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.

Friday 5 October 2018

Two Short Sessions.

I've only managed a couple of short visits to the patch this week despite the wonderful Autumnal weather. 

The first visit was good seeing several female Wall Brown busy laying eggs in the grass tussocks. Hopefully this will give me several hours of fun looking for the young larva in the new year. Several Wall Brown were also busy nectaring on the Devil's-bit Scabious flowers, and it was while I was watching this that I saw an odd shape on one of the stems. Looking through the binoculars I could see it was a caterpillar. By getting much closer I could photograph it where it was and I could see it was the larva of the Knot Grass moth.

Knot Grass larva on Devil's-bit Scabious stem.

Further down the hill I was watching a female Small Copper that was clearly looking for egg laying plants. When it flew up I checked the leaf it was concentrating on and I could see several Small Copper eggs, some of which had already hatched, as well as feeding signs of the larva.

Small Copper eggs and feeding signs.

Several Clouded Yellow were also seen flying strongly around giving no opportunities for the camera. Always good to see these though, especially at this time of year when there are fewer species still on the wing.

A couple of days later I headed back up the hill just hoping I may see a Clouded Yellow going to roost. It was a little hopeful, and although I did see 2 flying around they settled out of sight. However, there was a pretty fresh Small Copper that I saw halfway up a bush taking advantage of the last bit of sunshine for the day. I could just about reach it without disturbing it, although there are times like this when I wish I was a little taller!!

Female Small Copper in the late afternoon sunshine.