Tuesday 31 March 2015

A Swallow and a Snake.

Two sessions today looking for Wall larvae and the Shrike. Good views after a while of the Shrike but it once again avoided having any photos taken. For the 2nd time in less than a week I managed 9 larvae. Will I get a double figure count one day?
On the 2nd session I spotted a Grass Snake basking in the sun in the middle of a bush. It was very grey in colour and will I assume soon shed its skin. The eye was quite clear so it may already have shed some. Strangely it was laying on egg shells so I wonder if it had eaten the contents of the egg. Just after this I saw a Fox in the distance and I was hoping it might head my way. I also saw my first Swallow of the year as it was hawking for insects near the top of the hill. On my return to the car a Marsh Harrier flew over, an unusual sight in the area.

The grey Grass Snake.

A clear eye though.

Sparrow Hawk hunting nearby.

Friday 20 March 2015

Shrike, Larva and Kittiwakes.

It's been a bit of a mixture these last few days with a couple of attempts at improving my Shrike pictures. Not much luck here with only a slight improvement. I was pleased to get a photo today of a Wall Brown larva eating away on the grass and showing its mouth parts. This afternoon the Richards Pipit gave distant but good views along with quick glimpses of Bearded Tits. It was then onto Splash Point for an attempt at the Kittiwakes. 

Great Grey Shrike.

Wall Brown larva feeding.

Kittiwake calling.


Tuesday 17 March 2015

More Adder Action.

It was back to the Downland today looking for the Adders again. In all 7 were seen including three basking together, which would have made a cracking image if I was able to approach closer than I would have been able. In amongst one Gorse Bush a male and female together allowed a close approach. In fact the female was almost ignoring me, just moving into the cover a little and then coming straight back out again. I watched her for some time until the sun weakened a little and she vanished down a hole under a Gorse branch.

Partly hiding in the Gorse.

The stunning Adder.

On the way home I called into Horseshoe Plantation where I had great views of two Firecrest and several Chiffchaff.

Sunday 15 March 2015

Bufo bufo.

My thanks to Nigel for letting me know that there were Toads mating in a Lewes dew-pond. As the weather was not too good yesterday I decided to have a walk over there to see if they were still at it!! In very dull conditions and with a cold wind blowing I was pleased to find 5 pairs of Toad mating. There was lots of spawn, both Toad and Frog, and after laying along the pond and getting a little wet, I managed a couple of shots that just about made the trip worthwhile. Amongst all the spawn one Frog did come to the surface briefly.
A pair of Peregrines were also seen flying together and showing the size difference between the male and female.

Common Toad (Bufo bufo) amongst the Frog spawn.

Thursday 12 March 2015

Adder Up.

The last couple of days I've been enjoying watching the Adders starting to emerge. Yesterday in a local woodland at least 5 were seen including a large male that was starting to shed its skin.

Today on the Downs I had another go at finding them. Despite a really cool breeze 3 were found sheltering low in the bushes.

Male Adder.

Female Adder.

Also yesterday a Brimstone was seen as well as my first Comma of the year. Already this year I have 5 butterfly species on my list and depressingly this is around 10 percent of the species I am likely to see this year!!

Tuesday 10 March 2015

Seven Spots Spotted!!

A fabulously warm day today. I couldn't make my mind up where to go, so I decided to stay local and walk around the usual patch. No sign of the Shrike at first, although it had been seen a few minutes before I arrived. I then went along the valley and had some quite close fly-over Buzzards. 


I then found a Gorse Bush with several Seven-spot Ladybirds coming out of hibernation. There was a pair mating and one individual made a nice picture sitting on the yellow Gorse flower.

Mating Seven-spot Ladybirds. (14 Spots)!!!

Seven-spot Ladybird on Gorse.

A male Brimstone was flying along the Comp path as well as a Peacock. Heading back towards the car park a smart Fox came out of the bushes but was too alert to get close to. I then had good views of the Shrike as well as 6 or more Small Tortoiseshell. A great walk with plenty of interest throughout.

Saturday 7 March 2015

Tortoiseshell, Wall larva and Shrike.

Yesterday near High and Over I was looking for Wall Brown larva when, looking up I spotted a Great Grey Shrike nearby. Totally unexpected as well as giving some good views. After watching it for a while it did the usual Shrike thing of vanishing!! Another brief view in the afternoon before it vanished again. This morning I spent a couple of hours hoping it would reappear, but no luck. This afternoon, following a walk along Cradle Valley I re-found it again where it gave brief views. It seems to favour the bushes between the wood at the Littlington end and the path up from the bottom of the valley at the Northern end of High and Over. It is much easier to watch from the river bank as the whole area can be seen. 

Great Grey Shrike.

Back to the Wall Brown larva and yesterday and today I found 2 larva. One was the same but the 2nd today was  much smaller than the 2nd one yesterday. The large one today I managed to photograph feeding on the grass, which shows the feeding pattern on the grass. Also today I saw at least 6 Small Tortoiseshell.

Wall Brown larva feeding.

Thursday 5 March 2015

A Yellow Kind of Day.

The butterfly year really felt underway today with my 3rd and 4th sighting of the year. Within 50 metres of leaving the car I had spotted my first Brimstone of the year, with the sun reflecting off it and making it stand out I saw it from a distance away. As the air temperature was still cool it posed well, and it was also in very good condition. 

Looking very Spring-like on the Catkins.

Later on the walk my 2nd Peacock of the year fluttered past. This one was looking as though it had had a tough winter, being faded and tatty.
A Red Kite was also seen flying over Rowland Wood along with the normal Buzzards.