Thursday 29 October 2015

Three Seasons In One Week.

It certainly has been a strange week with many rarities seen. The week started of course with the Long-tailed Blue, a Mediterranean species and one that gives a Summer feel. 2 Firecrest in the garden on Tuesday, an excellent male Black Redstart on the drive of the house as well as several stunning views of the fabulous Pallas's Warbler in Horseshoe Plantation bringing Autumn back and then this morning Matt found a Snow Bunting up on Seaford Head giving it a Winter feel. Unfortunately the weather this morning was pretty dire and the light was not good, the bird was also not as tame as many Snow Bunting can be but it was still a lovely sight. 
An unusual mixture here with another one of Tuesdays' Long-tailed Blue and the Snow Bunting. 

Male Long-tailed Blue.

Snow Bunting on Seaford Head.

Tuesday 27 October 2015

Long-tailed Blue Magic.

With another male Long-tailed Blue found yesterday I was lucky to catch up with the butterfly and manage a couple of shots. The weather was cool and cloudy as well as being pretty breezy and conditions for photography were extremely poor. However, the shots I got were quite pleasing.

Male Long-tailed Blue.

This morning started off really good with 2 magnificent Firecrest moving through the garden. Following this it was back to the Long-tailed Blue where the target was to re-find it and hope to get an open wing shot as the weather warmed up. Meeting James on site it was then waiting for the sun to warm the butterfly up. With it being a warm wind the butterfly did fly a couple of times before settling on some tall grass. As the butterfly then opened its wings it was then a problem with the steady breeze blowing the grass and butterfly about and trying to get some sharp photos. All in all I was very pleased to improve on the shots I managed to get on Sunday.

Male Long-tailed Blue.

Sunday 25 October 2015

They Thought It Was All Over. Well It Isn't Yet!!

Over the last 10 weeks or so the hunt has been on for Long-tailed Blues. Although I have been out of action for the last 4 weeks due to the bad back my fellow hunters, Neil, James and Mark have continued the hunt with countless hours spent in the field with very little success. This followed excellent early signs with several migrant butterflies and many eggs found in various sites. With it now being late October it was very much looking like the weather had killed the early stages off  and we were going to be disappointed. However, on Friday Neil found his 3rd newly emerged Long-tailed Blue of the year, this one a female at Beeding. The weather was cool for the next couple of days and the butterfly hardly moved. I was eventually tempted to go over today with James as better weather was forecast. On arrival there was already several people looking at the butterfly and we all took a few pictures of her. Eventually the sun heated her up and she opened her wings to warm up before she flew high into the bushes. Shortly after this James and I decided to call it a day, especially as there were now more people arriving.

Female Long-tailed Blue with dew drops.

Female Long-tailed Blue.

We had just about made it back to Lewes when James received a message to say that a newly emerged male had been found at the site. James was really keen to see a fresh male so at the next roundabout, the Kingston roundabout, we turned round and headed back. Mark Johnson, who came down from Lincolnshire for the butterfly, had found the male on the pea plant whilst walking back to his car. With the sun now shining it was very soon before the wings opened to show the beautiful blue colours and after warming up he flew up into a bush and landed on some Wild Clematis.  A terrific specimen and well worth returning to Beeding to see it. I later heard that Neil had found another 2 butterflies at another West Sussex site. Great to get back out after 4 weeks of being stuck at home and also good to see that the season still has some delights for us, despite it being only 2 months to Christmas!!

Male Long-tailed Blue.

Male Long-tailed Blue on Wild Clematis.

Saturday 10 October 2015

Bad Backs and Black Veins.

Unfortunately I have been unable to get out for 2 weeks now due to a bit of conservation work going wrong. Basically I was trying to clear some Cantoneaster and in trying to pull some out by the roots the plant won when my back popped and put me in agony!!
Due to this I thought I should look back over the year to see if I can find anything interesting that I hadn't posted.

Back in June on the North Downs of Kent, Nigel and I were on the slopes looking for some of the fabulous orchids that grow in the area when I put up a male Black-veined Moth. This was really lucky as this is one of Britain's rarest moths. I knew there was a possibility of seeing one as last year I came across a female in the same area. This made it even more special as this now meant I had pictures of both male and female!!
An hour or so later on another bank Nigel found another one, also a male. It had already been a great day with several rare orchids seen as well as plenty of Heath Fritillaries. The moths were the icing on the cake, especially for Nigel that had missed the trip last year when I had seen the female, and it gave him his 3rd lifer for the day following 2 new orchids for him.

Male Black-veined Moth. Note the upturned abdomen.

Female Black-veined Moth from 2014. Note the thicker abdomen.