Sunday, 23 September 2018

Spring Reeling Gropper.

Back in the long forgotten Spring Matt helped me see and hear a fabulous Grasshopper Warbler that we saw at pretty close quarters as it performed the famous 'reeling' call. It was an extremely early morning start and the sun was not even showing when the bird appeared, but it was certainly worth getting up for!!

Put simply, it is a sight and sound that I am not going to forget in a hurry!! I can only show you the sight, but if you haven't heard the fabulous 'reeling' before it is well worth looking at some of the recordings on Youtube that are available of these birds performing.

The bird first appeared some distance away, but gradually it came closer until it was just a matter of around 20 feet away.

Reeling Grasshopper Warbler

Male Grasshopper Warbler.

Friday, 14 September 2018

Small Pearls.

It has been very difficult over the past few weeks to get out much, so I have been looking over photos from the past few months, and I noticed that I had somehow not posted any photos of the Small Pearl-bordered Fritillaries that have in 2017 been re-introduced back into East Sussex.

2 local woodlands were used for this with one being the main woodland that only lost the butterfly a few years ago. This has been the more successful of the 2 woods. I only managed to visit the wood twice in the early summer brood but a few of these delightful butterflies did show quite well.

There was even a 2nd brood hat did very well, but once again, I failed to get there during the flight period. 

A small selection of the images I managed on those 2 short visits.

Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary.

Sunday, 9 September 2018

Autumnal Delights.

With so few opportunities to get out recently, apart from a few very quick visits looking for 3rd brood Wall Brown, it was good today to have a longer session on the patch.

The first 3rd brood Wall Brown was seen on Thursday by James, some distance away from the normal spot. 3 days later today, I found 7 Wall Brown where the 3rd brood does normally show. The first Wall I saw was actually the same geriatric 2nd brood individual that I have been seeing several times over the past week. Then however, I saw 6 very fresh butterflies that were clearly 3rd brood. I even had a mating pair. However, for the rest of the long walk I couldn't find any further Wall Brown.

Male Wall Brown.

Also near the spot where the Wall Brown were, was a very nice Hummingbird Hawk-moth that landed several times on the fence posts and a couple of bushes. Each time it settled it only stayed for a few seconds, until it landed on a bush. Here it stayed just long enough for a couple of shots. Most photos of these are taken on the wing as they feed.

Hummingbird Hawk-moth.

Lots of tired butterflies of many species were seen over the rest of the walk including a late Silver-spotted Skipper, many Adonis Blue, a few Chalk-hill Blue and lots of Small Heath.

On Thursday I spotted a Clouded Yellow egg laying. Watching closely an egg was seen being laid which will hopefully become a butterfly towards the end of October, along with many other eggs that the butterfly was laying. 

Clouded Yellow egg.

The Red Admiral pupa in the garden looks very smart now. It even appears to have gold leaf embedded in the pupa. A very smart and beautiful pupa.

Red Admiral pupa 3/9/2018

Red Admiral pupa 9/9/2018. Now slightly paler.

Sunday, 2 September 2018

Hornet Robberfly.

My brief outings continued with a short visit to the patch, once again hoping for the 3rd brood Wall Brown on the same date as last year's appearance.
It wasn't to be however, and after a short while I saw James who was busy photographing a very fresh male Holly Blue. It didn't pose as well once I turned up, but I did get a couple of shots of this tricky species.

Male Holly Blue.

Further along the valley we were into the area where many Wasp Spiders are showing. Although I now have several shots of these stunning spiders I still couldn't resist a couple more. This included the more unusual under-side shot.

Female Wasp Spider.

On the walk along we had seen a couple of Hornet Robberflies. On the return we were hoping to see another and we struck lucky when one was spotted, this one had caught a small Beetle and was sucking the 'innards' out of it. Although it flew a few times it did land closely each time and a few photos were taken. These Robberflies are great hunters and fabulous to watch, certainly a highlight being able to watch these.

Hornet Robberfly with prey.

Yesterday a quick visit to Friston Forest looking for Hawk-moth larva. Unfortunately, I couldn't find any. Some good views of Spotted Flycatchers, possibly a family group of around 4 or 5. The only larva I could find was a Peppered Moth on Sallow. This larva has amazing camouflage, looking like a twig.

Peppered Moth larva.

