Friday, 21 October 2016

Eurasian Jay.

Earlier in the year I was lucky to get an invite from my good friend Phil Winter to photograph Kingfishers and Little Owls from his hides. On Tuesday this week I had to call on him to pay for a camera I have just bought from him and whilst I was there he suggested visiting a hide he had recently put up to photograph Jays. Of course I jumped at the chance and it wasn't long before I was sitting in the hide as Phil went to park the Land Rover before coming back to join me. Even before Phil got back a Jay had called in and taken a couple of Acorns. From then on we had around 10 more visits before we decided that I should have a worthwhile shot or 2. Once again all this was possible due to the hard work and patience that Phil has used to know where to build the hide. A few of the shots follows of the Jay. 


Much too beautiful to be a member of the Crow family!!

Whilst I have been experimenting with a couple of cameras trying to decide which to get I borrowed for just a couple of shots of a Wryneck. Unfortunately the software on the computer wasn't compatible for some reason. I have now however managed to get those shots sorted so the following Wryneck is from several weeks ago!!


Thursday, 20 October 2016

Not For The Faint Hearted.

On our regular Wednesday walk Nigel and I went to see if we could find any late Fen Raft Spiders at Pevensey Levels. It is now very late in the season so we went to a ditch where we had seen several spiders a few weeks ago. On scanning the surface foliage we both found an adult spider each as well as a single juvenile. The adults were certainly looking as if they were approaching the end of their life, but the juvenile looked to be in fine condition and ready to help the population of this extremely rare spider going next year!! This will almost certainly be the final sightings of these this year.

Juvenile Fen Raft Spider.

Adult Female Fen Raft Spider.

With just a couple of Red Admirals seen along with small numbers of Common Darter and Migrant Hawkers the only other insect of interest was a Hornet seen on ivy just before we got back to the cars.

Hornet on ivy.

Friday, 14 October 2016

Wonder of the day.

Since I started doing the odd bit of moth trapping I have always wanted to catch a Merveille du jour, a particularly pretty moth and not a rare one either. Unfortunately so far, I haven't managed to get any here. However, when I rang Nigel on Wednesday to plan a stroll somewhere he told me he had a couple that he had caught overnight. With this in mind we decided to meet at his place and go from there. Many of our moths have attractive and imaginative names, and the name of this beautiful moth translates to 'Wonder of the day'. It was a real treat to see this, my first encounter, and it really does live up to its name. When at rest on lichen they are almost invisible!!

Merveille du jour.

2 Merveille du jour.

Following this we went for a stroll around the Pevensey Levels where we saw a Ring Ouzel and a few Common Darters and Migrant Hawkers. I also spotted a Knot Grass larva walking across the path, presumably heading off to pupate.

Knot Grass larva.

Yesterday I returned again to Tide Mills where I found 3 Clouded Yellow at roost as well as another 2 just about flying in the cool breeze. 3 Wheatear were also showing well, feeding up before the long flight South.

Clouded Yellow.


Tuesday, 11 October 2016

Tide Mills Comes Up Trumps.

Despite the Red-backed Shrike deciding to depart around a week ago Tide Mills is still producing a few delights. On the 18th August I saw a Clouded Yellow egg laying and over the last couple of weeks the results of these, and other eggs laid have been showing with several very fresh butterflies on the wing. Strangely all the Clouded yellow that I'm seeing there seem to be males, although I'm sure there will be a few females hiding somewhere, although perhaps the females migrate back South as soon as they can so they can lay eggs that stand a chance of surviving the winter. Yesterday I called there in the small hope of finding a non active Clouded Yellow and even more unlikely, a Long-tailed Blue. As expected I wasn't lucky on either front. There were though several Wheatear passing through and a couple of shots were managed, although they wouldn't let me get as close as I would have hoped!!

Wheatear near the beach.

Wheatear on Buddleia.

Today I called back again to carry on the challenge. Strangely I didn't see a single Wheatear but with the Clouded Yellow I did get lucky. I saw well over a dozen including one individual that was so fresh it was only flying short distances and allowed a close approach.

Clouded Yellow on Blackberry.

