Monday 28 February 2022

Up For A Hover.

 Most days I get out for a long walk, one of the advantages of being on the edge of the Sussex Downs. This week has seen more butterflies coming out of hibernation, and most of them appear to be Peacocks, although, apart from the Brimstone in my previous post I also have seen my first Small Tortoiseshell of 2022. I have now seen 8 butterflies this year and 6 were Peacock.

The Small Tortoiseshell appeared moments after one of those strange times when I was walking along one of my regular paths when I saw a Sparrowhawk watching me from a post only about 25 feet away. I immediately stopped and cursed the fact that the camera with the telephoto lens was in the rucksack on my back and I was sure that if I attempted to take the bag off to get the camera out the bird would have gone by then, so I did the only thing possible and that was to photograph the Sparrowhawk with the camera around my neck that only had a macro lens on!! Although it was a bit of a crop and the camera settings were for insects at least I had a photo of this odd moment. Moments after taking the shot the bird took off after a small bird and I last saw it crashing into a bush in pursuit. The odd background is the vineyard across the valley.


Small Tortoiseshell.

I have also been busy scrub clearing on my local patch and during the 68 hours I have put in over the Winter I regularly saw a male Kestrel hunting, so as I have now finished my work until next Winter I attempted a short session at the end of a walk to see if I could get any photos. This is a work in progress but I did get a couple of shots in the short time I was there. Hoping for a big improvement on my next attempt.

Male Kestrel Hovering.

Male Kestrel.

Wednesday 23 February 2022


 My first Brimstone of the year today found in the middle of a long walk from home. The walk started in sunshine, but this soon stopped as the clouds increased and a little light rain started in the stiff breeze and any hopes of a butterfly were dashed, or so I thought!!

After stopping to put my coat back on and cursing the fact that I hadn't put a hat on I was walking into the stiff breeze when a Peacock flew past me trying to land in the odd Gorse bush to roost. This was my 3rd Peacock of the year and was probably the least expected due to the weather.

Not long after I stopped for a little lunch at Winchesters Pond and with this the sun came back out again which gave me the encouragement to divert into Friston Forest to a sheltered area where I often see Brimstone in the Summer. It was still quite a long shot, so it was a very pleasant surprise to have a female Brimstone suddenly flying around me. At this point the sun went behind a light cloud and the butterfly settled a couple of time allowing a few photos. 

It feels almost as if Spring is here, although tomorrow it is back to more rain and colder conditions again. I left the butterfly under a Bramble leaf where hopefully it will stay hidden until the next warmer day.

Female Brimstone

Thursday 17 February 2022

The American Robin and a Butterfly!

 Although I'm not a natural twitcher, generally avoiding the larger popular ones, especially in housing estates, I knew I would regret it if I didn't get to see the beautiful American Robin that has set up home in a small Close on the edge of the downland at Eastbourne. Matt was going to collect me on the way there on Tuesday on his way home from Jamaica, but with the weather sounding pretty poor that day, and with Monday looking much better I decided to join David there then. 

We had several sightings of the bird as it visited the Cotoneaster bush in the garden of the finder. However, it didn't stay in a position where we could get photos and after a few hours we decided we had had enough of standing around in the cool breeze and the only photos I took were a record shot showing just the very top of the bird's head and a surprise encounter with a Peacock butterfly that managed to find a warm sunny corner by a garage.

Then, on Thursday, the day between the two storms we decided to have another go. There are so many fabulous photos of the bird taken by the enormous number of birders that I knew I wouldn't get anything as good as, but it was worth having another go. This time we arrived really early hoping to get an early opportunity to get some photos and then escape. In the end it was still well over 4 hours and with around 5 visits from the bird in the Cotoneaster bush it was still a challenge to get a clear shot without a twig from the nearer bushes getting in the way. However, in the end I probably have 4 shots worth hanging on to of this lovely rarity with a little help from Photoshop.

This bird is the first Sussex record of an American Robin and the finder set up a charity page for visiting birders to donate to the Eastbourne food bank. This has also helped the local residents to put up with the inconvenience of all the visiting birders, knowing there is some local good coming from the event.

The American Robin.

The Peacock from Monday. My 2nd butterfly and Peacock of 2022.

Tuesday 8 February 2022

Lobster Battle.

 With very little happening for the camera in recent weeks I thought I would look back at some sessions that I didn't post for some reason last year.

My very good friend David invited me over to Battle to see some of the moths that I never get in my trap, and as I was actually quite close at the time I headed over to see my first ever Lobster Moth.

Another beauty that I haven't caught here in Seaford, but I had seen before when I saw one in Nigel's trap was the Great Prominent. This was probably even more impressive than the Lobster.

Finally, a Pale Tussock in its dark form. I have actually caught this moth in quite large numbers but rarely in the dark form, although strangely, I did get a dark one only a week or so after this visit.

As ever, my thanks to David for letting me see and photograph these beautiful moths.

Lobster Moth.

Great Prominent.

Pale Tussock.

Just to show I have taken the camera out a few times recently, although most days I return home without pressing the shutter!!

A Meadow Pipit that posed briefly and possibly not quite close enough.

Meadow Pipit.