Friday 28 June 2013

Death in The Rhododendrons

Bees aren't having a very good year with all the cool weather we've been having and when visiting the rhododendrons in my garden they also have to contend with this master of disguise and ambush.

Victim number one Bombus pascuorum

Victim number two Bombus pratorum.
The ground below this particular rhododendron bush was littered with the empty husks of previous victims.

The assassin is a female Crab Spider (Misumena vatia) a master of disguise who can change colour from white to yellow or green to match the colour of the flowers or leaves she is on. This one has very prominent strips too. These are often much less pronounced or even absent.

Close up showing her eight eyes and large jaws.

Not so clever now, hey?
She stands out like a sore thumb when on the 'wrong' vegetation and would be under considerable danger from foraging birds until she finds another white/pink flower or indeed changes colour which takes around two to three weeks!

Lastly another species of hoverfly. I found this one on Seaton Marshes a week or so ago.

Xanthogramma pedissequum

Saturday 22 June 2013

Sword-leaved Helleborines

I've been wanting to visit a certain site in Hampshire to see the Sword-leaved Helleborines for several years but just haven't got around to it. However, last Sunday we had to go to Winchester to clear out Martha's student flat and seeing as the site is only another twelve miles, I popped over there first. Most years it would have been way too late to see the Sword-leaved Helleborines which usually flower in May but everything is so retarded this year I was just about in time. They were mostly starting to go over and the wet weather hadn't helped either, causing them to go a bit brown in places but they were every bit as spectacular as I was hoping they'd be. I also saw Fly Orchid, Bird's Nest Orchid and White Helleborines in this superb little reserve. I wonder which orchids may be flowering locally when Martha moves into her new flat in a few weeks time?

In places the woodland floor is carpeted with the lovely spikes of this rare orchid.
The plants were more diminutive than I'd imagined but that's probably because all the photos I've seen of them show individual plants close up, like these...

Sword-leaved Helleborine

 Bird's Nest Orchid

Fly Orchid

White Helleborine.

Wednesday 12 June 2013

Caspian Tern - West Bexington

When I heard that the Caspian Tern was still at West Bexington this morning I didn't waste any time in grabbing my second chance. I still don't know why I didn't go yesterday with it being a potential lifer an' all. The weather wasn't looking very promising with patchy fog and constant drizzle on the drive over there. When I arrived I could see what I assumed was the bird fishing over The Mere, It was too distant to get a positive id on though as I was still in the car park. By the time I'd walked closer it had gone. I had to wait almost an hour before it reappeared, the weather was deteriorating, my parking ticket was due to run out and I was on my way back to the car when I spotted it flying towards me along the beach. It did a couple of circuits of The Mere before heading off east along the shore again. Then the rain really set in so I decided to call it a day. The conditions were dreadful for photography but I managed to get a few shots none the less. A superb bird, one I've always really wanted to see. So glad I got a second chance ...and took it, even if it was rather nerve-racking for a while there!

Challenging conditions on West Bexington Beach. 
A couple of birders just visible on the ridge.

Tuesday 11 June 2013

Normal Service Will Resume.....

Sometime. I was hoping to say shortly... yes, shortly. Well hopefully...  I'm afraid going out birding etc and especially blogging about it afterwards have had to be put on the back burner of late. It wasn't until today I realized just how long it is since I wrote anything on here. Quite a bit of upheaval on the home front I'm afraid. Shouldn't last forever though.

I did go over Beer Head to Hooken Beach on  Sunday looking for Small Blues but drew a blank. I almost, very nearly, went for the Caspian Tern at West Bexington today... I didn't. I'm regretting it immensely now :-(

On  Beer Head I saw this new information board. Strange mixture of illustrations on it. I did see the Purple Gromwell which was as lovely as ever but try as I might the Monarch, (yes that's right the Monarch!) eluded me!