Friday, 24 July 2009

Magical Fluttering Moments

As my regular readers will already know the "Early Birder" is partial to a stroll before going to work. Well this week was no exception, so on Thursday morning with approx one hour at my disposal I stopped off at Bookham Common. Weather conditions were not brilliant with a heavy overcast sky and a strong breeze. I headed uphill into Hill House Wood (deciduous woodland dominated by old Oaks) initially in total silence until I heard the croaking 'kah-ahrk' calls of two Grey Herons sailing high over the tree canopy probably on their way back to the heronry. Next a Blackbird scuttled under cover as it heard my footsteps and a Wren uttered it's explosive call from deep in cover nearby. At the top of the hill I headed towards one of the many open glades and heard the sharp 'kick-kick' call of a Great Spotted Woodpecker and then the very forceful and repeated 'chuitt - chuitt' sound of a Nuthatch high above me. As I approached the edge of the clearing two female Blackcaps were searching for an early snack but quickly disappeared deep into the wood. Young Blue Tits and Great Tits were also feeding within the foliage and I caught a brief glimpse of a Goldcrest as it darted from branch to branch.

As I entered the glade a fluttering shape caught my eye; I watched patiently and eventually it perched close to the path; a female Silver-washed Fritillary. Over the next ten minutes or so several more females appeared and I wasn't sure where to look next!
Moments later I spotted a much brighter individual....a male at last would be be captured by the camera. Time seemed to stand still as even more males glided down from the treetops all around the clearing.
[This spectacular fritillary is generally quite common in large broadleaved woodlands in southern England. A single brood flies from mid June until early September with peak numbers at the end of July. The males have four bold sex brands along the veins of the forewing. Eggs are laid singly in a crevice on the trunk of an oak, usually one to two metres up. The caterpillar feeds on Common Dog-violets and the chrysalis resembles a withered leaf.]
My attention was then distracted by the unmistakable 'mewing' calls of Common Buzzard. A few moments later a pair appeared over the clearing, wheeling around above me and I just managed a few quick shots before they disappeared just as quickly as they had arrived.
[ Please click to enlarge any pic]
The next flutters to appear were a White Admiral and .......
then a Comma.
Checking my watch I realised that I had been enthralled by these 'flutters' for over 30 minutes and it was time to head back to the car. (If only I didn't have to go to work!)
The quietness was disrupted by the 'yaffle' of a Green Woodpecker as it's torpedo shape crossed the clearing. My return walk was interrupted again by the sight of two more 'flutters' - first a Gatekeeper perched on a nettle ........
and then a Large Skipper posed for it's portrait.
Well I could never have guessed what this morning walk would turn up but it is 'magical moments' like this that make my heart sing.


  1. Now that is a wonderful start to your day. Mine started off with having to crawl under my desk at work to see why my computer wouldn't start. Nary a flutter or song to be had. :-(

  2. The Comma is a gorgeous butterfly. His wing shape is so unique. You saw a lot of birds and butterflies in a short time. Must have been fun!

  3. Now that's the way to go to work Frank. Great time by the sounds of it and some lovely subjects.

    Really like the picture of the Large Skipper!

  4. Lovely Images Frank.
    Top notch.

  5. That was magical Frank. The SW Fritillary in particular (I have only ever seen one) and that was a pretty good Buzzard as well.

  6. Lovely pictures Frank. I found a White Admiral this year at Martin Downs nature reserve. We knew they were there and we were very lucky to spot one straight away.

  7. I too, love the Comma photo. You took so many wonderful shots! Nice way to start a working day.

  8. You are certainly right about magical moments. Thanks for sharing your wonderful photos.
    Sunny :)

  9. Nice bit of ''wildlifing'' early birder. I know what you mean about work getting in the way!

  10. Love this post, but as everybody knows I am partial to ALL butterflies.

  11. Hi "Early Birders", I'm pleased you enjoyed the 'flutters'.

    Wilma. I trust your computer is now singing & dancing to the right tunes!

    Kelly. It was so good that I went back again today for a 2nd helping.

    Tricia. Thanks, I'm getting the taste for capturing the 'flutters' but finding it difficult without a macro lens.

    Phil & Mandy and JR & Sue. Thanks guys.

    Roy. The SW Frits were everywhere again today. The Buzzards took me by surprise so not quite as sharp as I would have liked - should have compensated for the bright sky!

    Lynmiranda. Good for you. All the ones I've seen have been pretty tatty.

    Mona. Cheers, the shaggy look is quite unique.

    Sunny. Welcome & thanks for joining the "Early Birders". I'll drop by as soon as I find some time to check out your blog.

    Warren. I may have more time on my hands if the 'powers that be' get their way in the weeks to come!

    Leedra. Thanks but we can't compete with your extensive list of colouful species that you have.

    Have a great week everyone. FAB

  12. An excellent start to any day Frank. A real shame work gets in the way of the important things in life.
    The Silver-washed Fritillary is a butterfly I've never seen, and unlikeley to around here. He looks a beauty.
    It's been a good year so far for butterflies in general hasn't it.
    Good capture of the Buzzard. I love watching them soar overhead.

  13. What a lovely start to the morning. Great shots of all your flutters.

  14. Morning Frank...I don't know how I missed your post on Friday but I'm in bed now drinking hot coffee before my first hiking trip today. What a fabulous way to start your day before work and you got some great shots. I enjoyed your story it made my day. Have a Happy Sunday Frank :)


  15. Frank,

    All great shots enjoyed this post especially with all the butterflies.

  16. Egads... and you saw all of this in a span of less than an hour!
    Amazing. These are things that would take me days to find.
    You live in a beautiful area.
    I have enjoyed the butterflies immensely!

  17. Keith & Midmarsh John. Yes a good year for 'flutters' & hopefully some more interesting sightings to come.

    Crista. Cheers & have a great 'hiking' week.

    Randy. Thanks for dropping by.

    Michele. It's all about location, location AND a lot of luck. Many of the birds were only heard!

  18. What a delightful walk that was!!! You see more in your hour morning walk before work than I do all day when I'm out and about!! Just love all the pics of the butterflies..such beautiful colors and really neat patterns..and of course your photos are extremely nice!!
    I wish you didn't have to go to work either.

  19. What a wonderful stroll with you Frank! I loved hearing and seeing each and every moment! The only thing I would have done differently is forget to look at my watch! I either would have been late for work or in my case burnt dinner!!! Thanks for taking us!

  20. Tina. I'm pleased you enjoyed the walk with me. Yeh, work just gets in the way of doing everything I really want to do to.

    Eve. The only reason I looked at my watch was to get my bearings using the sun etc. (an old navigation method). For once I didn't get a strange look when I eventually got home somewhat late for lunch!


I hope you enjoyed your visit and I always appreciate your comments and feedback.


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