Thursday, 28 July 2016

Landscape Enhancement.

For as far back as I can remember; that is from the late 1960's; the heathland landscape at Thursley NNR was dominated by 11 metal pylons carrying thirty three thousand volt overhead power lines plus twice as many wooden electricity poles carrying eleven thousand volts.

From my perspective they never detracted from the wealth of wildlife seen here over many years. The metal structures, all individually numbered, provided perching places for many bird species and sighting records often mentioned the pylon number as an aid to finding a particular bird for local and visiting birders.

The views have now dramatically changed.

After a two year-long £400,000 project funded by a special allowance granted by industry regulator Ofgem, completed last November, involving Natural England, Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and Southern Electric Power Distribution (SEPD) over three kilometres of overhead power lines have now been placed underground, with the intention of restoring and enhancing Surrey’s rare, historic heathland landscape and re-creating a sense of partial wilderness rarely found in South East England.


During my most recent visit I noticed that a sculpture has been erected, paying homage to Pylon 36, and when completed will feature a dragonfly perched on top of the structure. I'll have to wait and see which species they decide on.

Throughout the project I understand that every effort was made to avoid areas used by rare nesting birds such as Woodlark and Dartford Warbler and to protect the Reserve’s varied habitats. Here are just some of the wildlife species I encountered during the past week.

Stonechat.

A male Keeled Skimmer.

A juvenile Green Woodpecker.

Common Lizard.

Common Darter.
 
A male Black Darter.

Other bird species seen included Woodlark, Dartford Warbler, Common Redstart, Goldfinch, Swift, Swallow and Kestrel. Butterfly species recorded were Large White, Brimstone, Red Admiral, Comma, Gatekeeper and Small Copper. The Reserve is well known for the abundance of Odonata and apart from the three images above I also saw Emerald, Blue-tailed together with Small and Large Red Damselflies plus a few other dragonfly species, namely Emperor, Four-spotted Chaser and Ruddy Darter. (Some of these varied species will feature in future posts both here and on my photo blog.)  

A location I will never tire of visiting at any time of the year for its varied wildlife. FAB.

Sunday, 24 July 2016

Black Darters.

Once the temperature increased following a very early morning wander around Thursley Common yesterday I spent a little time hunting down the Black Darters (Sympetrum danae) alongside the boardwalk. 

While plenty were seen unfortunately very few individuals were perched within range of the lens but here are a few reasonable images.

A mature male Black Darter.

A pair in the classic 'mating wheel'
.
 A female Black Darter.

Another mature male with a damaged wing.

An immature male Black Darter.

Just before I decided to leave these delightful small dragons in peace a mature male was located against an uncluttered background.
 
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Saturday, 23 July 2016

Blustery Blues.

On Wednesday morning I paid a visit to the grassland slopes at Denbies Hillside. On arrival at 8 am the sun was shining with a cooling southerly breeze and only a handful of butterflies were spotted as I slowly descended Steers Field. Within half an hour the wind strength increased dramatically and the sun was blotted out with total cloud cover so my hopes of finding some perfectly perched Chalkhill Blues was looking grim. 

I traversed the slope for over an hour and eventually found a couple of individuals sitting out the blustery conditions.

My initial efforts using the 70-300 lens were not very successful so as the subjects were less concerned about my presence than staying upright as they swayed in the wind I reverted to using my handy Powershot S95 to get some reasonable close ups.

As the wind strength occasionally eased I started to see a few specimens briefly in flight and then drop onto the ground to wait out the next series of gusts.

 Chalkhill Blue (male).

Chalkhill Blue (female).

Towards the end of my visit I was eventually able to revert back to using the 70-300 lens to produce this final collage of one female and several males.


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