Monday 30 December 2013

Return of the Hare

With a bit of cabin fever setting in I just had to get out for a walk. Last winter I found an arable field that all winter had several Brown Hares gathered and today I was pleased to see 5 Hares showing again. Over the next few months I hope to get a few photos, the picture here is one from the same field from last winter where the Hare was laying low in its form and allowed me to creep up close to it. Of course a picture of them boxing is the target for the future.

Sunday 22 December 2013

Scotch Argus

My last visit to the Lake District was early August 2012 to see the Scotch Argus, seeing this species would mean I only had 2 more species to complete my British Mainland butterfly list.
Once again I had Nigel to thank for driving me up there, but we were confident that we would find the quarry as it is quite common in the flight season at Arnside Knot, one of only 2 sites not in Scotland.
We quickly found some flying around and then it was hoping to find a fresh specimen sitting in a decent position for some photographs. There were still a few High Brown Fritillaries flying but these were now past their best, a very brief view also of a Northern Brown Argus. Eventually a few Scotch Argus began to settle and allow some pictures although it was some time before we had the best specimen of the day that had only recently emerged.
High Brown Fritillary.

Scotch Argus.


Earlier this year the Lulworth Skipper was seen (my first post on this blog) so I now only have the Chequered Skipper to complete my British Mainland butterfly list.

Wednesday 18 December 2013

Lake District Hunt Day 2

The second day started off pretty hot with wall to wall sunshine, not what you expect perhaps in the Lake District. Following on from the success of the first day our targets for the day were the Northern Brown Argus and the High Brown Fritillary. We started at Latterbarrow where the N.B. Argus can be seen with the white spot on the forewing, normally only seen in Scotland. Despite a pretty thorough search no Argus were seen. A fresh Painted Lady was the only notable sighting. We thought we were perhaps too late in the season for the Argus. We then headed to Arnside Knot. It was now very hot, over 30 degrees and with the steep hills it was very hard work. A few Fritillaries seen but they were so active it was hard to say if they were Dark Green or High Brown. The first of the confirmed sightings were a couple of Northern Brown Argus. One was still very fresh although others seen through the day were looking well past their best. High Browns were then also seen but in the heat they did not stop. The odd Grayling was also seen, strangely they have an earlier flight time in the Lakes than they do in Sussex. At lunchtime we went down to the town to have a pie and pint and decide whether we were too tired for another go. Fortunately we decided to go back on site where eventually we found a High Brown willing to pose briefly. It did fortunately show all the id features to distinguish it from the Dark Greens. A fantastic 2 days with all target species seen and photographed.
Painted Lady.

Northern Brown Argus.


High Brown Fritillary.

Monday 16 December 2013

Mountain Ringlet and Large Heath.

With all my latest blogs being a bit birdy I thought it was time to add a few butterflies so it's back a bit in time. Nigel Kemp has enticed me away twice now to see some of the northern species that I had never seen before. The first trip was a 2 day visit to the Lake District in July 2011. The first stop was Langdale to see the Mountain Ringlet. Leaving Sussex at around 3am we hit the Lake District around 10am on a hot sunny day. After a very steep climb we started the butterfly hunt and it wasn't too long before a tiny dark butterfly flew past. Despite reading that the Mountain Ringlet is small it was still a surprise to see how small it really was. We soon came across several more and they were pretty active in the sunshine, they generally settled deep in the undergrowth so it wasn't easy to get decent pictures of them, however, after some time we both found a few individuals that allowed some photographs.

Male Mountain Ringlet.

Female Mountain Ringlet.

After descending back down the mountain we found that the camp site we were going to stay at was full. This actually turned out to be very lucky for us as it made us head for Meathop Moss then instead of waiting for the next day. This gave us then a full day at Arnside Knott on the 2nd day. The target at Meathop Moss was the Large Heath. Despite it being late afternoon when we arrived the butterflies were easy to find and they were VERY active, settling for seconds only. Eventually I spotted a very fresh female that was getting a bit of attention from some males. In trying to hide from them she was settling a bit longer which gave us the chance we were hoping for and we both managed a few pictures of her. We then headed off for a bite to eat before going back onto site where the butterflies were still active at 9-30 in the evening!!

Female Large Heath.

Thursday 12 December 2013

Long-tailed Duck

With the weather looking better towards the East it was decided a trip to Rye Harbour was the best bet. The bird of the day was without doubt a smart Long-tailed Duck in the ternery pool. The timing was just right as it swam along in front of the hide just after we arrived.

It was then on to Castle Water, lots of common duck and gulls. In front of the hide Pete spotted a sleepy Snipe, very well camouflaged on the tiny island. Unfortunately we missed the Great White Egret that had been spotted earlier in the day. From the Bittern viewpoint up to 6 Marsh Harriers seen with 3 dropping in to roost in the reeds.

Monday 9 December 2013

Spoonie Returns

The Tide Mills Spoonbill has returned after a few days in the Cuckmere and I felt I had to go and have another look at this very confiding bird. It was finding plenty of food, as was a Little Egret that was feeding alongside the Spoonbill.


Friday 6 December 2013

Hen Harrier

I've just decided to splash out on a new lens, not the top notch one I would like but cannot justify, but hopefully one that will still give me some acceptable shots. After much deliberation I decided on the same lens that Matt manages to get some success with. Today I took it out for a long walk from High and Over towards Bo Peep. Being a weighty beast I was wondering why the heck I had bothered as there seemed to be very little about for me to test it out on. Eventually, near Bo Peep a large flock of Jackdaws took off from a field and out of the flock a ring tailed Hen Harrier appeared. Although a little too distant it was great to get a decent sighting making the effort worthwhile. 
Hen Harrier being mobbed by a corvid.

Sunday 1 December 2013

Chalkhill Magic

I am very lucky to have a large colony of Chalkhill Blue butterflies within walking distance of home at High and Over. This year was a particularly good year for them at this site as well and I managed several visits during the flight season during July and August.
Male Chalkhill Blue

Female Chalkhill Blue

Mating Pair