Tuesday 27 July 2010

It Must Be Autumn

On Colyford Common this morning I saw this...
... it must therefore be Autumn. 
On Black Hole Marsh there were just six Common Sandpipers and a single Dunlin and on Stafford Marsh three Green Sandpipers, so nobody's told the waders yet.

Monday 26 July 2010

Something Worth Blogging About

Some of you may have noticed that I haven't updated my blog for a week now, this has mainly been due to a week of full on hardcore housework, but also in some small part, a lack of anything to say. There have been a few new moths and a couple of interesting insects in the garden but that's about as exiting as it got. Well until yesterday that is, with all the housework done and no work either I was foot loose and fancy free. I decided to go over to the New Forest to look for Bog Orchid. I popped over to Bun's first and looked through the moth catch and then we set of for Hampshire at about 5.30. Why so early for a plant? You may be thinking (Steve). Well, it was simply to get to the New Forest and out again before the hoards of holidaymakers surfaced and the traffic built up. I had been given directions to a site for the Bog Orchids and we saw one within a couple of minutes of leaving the car, which was nice! If they were ( a lot) bigger we'd have been able to see them from the car! I didn't manage to get them on my blog yesterday though because I couldn't get a 'look in' on the computer. Martha has discovered that amazingly people are (via a certain auction site) prepared to part with actual money to get their hands on items of her discarded useless tat. Or quality collectibles if you prefer, I don't. Anyway I've got on it first this evening and so can delight you with photos of small green plants. If any of you don't like plants ( unthinkable though that is) keep reading on as there's a brilliant butterfly still to come.
This stick was marking one of the orchids, which is the teeny yellow thing about halfway between the stick and the left edge of the photo. To give a idea of scale the stick was about 30cm tall.
The diminutive and rather plain, but none the less lovely Bog Orchid.
The flowers show the typical orchid structure when seen up close.
I was also thrilled to see  loads of Sundews
I know they are pretty common in bogs but I don't spend a lot of time in bogs!!
I don't think I'd seen a Sundew for about 26 years!

Today I popped over the border to a site in Somerset to see something even nicer than a Bog Orchid ( if you can imagine such a thing). That something was a butterfly, the White Letter Hairstreak which would be a new butterfly species for me. The site I visited was simply superb and in the sweltering sun I counted no less than eighteen species of butterfly! I saw three different individuals of WLH each of which I was able to photograph, they were all looking a bit 'battered around the corners' and past their prime but I'm not complaining, I know how they feel!
Although this third one had lost a big piece from the forewing it had a full compliment of 'tails'.
In case you don't know why it's called the White Letter Hairstreak, it's due to the white line on the hindwing resembling the letter W. 

I mentioned at the start of this post that there have been a few new moths this week, these were Small Rivulet, Tawny-barred Angle ( both too worn to warrant a photo) and Yellow Shell.
Yellow Shell
I also photographed a few more micros
Meal Moth
This moth is usually only found in and around buildings where grain is stored. Goes to show how much bird food Bun has stashed around the place!
Agapeta zoegana
Aethes rubigana

Finally, just a couple of miscellaneous photos from this week. Firstly, while I was slaving away in front of the kitchen sink I noticed something peeking over the top of the garden fence in front of the window, it was this splendid set of antennae, I knew who they belonged to.

And these two photos from Bun's garden. They aren't the clearest photos because I had to take them through glass.
Feathers maketh the Robin, No?
Anyone fancy a stroke?

Monday 19 July 2010

White-tailed Lapwing....At Last!

Last weekend when I dipped the White-tailed Lapwing at Slimbridge I thought that was it, I'd never see it....unless... if by some miracle it stayed at Dungeness until Sunday, because on Sunday my beloved children and one of their friends were going to the London Film and Comic Con at Earls Court. Rob and I were going to drive them as far as Hounslow from where they would take the tube the rest of the way. We hadn't  yet planned on going anywhere for the eight hours or so that they would be at the convention, so (if the bird was still there) Dungeness it was. Once I'd received the news from Bun that the bird was still present on the ARC Pit we continued on to Dungeness, only another couple of hours driving. Rob was thrilled! I had read on Birdforum that over the last couple of days the bird had been distant, I wasn't put off by this though. I wouldn't have cared if it was so distant I needed the Hubble Space Telescope to see it!! As it happens it wasn't distant at all, just further away than it had been and subsequently a 'bit distant' for photographs. It showed well at times but was often lost in the thick vegetation. Not looking directly into the sun would have helped too but I can't complain with the views I got. A superb bird, well worth the effort in the end. We spent around an hour and a half on Denge Marsh Road but weren't lucky enough to see the Purple Heron. We did see the Great White Egret, several times and enjoyed watching a female Marsh Harrier hunting over the marsh for some time. I suppose we should have given it a bit longer but left early to be back at Hounslow in plenty of time to pick up the kids.
Rob Woolley: An extremely rare sight on my blog (can usually be seen out at sea somewhere).
Rob is rubbish at twitching and thinks that after driving for five hours there will ample time for a 
coffee and cigarette before we look for the bird. Wrong! I left him to it and hotfooted it down the track to the ARC pit pronto.
( If you are a fervent environmentalist and have spotted that our Land Rover is the Petrol V8 version, well fear not, it has been converted to run on LPG, thank goodness!) 
The 'most beautiful' ARC Pit.
Another scenic shot.
 The ARC Pit is over the bank to the right. In the extreme distance you can see the assembled birders.
My two 'better' efforts. 
The Art Deco Hounslow West tube station, the nicest thing I spotted in Hounslow.
The Hounslow West tube station carpark. Thrilling eh?
We spent over two hours here waiting for the return of the 'young adults'. The plane in the background was a constant feature. I donned my best anorak and timed their arrival, they came in at one every 90 seconds! 