Saturday, 8 October 2016

Curlew Sandpiper.

My thanks to Matt for ringing his 'Old Man' to tell him about a Curlew Sandpiper today in the Cuckmere. I was sitting at home wishing I had got up earlier and gone Ring Ouzel hunting again and basically not sure what to do, so the call was very welcome. It was very special with this being my first close encounter with one of these birds, although I had seen a few before at both Titchwell as well as the Cuckmere, and well done to Andy Whitcombe for finding the bird yesterday. The bird was mixed in with a group of 6 Dunlin and all were happy to carry on feeding and preening whilst we were able to admire and photograph the birds.

Curlew Sandpiper (2nd from left) with 5 Dunlin.

Curlew Sandpiper.

Curlew Sandpiper is a 'Wader'!!

Curlew Sandpiper after a preen.


As it was I missed lots of Ring Ouzels today with Matt seeing over 100 today!! Maybe I should have got up earlier.

Friday, 7 October 2016

Cricket to Ouzel.

There is now a very definite autumnal feel to the weather and with the insect life also winding down over the last few days it is only a matter of time before the macro lens is put away until the spring. Of course there will still be a few insects about and yesterday whilst doing a bit of Cantoneaster clearing I saw a very fresh Common Blue as well as a Clouded Yellow. A recent trip to Rye Harbour NR with Nigel looking for dragonflies we found a few Long-winged Conehead crickets along with a few spiders, including a late Wasp Spider.

Female Long-winged Conehead.

This was followed a few days later by a hunt for Hawkmoth larva in Friston Forest. Although we failed to find any Hawkmoth larva we did both find a Pale Tussock larva on Sallow. The light was very poor deep in the tree foliage but it was good to see one of these, my first for many years.

Pale Tussock larva.

A female Speckled Wood also put in an appearance along the woodland ride.

Female Speckled Wood.

In the garden over the last few days a Hummingbird Hawkmoth has put in the odd appearance, this has for me been a very poor year for this stunning migrant moth with only 6 sightings all year. Another migrant insect, the Painted Lady has also been in the garden nectaring on the Buddleia. Whilst mowing the grass I saw the butterfly land in the Clematis where I managed a photo of the under-side.

Painted Lady.

For a few days each Autumn Ring Ouzels can be seen locally as they make their way back south on their migration. I've only seen them a few times in the past but today I was up before dawn hoping to see some. It was not at all easy to start with and I was beginning to think I would be out of luck when after a good walk round I saw a fabulously marked male nearby. It was really dull this morning but the white chest really showed up well. A little after this the birds became more active both in flight and calling and it was soon clear there were good numbers in the bushes. At one time I could see 7 with more deeper in the bush. Difficult to say how many there were in total but it was well into double figures. I more than doubled today my Ring Ouzel life sightings!! The other great bird sighting was a Woodcock which nearly flew into me and Bob Self who was chatting to me. It landed just 20 feet away and slowly wandered off into the undergrowth!!
Just after this my only chance of a photo today of the Ring Ouzel. All the birds were quite wary but one landed a little nearer and although the light was still very poor a photo was achieved, and you can just about see what it is!!

Male Ring Ouzel.

Wednesday, 5 October 2016

Willow Emerald Hunt.

After seeing my first ever Willow Emerald damselflies during our Norfolk short break recently I was tempted to go to a site just into Surrey to see if I could get them a bit closer to home. The first bit of interest was seeing a mating pair of Hornets that had managed to fall in the top lake. I managed to climb out on a fallen tree trunk and rescue them from the water by getting them to crawl on a twig. Unfortunately before I could get the camera to record the event they had flown off. A single Willow Emerald was seen just after this, but the light was pretty poor. After a while we headed for the smaller lake where the lighting was much better. We were almost to the point of giving up when I spotted one high up on a tree. This one wouldn't descend, but a few yards further on we suddenly came to an area where several were flying together, including 2 pairs in tandem. They all stayed well away from the camera so the images here are much more cropped than I would have liked. 

Willow Emerald on Ash.

Willow Emerald.

There was also some other odonata interest.

Mating Common Darters.

Male Migrant Hawker.