Friday, 29 July 2011

Some Summer Sights.


Silver-washed Fritillary
My father has been housebound since his release from hospital as it is now very difficult for him to walk so tomorrow we are taking Mum and Dad out for a drive somewhere and hoping for some decent weather. If we can get his new wheelchair into the boot of my car then I'll definitely get some exercise providing I can find somewhere reasonably level.

Wherever you are ... have a great wildlife watching weekend.   FAB.

Fallows in Velvet.

After spending an hour or two wandering the tracks in Richmond Park and not finding much of interest to photograph my luck eventually changed just a hundred yards from the car park with a small group of around ten Fallow Deer bucks quietly feeding within feet of a very busy footpath. So I decided to sit down, rest my back against a fence and snap away at low level with the 70-300 lens.... so here are some of the results.

 There was quite a mixture of ages ... check the different sizes of the antler growths.

 There was also one very dark individual amongst the group.

At one stage a couple came so close ... they could have chewed my feet! At times like this I wish I had a second camera with the shorter lens attached rather that wonder about switching lenses mid session .. which I didn't as I'm sure I would have missed some of these shots.

In about a months time they will start to shed the velvet and expose the hardened antlers in time for the autumn rut when most of the bucks will disperse and begin their territorial battles.

At the moment these guys are happy and contented in each others company .... but it won't last. Hopefully I'll get a chance to return to monitor the next stage.    FAB.

I am linking this post to Camera Critters and Behind The Camera.

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Alongside the River Mole.

Yesterday I took a very leisurely midday stroll alongside the River Mole on the outskirts of Leatherhead and eventually found a spot overlooking the water and fields to sit and soak up the peace and quiet.
A Grey Heron flew out across the meadow and a pair of Common Buzzards playfully flew overhead but too distant for a shot. On two separate occasions I heard the distinctive short sharp whistle call of a Kingfisher and then a blur of dazzling blue flashed by. I have seen Kingfishers along the R.Mole many times but never close enough for a really decent perched shot (they usually fly away while I'm trying to focus!) so I didn't have any expectation that one might stop by ... but you never know. So I sat patiently while other wildlife flitted around me including a Brown Hawker that also failed to rest during its continuous territorial circuits.
 A very tatty White butterfly was taking a sip from the damp pathway.

 A Grasshopper (not hopping for once) kept me close company for a while.

A Gatekeeper rested on the neaby ferns ... soaking up the sunshine.

A Hobby took me totally by surprise as it dashed down river and headed somewhere to hunt for its lunch and then while watching a Moorhen in the shows of the overhanging vegetation on the far side of the river I noticed a blob of colour amongst the branches ..... the Kingfisher was resting briefly in between its sorties.

I crept a little closer and managed a couple of record shots (both cropped) as the Kingfisher watched for any movement in the water before disappearing once again downstream.

When the cows trundled down into the water and disturbed the peace and quiet I knew it was time to head home with just the sounds of Jackdaw, Green and Great Spotted Woodies to keep me company.  FAB.

Sunday, 24 July 2011

The Gatekeeper.

I have been patiently waiting to capture a Gatekeeper (Pyronia tithonus) this year and although I have seen the odd individual flying during the past 14 days or so it was only during my recent riverside wander that I eventually caught up with an obliging specimen.

More often than not the only view we get is when our quarry is perched with wings closed .... so below are images of the two species that can be easily confused.
On the left is the Gatekeeper (two white spots inside the black on the underside of the fore wing) and the Meadow Brown on the right (with just a single white spot). It is worth remembering that there can be a wide variance in the colouring of the under wings, particularly on the Meadow Brown.

Now when I said this individual was obliging that was not totally true ... it only remained in one spot for a moment or two before moving to a different location but at least that provided a slightly different background for each shot using the Canon PowerShot S95.

 I hope to get out and find some other colourful fliers to post in the near future.  FAB.

Friday, 22 July 2011

Guarding the larder.

When you find a good source of food you just have to protect it. A Blackbird stakes his claim to an abundant collection of hawthorn berries and is intent on protecting it from allcomers. 

 Wherever you are ... have a great wildlife watching weekend.  FAB.

