Friday, 23 November 2018

Jay and Kingfisher.

Earlier this week Phil and I had another attempt at a Buzzard. As usual the bird did not appear, but all was not lost as there was plenty of other action on the bird front. 

Jays again stole the show for the number of appearances, as well as quantity of birds, with 5 being seen together several times as they hunted for Acorns and also bathed in the rather large puddle that had gathered in front of the hide overnight. Most of the time we had cloud cover, that seems to help with Jay pictures, and a few birds posed quite nicely for the camera.

Jay sitting pretty.

Reflection of a Jay.

Jay and Great-spotted Woodpecker eyeing each other up.

Jay on a flimsy perch.

We also had several visits from the female Kingfisher. The pond is slightly too far away for photography, but we saw the Kingfisher dive a few times and we saw her catch a Stickleback on one attempt, and on another 2 she caught Dragonfly larva. To get these her eyesight must be amazing. After catching one of the larva she flew and landed in a small bush quite close. As I was in the middle of changing lenses I had to quickly change back, managing just a single grab shot before she flew on again.
With the large puddle in front of us though, she did settle a couple more times quite close.

Kingfisher with Emperor Dragonfly larva.

Female Kingfisher sitting pretty.

Other smaller birds were also coming and going with great regularity, so after taking too many Jay shots these kept us busy and took our minds off the cold day.

Coal Tit.

Great-spotted Woodpecker.

Goldfinch on Teazle.

Wednesday, 14 November 2018

Ringtail Harrier.

Another stroll with Nigel today over the brooks produced my first Hen Harrier of the Winter. Having said that, it didn't feel at all like Winter as it was decidedly warm in the sunshine.

We started off with seeing a late Peacock looking for a spot to hibernate as well as several Common Darter dragonflies basking in the sunshine.

It was then many Buzzards and Kestrels before Nigel spotted an obvious Harrier in the distance. Watching it through the binoculars the white rump soon showed as it turned and headed towards us confirming our thoughts that it was a Hen Harrier. It was following a tree line and it continued flying straight towards us, although not quite as close as I would have liked, but a few shots were managed before it changed direction.

Ringtail Hen Harrier.

Typical Hunting over the reeds.

A very smart Marsh Harrier was also seen in the area, as well as small numbers of Fieldfare.

On some Ivy several Red Admirals were taking advantage of some late nectar.

Red Admiral and Wasp.

Common Darter and Fly.

Friday, 2 November 2018

November Wall.

I was cursing this morning as the weather was fabulous and I had to take Pen for a hospital appointment. However, when we got back home Pen was tired and wanted a snooze so she told me to clear off, in a roundabout way!!
I decided to head up to High and Over to see if I could find what would almost certainly be my final Wall Brown of the year.

On the way up there I saw a Red Admiral, followed by several more. This is certainly our most numerous Autumn butterfly. At High and Over a male Common Blue was a surprise, and at the same time a Clouded Yellow flew past.

After checking all but one of my most regular Wall Brown spots I was on the point of giving up, when I suddenly spotted a female Wall Brown which appeared to be looking for places to lay its final eggs. In between the short flights it settled in sunny spots to keep warm.

Female Wall Brown.

All the way around the walk Common Darters were very evident. Although they are now well past their best it does brighten up the day seeing these acrobatic insects.

Common Darter.

Towards the end of the walk I had one final check in a sunny spot where Wall Brown were seen in numbers earlier in the year. Although I didn't see any Wall Brown my eye was caught by some Wasp Spider egg sacs in the gorse. 2 were right next to each other and almost looked like Christmas decorations. These sacs are normally deep in the grass and low down, so it was good to find these that were more easily photographed.

2 Wasp Spider Egg Sacs.

With the Wall Brown being spotted it means that the 3rd brood lasted a day over 8 weeks, and if any more are spotted this could be extended further!! It was also good to see one in November.

Sunday, 28 October 2018

More Hiding.

