Thursday 31 October 2019

Snow and a Dragon.

With Autumn now beginning to turn to Winter the camera is now getting little use so a call from Matt telling me he had found a reasonably confiding Snow Bunting yesterday morning gave me the chance of having something to aim at.

I was quite limited for time unfortunately due to having already had a call from Mum who needed me to be in Lewes to be there when her Dr called, but Matt was prepared to wait near the bird to help me get on it straight away.  This turned out to be a good call for both of us!!

The bird was feeding well along the high-tide mark and was finding plenty of food, so it may hang on for a while with luck.  Although it wasn't the tamest Snow Bunting it did allow quite a close approach, that was until a runner came along the bank.  At this point the bird flew and circled several times before landing further back along the bank.

At this point we left the bird to carry on feeding as Matt knew several others were coming down to see the bird.

Snow Bunting.

As Matt and I headed back along the riverbank towards the car we both spotted a Dragonfly flying just by us.  Nothing too unusual about that as there are still quite a few Common Darters on the wing. This however, was much too big for a Common Darter and it was also too cool for Dragonflies with a strong breeze blowing.  This cool breeze really made it very difficult to keep the insect in view as our eyes were watering and the insect was being blown around a lot.  Fortunately it dropped into the long grass below the levy to show itself as the very rare Vagrant Emperor.  The first of these that I've ever seen and Matt has only ever seen them on the Scilly Isles before.  This was an incredible bit of luck spotting this but it soon took to flight again and we lost it in the breeze,  although Matt did spot it again briefly further North after I had left.

Although the photo is quite possibly my worst Dragonfly photo of the year it was great to get anything of this very rare insect!!

Vagrant Emperor in the long grass.

Friday 25 October 2019


With the insect life now feeling very much end of season it is good that a few more interesting birds are around at the moment as they migrate to their wintering grounds.

Currently there is a beautiful little Grey Phalarope in the flooded Cuckmere valley.  It is really mopping up lots of tiny flies as it builds up its strength to continue on its very long migration.

The weather this week has been appalling, except for Tuesday which was a glorious day.  Unfortunately I had to take Pen up to Guys Hospital on Tuesday so I had to miss the best day for photographing the bird.  Eventually I spotted a slight gap in the bad weather yesterday so a quick dash down there at least gave me the opportunity to see the bird and get a few shots, although by the time it had come close to me the heavy clouds had built back up!!

Grey Phalarope.

A few weeks ago now I was with Matt when news came in from one of his friends that they had found a juvenile Dotterel on one of the highest parts of the South Downs National Park.

As it was already quite late in the day we decided to rush to try and re-locate the bird. Once we had parked it was then a long hard climb up a very steep hill.

After a short search I spotted the bird in a stubble field, and fortunately the bird performed quite nicely for us.

Once again the bird was migrating South.  This one however didn't stay and the following day could not be found.

Juvenile Dotterel.

Thursday 17 October 2019

LTB Brings up the 50.

Back in August signs were looking really good for a Long-tailed Blue bonanza with several sightings of the butterflies and many eggs being found.

On one small clump of Broad-leaved Everlasting Pea there were 15 eggs and nearby were many more eggs.

Unfortunately the weather has been very poor now for many weeks and it is now looking less likely that there will be big numbers of these special butterflies. Having said that, I am still hoping for a few more chances to see some if and when the weather improves.

Two Long-tailed Blue eggs.

I was certainly not too concerned about not seeing any of the early arrivals as I was confident of seeing many fresh individuals near the end of September.

Fortunately James rang me from a site near the foot of the Downs to say he had found some, and although I couldn't get there that day, the following day I did manage to see them. 
On arrival at the site he rang me to say he had some flying near him but in the meantime I spotted some in an area that was more accessible. We then had a couple of hours watching around 10 individuals which varied quite a bit in their condition.

This species brought up my 50th species for Britain this year.

We also had a couple of Clouded Yellow flying nearby which were good to see as this species has not been too numerous this year.

Male Long-tailed Blues.

Clouded Yellow.

Although these shots were a long way from being my best of these it was great to at least see them this year and my thanks goes to James for the call.

Friday 11 October 2019

Late Summer.

With the recent weather taking its toll on insect life I was just going through a few photos that I hadn't got round to posting for various reasons. 

These are generally all local, including a couple of garden bits, however, the first part is from one of my two trips to see the Grayling this year.  Neither visit really gave me the opportunity I was after as far as photographing the butterfly was concerned, but of course the first visit did give me one of my rarest butterfly finds, that being the Chalkhill Blue gynandromorph butterfly that I found on my first of the 2 visits.  For those that missed that post the link to get there is 

As far as the Grayling went my few opportunities for photography only produced a couple of shots worth posting.

Male Grayling.

On a walk with Nigel I was pleased to spot a male Oak Eggar in the vegetation near a waterway. Although it was damaged it did give me the chance to photograph this large day flying moth.  The feathered antenna was particularly interesting.

Male Oak Eggar.

In the garden there have been good numbers of both Painted Lady and Red Admiral feeding on the buddleia.  Although most have been slightly worn a couple of Red Admiral were particularly handsome.

Red Admiral.

I have done very little moth trapping this year with the continued problems of family life, but on the few occasions there have still been a few nice catches. This included one night when 20 Jersey Tiger appeared in and around the trap!!

12 of the 20 Jersey Tiger caught on one night.

Female Four-spotted Footman.

Poplar Hawk-moth.

Thursday 3 October 2019

Garden Blackcaps.

Most years we get the odd Blackcap in the garden, particularly in the Autumn as well as occasionally over-wintering individuals.

At the moment we have at least 6, and almost certainly more than that coming into the garden to feed on the large seed-heads of on one of the strange trees we have.

The birds fly over from the nearby Hawthorn bush line and generally land in a small Beech before moving onto the seed-head to feed. Both males and females are coming in, although with one of the heads already nearly stripped of seeds it won't take them too long before all the seeds have been stripped.  Even more so as some local Starling have also now found the seeds to their liking!!

A couple of days ago, in pretty poor weather I decided to see if I could capture any images of the Blackcaps as they landed in the small Beech.  I used my portable camouflage bag hide by covering myself and the gear in it, looking an even bigger idiot than usual.  The birds excepted this weird sight straight away however and were coming straight in and totally ignoring me.

Female Blackcap.

Male Blackcap.

Female Blackcap.

Female Blackcap on the seed-head.