Wednesday 29 January 2020

Hare Today.

With very little still happening on the wildlife front I have continued with some longer walks just hoping for something of interest.

I had a call from Matt yesterday to tell me he had re-located an over-wintering Ring Ouzel in the Cuckmere.  As I was not busy I did try for it but apart from hearing it call close by I didn't see it.

Today I walked along the valley and a Brown Hare was seen quite close resting in the vineyard. It wasn't quite close enough really, but as I haven't seen many Hares there this Winter it was a pleasing spot.

Brown Hare.

Before getting to this spot I came across a small flock of at least 10 Corn Bunting, very close to the area where I photographed one a couple of weeks back.  Once again it wasn't quite close enough and the photo is cropped quite a bit.

Corn Bunting.

A few days ago I spotted a Fox that was surrounded by 2 Pheasant and 2 Magpies.  I guess the Magpies were hoping the Fox would get one of the Pheasants and they would then have an easy meal.  Unfortunately I only managed a poor shot of the Fox which by then only had one Magpie by it.

Fox and Magpie.

Hopefully soon the photography opportunities will improve!!

Saturday 18 January 2020

Sunshine at last brings out a Peacock.

The best day of the year so far and it was another long walk.

A quick check on the Wall Brown larvae as I was passing produced 3 of the 5 I have found so far, this despite a very cold frosty morning following a torrential hail storm last night, with many of the hail stones still on the ground.

It was then onto the treatment works behind Littlington where several Chiffchaff were showing along with a very smart Grey Wagtail.  A little further along the track produced a beautiful Firecrest that showed quite well.


It was then a case of the steep hill out of Alfriston to get to the high point of the Downs.  Despite a cool breeze blowing along the top I was very surprised to spot my first butterfly of 2020 in the shape of a Peacock.  I watched it battle away in the breeze for a short while before it dropped to ground for a short rest.  I just managed a single record shot before it was up and away again.


Wednesday 15 January 2020

Winter Blues.

With the weather being totally rubbish for most of the past month or so it has been very difficult to get inspired to get out with the camera.  So much so that when I did look at the camera the other day I realised I had a couple of shots still on there from near the beginning of December that I hadn't even down-loaded!!

These were from a walk I had done with Nigel down Pevensey Levels, and I was actually quite surprised to find that I had a half decent shot of a Mute Swan that flew over me before he had joined me.

Mute Swan.

Since then I have been out walking a bit but often with just the binoculars, as the light was generally poor and also that I just couldn't be bothered to carry the camera and lens most of the time.

On the walks I have seen a few decent things including a Peacock on the 23rd December and at least 5 different Wall Brown larvae.  I have also seen good numbers of Corn Bunting on the South Downs near the house although they have generally been quite flighty.  It seems the farmer has left a strip of set-a-side on the edge of a field and the Corn Buntings are taking advantage of a lot of free food.

Today I did actually take the camera out as after a morning of heavy rain, the sun decided to make a longer appearance this afternoon, and as I approached the area where I had seen the Corn Buntings I could see a large flock some distance away as well as 4 birds much nearer.  I decided to try and get a bit closer to the 4 and was very pleased to get close enough to get a couple of shots of one of them.  This was the only thing I photographed today despite walking around 8 miles!!

Corn Bunting.

Friday 3 January 2020

Late Summer to Winter Highlights 2019.

For the 2nd time in 3 years I saw the first Silver-spotted Skipper in the UK on my patch at the back of Seaford.  This male was spotted probably just after it had emerged on the 13th July.

Male Silver-spotted Skipper.

At the same spot and within minutes of seeing the Skipper I was photographing a Six-belted Clearwing.  I had always wanted to see a Clearwing in the UK and with Clare and Dave we purchased a selection of pheromones for them.  Although we started late in the season we saw 3 different species as well as the Raspberry Clearwing that a friend had turning up in his garden.

Six-belted Clearwing.

Without a doubt my rarest find of the year was a Chalkhill Blue Bilateral gynandromorph whilst I was looking for Grayling on the Downs. This strange butterfly is split straight down the middle with one half being female and the other half male.  This is an extremely rare event and there are normally only 2 or 3 records each year in the UK of this happening.  I only heard of one other in 2019 and that was an Orange-tip.  Unfortunately the butterfly was soon lost to view with so many other Chalkhill Blues flying in the area and I was the only person to have seen it.

Chalkhill Blue Bilateral gynandromorph.

At the beginning of Autumn I came across a larva of a Privet Hawk-moth.  I have been looking for these for some time and the last one I saw was many years ago.  As is often the case I found it when I was not searching for them, as I was actually gardening at the time.

Privet Hawk-moth Larva.

A few days later I was with Matt when he heard about a young Dotterel on the top of the Downs.  A quick drive and climb got us in position to re-find the bird.

Juvenile Dotterel.

The expected Long-tailed Blue explosion unfortunately didn't happen due to the horrendous weather that hit us right when the emergence should have happened.  With around 100 eggs known locally all I managed was a very short session with James and Clare. This was my 50th butterfly species seen in the UK this year. My thanks to James for the heads up on the location where he had found them.

Long-tailed Blue.

My other really rare find was at the end of October when I was with Matt photographing a Snow Bunting.  As we headed back to the car we had a large dragonfly fly up in front of us.  When it settled in the long grass it was the rare Vagrant Emperor, a first for both of us .

Male Vagrant Emperor.

My favourite bird from the Autumn was the Shorelark at Dungeness.  A very confiding bird and a species that I have only seen 3 times before and never photographed successfully.


I was also very pleased with the Firecrest that I photographed from my bedroom window. 


My final photograph from 2019 was from a session with Clare and Pete of the Purple Sandpipers at Newhaven.  As the pier is I believe going to be re-developed this may well be the last time I will be able to get close here so it was good to have several of the birds performing well.

Purple Sandpiper.

All in all 2019 was pretty good for me with a few rare things seen and several reasonable photographs taken despite the year being very challenging on a personal note.

Hopefully 2020 will give me many more opportunities.

My thanks to all of you that take the time to check out what I am up to by looking at the blog.  

A Happy 2020 to you all.