I also had a Red Admiral larva on the garage door on Thursday. As it fell off the door when I opened the door I placed it on some foliage in the garden. Later that day I noticed it had started to make a small larval tent in a Buddleia leaf. The next day it had started to pupate and it was just possible to photograph it in the leaf. Today it has now turned into a proper pupa and I hope I will be able to observe it as it matures.

Red Admiral in the process of pupating.

Wednesday, 29 August 2018

Lady Adonis.

It has been difficult in the past few weeks to get out into the countryside, so it was quite a relief over the past few days to get 2 decent strolls in. Even then, the weather was not particularly helpful on the first walk.

However, it was good to see many Adonis Blues on the patch. The 2nd brood has been pretty good locally. Most of the males are now looking as though they have been out a while, but there were plenty of females showing, with several nectaring or resting on the numerous Devil's-bit Scabious and others busy egg laying in the short turf.

Roosting Female Adonis Blue.

Female Adonis Blue on Devil's-bit Scabious.

I have heard several reports of high numbers of Autumn Ladies Tresses on the downs. However, my small colonies on the patch are very poor at the moment with only 3 single plants in 3 areas. It is still early though, so I am hoping more will show in the near future. Of the 3 seen, one was still not fully out, whilst the other 2 were quite different with one very impressive plant having the flowers circling around the stem, and the other one all the flower was one side of the stem. These are the final orchids to flower each year, really sad to think another season is already coming to a close.

Autumn Ladies Tresses.

Autumn Ladies Tresses.

I am expecting the final brood of Wall Brown to start this week. Yesterday all I saw were a couple of very tatty 2nd brood which were just hanging on. There were very large numbers of Small Heath with some areas having double figures all flying together. Some old Chalk-hill Blues were also just hanging on, but a Small Copper seen on the Scabious was extremely fresh with its wings still partly folded up. Let's hope for a good 3rd brood of these lovely little gems.

Several Wasp Spiders were also still showing well, and some of the females are now very large.

Sunday, 19 August 2018

Anyone For Cricket.

With the weather taking a turn for the worse lately, it was a case of trying to work out what to go and look for.

Following my last hunt for the Southern Emerald Damselfly ending in failure I had assumed that the damselfly had moved on. Then earlier this week Nigel saw either that one, or another male, so on Friday we both met up to see if we could have another go at this rare beauty. 
After much hunting in perfect conditions all we had for our efforts was a Small Red-eyed Damselfly, which kept too far out in the pool, and a rather nice female Great Green Bush-cricket.

Female Great Green Bush-cricket.

The only other time during the week when I had any camera action was a walk along the local patch where the Adonis Blues are suddenly doing well. Although the conditions did not bear well for photography, one female posed reasonably well. I also found a larger Buff-tip larva than those I found a couple of weeks ago.

Female Adonis Blue.

Buff-tip larva.

Saturday, 11 August 2018

Wasp Spiders.

I can still remember the very first time I saw a Wasp Spider. It was around 25 years ago at the top of Charleston Bottom on the edge of Friston Forest when Pen and I had taken our 2 young lads for a walk there. I then saw them occasionally over following years, although most years I failed in my searches for them.

However, as the years went on it has become clear that Wasp Spiders were becoming gradually more common. Now though, over the past 4 years, they have become very much more numerous locally. Last year I saw well over 100 of these wonderful creatures. Today was only my 2nd of the year, but in a small area there were large numbers of them. It was actually quite difficult photographing one without disturbing others and their webs nearby.

As the Autumn approaches many more of them will be seen!!
The main prey of these spiders is Grasshoppers, although one today had a Small White and a Common Blue in its web.

Wasp Spider (Argiope bruennichi).

Before seeing the spiders I had seen large numbers of Silver-spotted Skippers on the Downland slopes. Many were females looking to lay eggs on the Sheep Fescue grass. Surprisingly, I had never seen the egg of this species before, so when I spotted a female that appeared to be egg laying I watched very closely, seeing the egg pop out from the end of the abdomen. Then looking through the camera with the macro lens on closest focus I spotted another 4 eggs in very close proximity to the one just laid. These were not as white as the freshly laid one so had been there for longer. For such a small butterfly the eggs were surprisingly large.

Silver-spotted Skipper Egg.

On the subject of butterfly eggs, last week I was on the local patch when I saw a female Wall Brown go into a scrape, obviously looking to lay. When she flew off I had a good look on all the small roots expecting to see an egg. However, I was very surprised to find 2 eggs next to each other that the butterfly had laid on a Thistle seed-head.

Wall Brown eggs on Thistle Seed-head.