Bun had the moth trap running last night and it caught another two new moths for the garden, those being
Scarce Silver Lines. Very nice too!
Devonshire Wainscot. A scarce local speciality moth.
There were also a couple of these beasts, not new but I can't get enough of the Four-spotted Footman.
I love those electric blue legs!

Next,  just to show I'm open to requests, a couple more micros especially for Dean ;-)
Garden Pebble
Garden Grass Veneer: Chrysoteuchia culmella 

This afternoon I went to Trinity Hill Woods to see if I could see any Silver-washed Fritillaries, there were at least two males on the wing along with lots of Ringlets, and Small Skippers. 

A few other Invertebrates
Strangalia maculata
Oedemera nobilis
Volucella pellucens
Drone Fly: Eristalis tenax 

Wednesday 14 July 2010

Playing Possum

The moth trap was operational on Monday night ( although it doesn't work entirely alone you know and I sometimes feel a bit guilty that Bun has to do all the early morning switching off duty while I remain tucked up in bed at home). One new species for the garden was caught, that being Cypress Carpet,  a fairly recent coloniser of Britain. Also in the catch were another Marbled White Spot and Brown-tail, both of which were caught the previous night too but I managed to lose them! The Brown-tail that was 'on the run' somewhere in my kitchen turned up on the same morning so I was able to photograph them both. This time instead of flying off and hiding they 'played possum' that is, they pretended to be dead. From what I've read about the Brown-tail (and its larvae) on the old  internet (apparently, for instance, several London Boroughs can order you to destroy any you find) a lot of people would be very happy indeed if they were, what with their evil hairy caterpillars shedding their poisonous hairs hither and thither. Be afraid! Today southern England tomorrow the world! Muwah-ha-ha-ha-ha-ah-aha-a-a-aaaaaaa!!!
Look we're dead......
.........I'm definitely dead....
Only kidding! 
Even at 4fps my camera couldn't get an unblurred flight shot.
I took this photo to show the spectacular set of antennae that this moth has. I mean, just look at them! (and NOT at my embarrassingly filthy window!)
Marbled White Spot
Cypress Carpet
I don't usually bother much with micos but this one took my fancy. I think it's Dioryctria sylvestrella or possibly Dioryctria abietella. Anyone know their micros?

Monday 12 July 2010

Just a Few New Moths

The moth trap has been deployed on a couple of occasions this last week and six 'new for the garden' moths caught, those being, Marbled White Spot, Brown-tail (neither of these two photographed because they escaped, the Brown-tail is at large somewhere in my kitchen though so I might be able to re-catch it later when it gets dark), Scallop Shell, Barred Red, Large Emerald and Cream-bordered Green Pea ( a nice scarce species for a change).
Scallop Shell
Barred Red
Large Emerald
Cream-bordered Green Pea.
A very small moth only about a centimetre long. Its quite nice close up....

Sunday 11 July 2010

And Bird Number 300 is....

River Warbler!! Went back to Norfolk for the Saturday morning viewing and this time success! I got my wish of actually seeing the bird singing too. Brilliant! I only went back because Phil was driving this time, Joe and Bun also came along. You can read about it here ( without copious amounts of whinging for once) coz I'm still a little bit dazed and finding writing a chore. We were hoping to fit the White-tailed Plover at Slimbridge in on the way home but time constraints and the absolutely awful traffic situation meant we never made it. Bun kindly agreed to go up there with me for it today ( he'd seen it before at Seaforth) but it had done a bunk, all the way to Dungeness in fact, just about as far away it could be and still be in England! ****** pants!!*  I could go on about how Slimbridge was a nice day out and worth the money but to be honest the best thing about it was the bacon roll! I'm sure it would be just lovely with about 99% less people there.

I took a few digiscoped shots of the River Warbler singing, mainly because Phil said I'd never get a photo with it in the bush like it was, and I love a challenge! Perhaps he actually said I'd never get a decent photo? In which case he'd be right.
Can you tell what it is yet?
How about now? 
Well you can see the part where the song's coming from.

I took some video too. Really shonky. The bird is right on the right hand side. You will have to turn the sound right up to hear the song due to all the noisy twitchers but the best thing is you can see the whole bird vibrating with the effort of his singing. 

*     Insert any  'sentence enhancer'  of your choice that you'd never hear a person as genteel and cultured as myself utter.