Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Little Egyptians.

The British population of Egyptian Geese (Alopochen aegyptiaca) dates back to introductions into wildfowl collections from Africa in the 18th century.

This species was formally added to the British list in 1971 and my first sightings were during trips to Norfolk in the mid 70's where there was a healthy feral population. Over the years other populations have formed and it is now a species that I regularly encounter in Surrey, particularly during visits to many of the local parks with rivers or lakes. The adults are identical in plumage although the males on average are slightly larger. Both sexes are aggressively territorial, particularly towards their own species, during the breeding season.

During a recent walk around Bushy Park we came across this circular huddle of brown and off-white goslings being watched over by their very attentive parents. 

Even when they woke up and entered the water the parents made sure they didn't stray too far.

Back on dry land it was time for a stretch and some preening ......

.... before topping up their tummies.

Then they gathered together once more into a huddle with their parents back on sentry duty.  FAB.


Monday, 10 September 2012

Results of the Big Butterfly Count 2012.

I have just received an e-mail from the Butterfly Conservation with the results of the Big Butterfly Count which took place in the UK between the 14 July and 5 August. Bearing in mind what most wildlife watchers have observed this year I was not at all surprised to learn that 15 out of the 21 target species showed a year on year decline plus 11 species declined by more than a third compared to the 2011 counts all no doubt due to the impact of our wettest summer for over 100 years.

The Meadow Brown (Maniola jurtina) took the top spot with the numbers recorded rising by 186%. Other single-brooded grassland species whose caterpillars probably benefited from the lush growth of their food plants and slightly better weather conditions during their later flight periods were the Ringlet and Marbled White.
 Ringlet (Aphantopus hyperantus).

Two other brown butterflies, the Gatekeeper and Speckled Wood, whose caterpillars also feed on grasses but frequent hedgerows and woodland habitats unfortunately did not fare so well.
Gatekeeper (Pyronia tithonus).

Speckled Wood (Pararge aegeria). Numbers decreased by 65%.

Another loser was the Brimstone (Gonepteryx rhamni) with counts down by 53%.

Counts for the Red Admiral (Vanessa atlanta) were down 72% but in the past few days I have seen plenty of this colourful species on the wing.

One of the few successes was the Six-spot Burnet (Zygaena filipendulae). This day flying grassland moth came in in 6th place and did well for the second year in succession.

 So who knows what the situation will be next year ... I guess it will all depend on the weather.   FAB.

Friday, 7 September 2012

Red Deer in Bushy Park.

A very recent walk around the ponds in Bushy Park produced some encounters with a few of the resident Red Deer. These two quietly trotted along the side of the pond and came quite close to where we were sitting.

A little while later we spotted one of the mature males feeding in the shade of a tree ...... he eventually walked out into the sunshine and allowed me to get reasonably close!

Totally unfazed by the presence of the many visitors he eventually wandered off to lie down and disappeared amongst the high ferns.   FAB.

Thursday, 6 September 2012

Many Happy Years Together.

On Tuesday it was Mum and Dad's 64th Wedding Anniversary so Anita and I made the 120 mile round trip to take my Mum to visit Dad in hospital. On the way we stopped so that Mum could purchase something special for their afternoon tea  .... delicious cup cakes ...  plus she had squirrelled away some candles just for the occasion.

As it was a sunny afternoon we wheeled Dad down to the cafe and spent a glorious couple of hours in the garden chatting and reminiscing about their many years together .... it was great to see them both in such good spirits after all they have endured recently.

Dad is now having daily trips to what he calls the 'torture chamber' ... the hospital gymnasium where the physios put him through various exercises to build up his core and arm strength. Although in his words it is very demanding and knackering (for an 88 year old!) he is determined to do his best. Tomorrow he is being transported to the Douglas Bader Centre at Roehampton for an assessment regarding possible further rehabilitation so we are all keeping our fingers crossed that all goes well for him.  FAB.


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