Saturday 29 March 2014

Small Tortoiseshell.

After finishing my duties at home I managed my first longish walk for some time today with a stroll to Greenway Bank and back. Quite a strong breeze was blowing but at least it was quite a warm breeze which meant there were plenty of butterflies active. 5 species in total were seen with the Peacock being the most numerous with Small Tortoiseshell just behind. Brimstone, Comma and Small White being the other species seen. I came across some stinging nettles where a Small Tortoiseshell was egg laying, after she left there were 2 batches of eggs on the leaf with the freshest batch being greener than the older batch. A picture here that I took last July of an egg laying Small Tortoiseshell as well as eggs from today.
On the way out I also saw my first Wheatear of the year as well as good views of Peregrine and Buzzard.

Small Tortoiseshell egg laying (July 2013)

Small Tortoiseshell eggs.

Female Small Tortoiseshell.

Male Comma.

Monday 24 March 2014

Pyrausta Despicata

My first trip out for some time following the back problems. It was a trip up to High and Over looking mainly for more Wall Brown larva and anything else that might show up. The larva were not too forthcoming and only 2 were found including the smallest one I have found to date. 5 Small Tortoiseshell and 1 Red Admiral were seen. The highlight was a Short Eared Owl that we put up, it flew off in the direction of Cradle Valley. A fox, 3 Hares and many Newts in the dew pond as well as my first Pyrausta Despicata micro moth of the year were also seen, showing that Spring is just about here. Other evidence of this was lots of Lesser Bloody-nosed Beetles mating in the area.

Pyrausta Despicata

Lesser Bloody-nosed Beetles

Saturday 15 March 2014

Black Hairstreak and Swallowtail.

Following on from the Large Blue post, two other butterflies that I first saw in 2009 and that I would very much like to improve my images with are the Black Hairstreak and Swallowtail. I saw both of them when Pen and I had a trip to Norfolk. We stopped on the way up near Huntingdon in a wood where I knew the Black Hairstreak were located. However, the wood was large and locating the colony would have been impossible without a local enthusiast showing me the hotspot. Even then the butterflies were very elusive and the weather was also against us. Eventually a butterfly was seen in range and a record shot was obtained. 2 further visits over the next couple of years produced 2 very brief glimpses at the top of the bushes despite many hours looking.

During the Norfolk trip we called into Strumpshaw Fen that had been suggested for the Swallowtail. A 
wonderful day with Norfolk Hawkers and Scarce Chasers and hundreds of Small Tortoiseshells. The Swallowtails however were not so forthcoming until we came across the Dr's garden where we had one nectaring on Sweet William, not the most natural setting. I aim to get a picture this year of one on a more natural flower!!

Monday 10 March 2014

In The Garden.

On Friday I managed to fall heavily straight onto some steps at the base of the spine. This has meant that I am unable to get out and about for a while as I can't move about much. Therefore I've been trying to improve on some of my garden bird shots. Unfortunately I don't get a great variety of birds in the garden, but with luck and patience I'm hoping that something a bit more special will turn up soon. With the big improvement in the weather it is very frustrating not being able to get right out in the countryside though!!


Female Chaffinch

Great Tit


Saturday 8 March 2014

Butterflies Becoming Active.

During the week I've managed a short and a longer trip looking for Butterflies and signs of them. It started on Tuesday when I took a friend, James, to see if we could locate some more Wall Brown larva on the Downland. In total I managed to show him 4 in pretty short time as well as spotting a Small Tortoiseshell.

Wall Brown Larva

The following day I met up with Nigel in local woodland hoping for my first Brimstone of the year. It was a fabulous day and by the end of it we had around 20 Brimstones as well as a Comma, which was also my first of the year. Finally a Small Tortoiseshell was seen as the temperature cooled down. An even better sighting however was a very early Orange Underwing moth. With fair, settled warmer weather in the forecast there should be plenty of butterflies about in the next few days.

My first Comma of the year.

Friday 7 March 2014

Little Gulls and Kumlein's Gull

At last I managed to get some time to call over to West Sussex to see the dainty Little Gulls at Worthing and the Kumlein's Gull at Littlehampton. 
Brooklands Park was first and the Little Gulls were showing straight away. It immediately became apparent that in flight shots were going to be very difficult. There have been so many excellent in flight shots of these gulls, but not by me!! Fortunately two of them posed on the water in front of us making it a little easier.

This one was laughing at my in flight attempts!!

It was then on to Littlehampton where the tide was coming in strongly. The Kumlein's was on the far bank for a few minutes before flying upstream and out of sight. The Glaucus Gull had obviously been feeding all morning and was asleep at the end of the breakwater.

We then went back to Widewater again where the Mergansers were a little closer than we have had them before.

This looks like a scene from The Exorcist but there is a fish there!!

Monday 3 March 2014

Large Blue Target.

Back in 2009 I saw three new British butterflies for me with the Large Blue being the first of them. I have not managed to return to Somerset since and this year I very much hope that I can get back and improve on the images I obtained then. It was a double reason for going to Collard Hill then as nearby there was a Little Bittern that was on the RSPB reserve at Ham Wall. Matt and I headed for Ham Wall first but struggled to find the reserve so we then went to Collard Hill as there was a window of brightness in the sky. We soon found the Large Blue but they were very active and it was quite difficult getting decent images. After a couple of hours Matt went back to the car but I decided to hang about a little longer, and I was glad I did as I found a Large Blue posing well and then a mating pair sitting high up and allowing several photographs. On the way back to the car the heavens opened and thunder and lightening nearby made me speed up somewhat!! We then headed back to Ham Wall where we found the reserve. We soon heard the high dog like call of the Little Bittern in the reedbeds and then amazingly we saw it in flight several times. We also saw our first ever Scarlet Tiger Moth on the reserve.

Our first Large Blue.

Female ovipositing.

Mating pair. (male on right).