My plan was to re-felt the roof the shed today , but as the morning was so good , I postponed that job till this afternoon , and went to see how the Chalkhill Blues were doing at the Butterfly Conservation site up on the Downs . On arrival , the sun was just starting to cast it's warmth on the bottom of the slope , but everything was very still . As the sun crept up the slope , the first fewspecimens were seen moving . Eventually , I managed to get close enough to get a shot of a male in that soft light . Easily recognised from above , but a bit more challenging looking from below . As things warmed up , more males took to the air , frantically searching the short ground cover for an emerging female . Having found 8/10 males ten days ago on my last visit , I must admit that I was expecting more than the 25 + specimens that I saw today . I did see two females . one disappearing down the slope , with a string of males behind her , and this one that was much more intent on nectaring than anything the males had in mind for her . Just 7 other species were recorded , the best of which were two fresh Small Coppers . The most used nectar source on the site was Wood Sage/Teucrium scorodonia , another of the Labiate family , and as this Buff-tailed Bumblebee would probably tell , very tasty . A few reptiles were also recorded , one being this very gravid looking female Slow Worm , and a female Adder that was willing to sit for a couple of seconds , before making her exit . Elsewhere , the Chalkhill Blues were still very few , with Brown Argus , like this female , recording twice as many sightings . I did find a second brood Dingy Skipper for the second day running , but nothing more exciting than a female Common Blue , also a second brood specimen , made the notebook . With that job still hanging over me , I headed back to the car , to find a female Large White nectaring on a Buddleia on the side of the lane , and right next to the car , another female Red Admiral taking a rest between ovipositing on adjacent Nettles .
And yes , the shed did get done this afternoon .