Camera Critters

Thursday, 21 July 2011


Another day with overcast skies with a light breeze but feeling slightly muggy. My visit to Epsom Common for a circuit of the two ponds didn't start until just before midday. A few fishermen had staked out their places around the small pond where Canada Geese and one female Mandarin Duck was logged. A Great Spotted Woodpecker called from within the wood otherwise all seemed very, very quiet.

A Grey Heron was standing motionless at the edge of the Stew Pond and while I tried to creep closer without disturbing its concentration my attention was drawn to a shape floating overhead .....

... a quick shot was taken of a Common Tern doing one of several high circuits of the pond.

When I turned back to the Heron I had obviously missed the important part of the fishing action but just managed one shot of dinner being manipulated before being devoured. Shortly after it decided to fly off to another part of the pond. Typically for this time of day the birds were keeping out of sight but I did log Blue Tit, Jay, Carrion Crow, Blackbird, Green Woodpecker and watched a tiny warbler (probably young Garden Warbler) feeding high above in the leafy oak canopy. Another female Mandarin was seen on the main pond but no evidence of any youngsters.

Alongside the pathways I logged various butterflies including Green-veined White, Silver-washed Fritillary, Ringlet, Meadow Brown, Red Admiral, Gatekeeper plus Ringlet and a few are shown below.

Large Skipper.



The recent run of damp weather is obviously helping the growth of fungi.    FAB.

Please check out this link for more of our Winged Friends hosted by NatureFootstep.

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Watery Wednesday.

I didn't see much today ... overcast skies followed by the inevitable drizzle ... so a couple of images from last week.
 Mrs Tufted keeping a very close watch on her new babies.

From memory this is the first time I have seen young Tufties on my local patch ... just hope they stay clear of any predators.   FAB.

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Long-tailed Tits.

With the sky brightening late morning today I was thinking about going out when movement outside the window caught my attention ..... a number of very small bundles with long tails had descended upon one of the feeders .... unusually for me, the camera was not to hand so I had to go upstairs to recover it .... but would these tiny and infrequent visitors to the garden hang around .....

With camera in hand I gently opened the back door and quietly crept out to the edge of the patio while listening to the numerous twittering 'tsee..tsee..tsee' contact calls emanating from various leafy locations around the garden and estimated that around ten Long-tailed Tits (Aegithalos caudatus) had decided to bless me with their presence.

As far as I could determine most of them were juveniles and they constantly flitted from one perch to another as they sought out tiny insects from the foliage in the pittosporum, lilac and hawthorn.

With so much greenery at this time of year they weren't going to make it easy for me to capture their antics but time seemed to stand still as I turned first in one direction and then the other in an attempt to focus on the different individuals.

After feeding they all seemed to spend ages preening their shaggy coats.

To put their diminutive size into perspective they are only 13-15cm in length including their 7-9cm tails. Their normal habitat is both deciduous and mixed woodland with a well developed shrub layer plus farmland and heathland with scattered trees, bushes etc. Unlike many species the young don't leave the parents' territory at the end of the breeding season so it is quite usual to see a mixed flock of adults and their progeny together with unattached blood relatives of the adult male. As the season progresses it is usually just the females that defect to neighbouring flocks.

This young fluffy pair decided to perch high up in the open obviously enjoying the brief period of sunshine.

The youngsters will undergo a complete moult into adult plumage before their first winter and eventually look like their parents (see image above that I took on 1st April 2011) with their distinctive black, white, grey and variable pink colours.   FAB.

Please check out WORLD BIRD WEDNESDAY for more glorious images from around the globe.

White on White.

During my waterside wander last week there were one or two white butterflies flitting through the lush green waterside vegetation  but rarely stopping more than a second or so before moving onwards.
I eventually came across a Green-veined White (Pieris napi) perched in typical pose with wings closed amongst a small patch of bindweed. In the past my attempts to capture any white species have not been particularly successful so I wondered if I might have more luck this time. 

The first three shots were taken using the 450D with the 70-300 lens [hand held] set on aperture priority (f/9 to f/11) and spot metering.

This individual eventually decided to open its wings presumably to soak up what little sunshine was available.

After  moving  around a bit it settled on a leaf, providing a much darker background, so I switched over to the Powershot S95 and grabbed a final shot using the macro setting and managed to get quite close without disturbing the subject. I am slowly getting to grips with the abilities of the S95 and I am very pleased with the most of the results. Now all we need is some sunshine so I can get out and do some more testing.  FAB. 


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