Friday 28 August 2020

Hedgehog Summer.


When we moved to our current house back in 2006 we often saw Hedgehogs in the garden, but then they seemed to vanish until a couple of years ago when the animals often nicked the cat food left out for Danny. Not that we minded at all as it was great to see them again in the garden.

This year in particular seems to have been good throughout the Summer with many sightings after dark, this included one sighting earlier in the Summer when there were 3 Hedgehogs together which I assume were 2 females and a male, with the male following one of the females closely whilst making grunting noises. After this it was hoping that we would eventually have the pitter-patter of tiny feet.

A couple of weeks ago I had a call from my neighbour as his dog was clawing and making a fuss at his decking and on checking that nothing was dead underneath he had opened up the decking to find a female Hedgehog and 3 Hoglets. The babies were actually suckling when he exposed them so he quickly covered them back up.  

He then called me again the following day as the mother and one Hoglet was wandering around his garden mid morning. I nipped round and managed a few shots before the Mother had gone to the far side of the garden and the baby had gone back under the decking.

A few hours later the mother was seen carrying one of the babies away from his garden, across to my garden and probably to the decking in my other neighbours garden.

Wonderful to see these little gems and hopefully they will be successfully reared and one hopes the ticks attached to the Hoglet will not cause too many problems for it.

Hoglet with Mum.

Keeping close to Mum. 

Exploring Hoglet.

Hoglet looking 'Diddy'.  

Tuesday 25 August 2020

Arlington Morning.

 Yesterday I decided to have a quick look around Arlington Reservoir to see what butterflies are using the areas of Fleabane at the moment.

With a bit of a breeze blowing I did think it would probably be a total waste of time but there was just enough to keep the interest going with several very smart Small Coppers as well as two Clouded Yellows.  Of course of the two Clouded Yellows only one settled for a picture and it was the old tatty one and not the much fresher one!!

There was a similar story with a Brown Hawker, with a worn, and bent female Brown Hawker settling but all the better ones stayed on the wing.

Fortunately, the Small Copper that settled was a lovely individual.

Clouded Yellow with a story or two to tell.

Female Brown Hawker.

Small Copper.

I then wandered a little around the reservoir and noticed a very large bird flying low over the water. I quickly realised it was an Osprey that was just homing in on a fish. A few quick grab shots was all I managed, and they were pretty poor photos, but a record all the same.

Osprey homing in.

Splash Down.

Osprey complete with Bream.

Sunday 23 August 2020

Clearwing Season Finishes With a Raspberry!!

 Out of the 15 Clearwing species in Britain I managed to catch up with 8 this year with a few new species for me.

There were a few that I should have got but failed on, but without the lockdown I probably would have got a couple more, buy hey, 2021 isn't that far off.

I was also more than surprised to attract a couple of species to the garden with a Lunar Hornet and several Raspberry coming to a pheromone lure and in the nearby meadow lots of Six Belted.

A few of my favourite images from the 2nd half of the season follow. I would like to thank Derek Barber too who helped me see several species and also the use of Bob Edgar's garden that started me off again on the final species, the Raspberry, with a few in his garden before catching them in my own and then Clare's.

Yellow-legged Clearwing.

Red-tipped Clearwing.

Sallow Clearwing.

Six-belted Clearwing.

Lunar Hornet Clearwing.

Raspberry Clearwing.

Raspberry Clearwing.

Monday 17 August 2020

Silver-spotted Skipper.


Each year I look forward to the flight season of the Silver-spotted Skipper, and for the 2nd year running it started on July 13th.  

These great little butterflies are a challenge as they fly at top speed across the downland like little exocet missiles making it very hard to see where they land.

The challenge each year is to photograph one on a flower head rather than on the ground, and most years I do find one slow enough to catch.

They particularly like Small Scabious which is a plant that grows in some profusion in the local area.

Just after photographing the Skipper I also found a Dusky Sallow that was resting away the day on one of these plants. Gorgeous moths that are often found on flower-heads.

Another find was a pair of Essex Skippers mating. The male was looking a little long in the tooth but he obviously still had it in him to seduce a female. (Hope for me yet perhaps)!!!!
The black tips to the antennae were very evident showing that these were Essex, rather than Small Skippers.

Silver-spotted Skipper on Small Scabious.

Dusky Sallow.

Mating Essex Skippers.

Tuesday 11 August 2020

Grayling and a special ab.

 With only one colony still surviving in Sussex I try to get to see them at least once each year. This year I managed 2 visits to the steep sided valley where they fly throughout much of July and August.

The first visit around 10 Grayling were seen along with thousands of the rare Mecyna flavalis micro moths and Chalkhill Blue butterflies. The second visit produced less Grayling although the ones I did see performed better for the camera and I was also treated to finding a Small Copper aberrant schmidtii which is a much sought after rare form and was also the first one I have seen. It certainly made the long walk in tough terrain worth it. It is also the second year that I have found a rare form of a butterfly in the valley whilst hunting out Grayling as last year I found and photographed a Chalkhill Blue bilateral gynandromorph.

The Small Copper unfortunately was continuously disturbed by all the Chalkhill Blues so I could only manage some record shots, but it was still a very impressive butterfly. After just a couple of minutes watching it, it flew over my shoulder and totally vanished, and despite searching for another 20-30 minutes I never did re-locate it.


Mecyna flavalis.

Small Copper ab. schmidtii. 

My second visit was preceded by my twice a year survey in Friston Forest where I was pleased to see plenty of Wall Brown in and around the forest. It was also good to see that the Scarlet Tigers in the forest have spread further with a small colony of 5 or 6 seen.

Wall Brown. 

Scarlet Tiger.  

Friday 7 August 2020

Purple Haze.

 I certainly wouldn't say I had a great Summer with our 'Purple' butterflies, but as ever they do give a bit of a challenge.

As it turned out I only tried for the Purple Hairstreak on a few occasions, and although I probably saw more this year at the lower levels unfortunately none of them posed particularly well for the camera.

Male Purple Hairstreak.

Female Purple Hairstreak.

Purple Hairstreak under-side.

As far as the other 'Purple' species goes, the Purple Emperor, I didn't even try for it this year with the travel restrictions, However, I did still see a couple totally out of the blue, or perhaps Purple!!

I was doing my butterfly survey in a private wood when I suddenly had a female Purple flying in front of me. A total surprise as this woodland hasn't seen Purple Emperor since the 1930s, a sure sign that this butterfly is spreading back to its old historical haunts.  The following week on another survey another female was also seen and well away from the previous weeks specimen.

Female Purple Emperor.

The 2nd Female Purple Emperor.

Other selected species from my woodland trips follow, which includes only my 2nd ever White Admiral ab. obliterae which is missing the white bands on the upper wings. Unfortunately only a grab record shot was achieved with this superb butterfly.

Male Broad-bodied Chaser.

White Admiral.

Ringlet aberrant form sexoculus.  


White Admiral aberrant form obliterae.