Following last weeks successful session with Phil in the hide, we decided to have another go, especially as the weather was meant to be a little better with less of the harsh sunlight and patches of light cloud promised. This is particularly helpful when photographing birds with white patches that can get burnt out in full sunshine.
We started again with the Jay, and once again they did not disappoint with several visits as they hunted Acorns. It is amazing how many Acorns they can fit each time in their crop, and the way they throw the Acorns about to get them in the right position for swallowing.

Jay juggling Acorns!!

The shot above was taken in full sun, but the promised light cloud soon appeared which gave a more balanced light.

I want more Acorns.

That's better!!

Down the hatch.

Despite many more visits from the Jays we then concentrated on some of the common small birds that were also busy near the hide.

Blue Tit on Spindle.

Blue Tit on Blackthorn.

Goldfinch on Blackthorn.

Great Tit on Blackthorn.

Once again. Many thanks to Phil for a fabulous morning.

Tuesday, 23 October 2018

Autumn Jay.

It has been such a long time since I had the camera out for a decent session, so I was really pleased when Phil suggested an attempt at photographing the Jay.

This Autumn has been very poor for Acorns, this is a food source that the Jay particularly likes, and it is a sure fire way of attracting the birds. Pete recently found a tree that was producing plenty of Acorns so I collected up a few to help the session succeed.

It wasn't long to wait before the birds started to show well, as they collected several Acorns up to store nearby. Although they are members of the Crow family, they are so much more colourful than most of its family members.

Jay hunting for Acorns.

During the session a Fox came reasonably close and a couple of shots were fired off in the short time it was near.

Red Fox.

Meanwhile, the Jays continued to perform for us.

Jay with Acorn.

With the sun shining brightly, but moving round so much that shadows started to show too much we decided to call it a day. A fabulous morning as ever in the hide. It is never dull here, so many thanks as ever to Phil for a great morning.

Thursday, 18 October 2018

Western Conifer Seed Bug.

On Sunday the weather was really dull most of the day. At one point I was sitting looking out of the patio doors feeling very bored when I spotted a bug of some kind walking up the glass on the outside. Having a closer look I saw it was a very attractive insect as well as being one I hadn't seen before.

I managed to get it to climb on a long leaf and photographed it, and despite the very dull conditions I was pretty pleased with the result. It was then a case of finding out the species. Surprisingly, it didn't take too long on the good old internet, and it turned out to be a Western Conifer Seed Bug.

This Bug was introduced into Europe from the USA in 1999 and has since spread quickly, in fact it seems even quicker this year as the following day I saw another whilst visiting my Mum in her respite home in Eastbourne. I then had a message from a good friend who had 3 of them in his office in Worthing.

It certainly is a very handsome Bug anyway.

Western Conifer Seed Bug.

Sunday, 14 October 2018

A Case of Deja vu.

In May last year I came across a larval web of the Small Eggar moth. This is a very rare species in Sussex with it now being thought to be extinct in West Sussex, and no sightings in East Sussex since around 2010, until my find in 2017.

During May this year I hunted in and around the same area hoping that maybe I could strike lucky again and find another web. All the webs I found though were just of the extremely common Brown-tail moth.

That was until June 6th when I wasn't looking for them anymore, I came across a web in an area around half a mile from last years' find. I could see some webbing as well as feeding damage from some larva on a large Blackthorn bush, and looking closer I was very pleased to see some well grown Small Eggar larva.

Last year my last sighting of the larva was early June, after which the larva left the web and became impossible to find, so with this new find I expected that I wouldn't see them again, however, firstly 2 days later I managed to photograph one that was more mature than I managed last year, and then again on the 21st June there were still around 6 larva still feeding by the web. This allowed me to get a picture of one that was well advanced of what I managed in 2017.

I'm hoping that I have found a new stronghold of this beautiful and rare species in Sussex.

Small Eggar larva 6/6/2018.

Small Eggar larva 8/6/2018.

Small Eggar larva 21/6/2018.

The next target of course is seeing the adult moth. This moth pupates for 2-3 years before it becomes a moth and is then on the wing in February and March.