Friday, 30 August 2013

Restless Copper.

During one of my butterfly forays around Bookham Common I searched for one of our smallest flutters which despite its distinctive copper colours often prefers to perch on or close to the ground and is therefore easily missed amongst the grasses. Knowing that the preferred nectar source of the Small Copper (Lycaena phlaeas) is Common Fleabane made my search slightly easier once I located a patch of bright yellow.

The males can be very restless and readily take on anything that enters their territory, including someone with a camera, so it took me a little time to get this one to settle after chasing several Whites away!

This species thrives in hot, sunny conditions and can have 3 to 4 broods in a good year but if the summer months are cool and wet the populations crash and it usually take several years to recover.

Hopefully this summer will be kind to this delightful little copper beauty.  FAB.

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Bookham Butterflies.

Just beyond this old gate on Bookham Common proved to be an ideal spot to watch and snap a few of our colourful butterflies during the past week.

 Common Blue [male] (Polyommatus icarus)

 Common Blue [female - blue form] (Polyommatus icarus)

 Small White (Pieris rapae)

Large White (Pieris brassicae)

 Essex Skipper (Thymelicus lineola)

Silver Y Moth (Autographa gamma)

 Brimstone (Gonepteryx rhamni)

 A very tatty Silver-washed Fritillary (Argynnis paphia)

Peacock (Inachis io)

Gatekeeper (Pyronia tithonus)

Other species seen were Small Copper, Meadow Brown, Ringlet, Small Tortoiseshell, Comma, Speckled Wood, a very out of place Chalkhill Blue with lots of Grasshoppers around my feet. I also enjoyed some of natures bounties, a few sweet and juicy Blackberries. I filled a bag to take home but they didn't last long with a dollop of ice cream ... scrumptious.  FAB.  

Friday, 23 August 2013

Above in the Blue.

A few blue skies this week and when you look up you never know what might be there.

 Eventually it revealed itself ... a Common Darter.

Wishing you a glorious wildlife watching weekend wherever you are.  FAB.

Linking to Skywatch Friday.

Thursday, 22 August 2013

Vanessa cardui.

I have only had one view of a Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui) so far this year. A totally unexpected sighting during our trip to Norfolk. Unfortunately it didn't perch for long so just a few quick shots.

According to my hard drive I appear to be amassing a plethora of unsorted flutter pics from recent wanderings so I'll have to knuckle down in order to up some more species in the near future. FAB.

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

European Goldfinch.

One of my more colourful garden visitors is the [European] Goldfinch (Carduelis carduelis). When I spoke to my mother on the phone yesterday evening she was delighted to report the sighting of a pair with their youngster constantly visiting their feeder so I thought I would share some very recent images of an adult.

This species is often very chatty when they are feeding and even when they are hidden amongst the foliage their presence is given away by their very distinctive disyllabic 'telitt .. telitt' conversational calls.


Sunday, 18 August 2013

Cley Marshes NWT Reserve.

During our recent long weekend on the North Norfolk Coast we made regular visits to Cley Marshes NWT Reserve but often only stopping off at Bishops Hide to scan over Pats Pools before heading elsewhere along the coast. 

More often than not any waders present were always too far away but there was always a few other species that ventured a little closer to the hide.

Avocet constantly feeding, Shelduck parents aggressively chasing off anything that got close to any of their 15 goslings and Coot just showing off.

Throughout our numerous visits over the years it has been unusual for us not to see Marsh Harriers quartering over the extensive reed beds but this activity is often interspersed with long periods when individuals perch atop one of the few trees as they monitor their options for their next foray.

Fortunately our visits coincided with the flight of this majestic species so the opportunity was grabbed to capture a few images as one individual effortlessly glided close to the hide.

(Western) Marsh Harrier (Circus aeruginosus)

These brief forays by the Harriers often result in pushing the various waders into the air and on more than one occasion it was a decent sized flock of Black-tailed Godwits (Limosa limosa) that felt threatened but it didn't take them too long to resettle on the far side of the pool. 
During this frenetic activity I did notice that there was one Godwit feeding alone much closer to the hide and it decided not to take to the sky so my attention turned to it as it's particular colouring suggested that it might just be a different sub species.

What struck me about this particular individual was that its rufous summer plumage extended much further down the breast suggesting that this could be an Icelandic Black-tailed Godwit (Limosa limosa ssp. islandica). Unfortunately it's legs, which should be shorter, were never fully exposed but everything else including the slightly shorter bill length indicated 'islandica'. [I would be interested to here what any of my readers think about its ID].

On one particular day we decided to spend longer at Cley and undertook a leisurely anticlockwise circuit of the whole reserve. 

After leaving Bishops Hide we headed up onto the East Bank towards Arnold's Marsh where a Black-winged Stilt had reportedly been seen but we couldn't find it. However we did get views of  four Spoonbills and a hastily taken shot as three of them they decided to move location. Scanning the marsh did produced Spotted Redshank, Greenshank and Ringed Plover.

Dropping off the bank to get some relief from the stiffening breeze I was totally surprised when I found a Painted Lady and managed a couple of shots before it flew away. (My first sighting this year.)

Climbing up onto the shingle sea defence bank provides a good spot to scan all over the reserve and across the sea but there was little activity apart from a few gulls, Cormorant and the occasional flypast of Sandwich and Common Terns returning from fishing trips with food for their growing youngsters.
Anita, always ready to help carry the gear, has often commented that she would never have thought 40 yeas ago that, as a 'townie', she would ever be interested in birding and wildlife but that's why I admire her so much as we continue to enjoy our life together.

A brief visit to the North Scrape hide didn't produce any more photo opportunities so we strolled on past the beach car park and then along the West Bank, watching flying Little Egrets, before returning to the boardwalk  and back to the Visitor Centre for some much needed refreshments.

Once again a very enjoyable visit to Cley Marshes and I'm sure it won't be our last.  FAB.

Linking to Camera Critters and I'D-Rather-B-Birdin' 

Thursday, 15 August 2013

Banded Demoiselle.

As promised here are some shots of a few of the hundred or so male Banded Demoiselles (Calopteryx splendens) that I saw during a wander along the Wey Navigation towpath last month. [The first image was taken using my Cannon Powershot and the remainder with the 450D and 70-300mm lens ... all handheld].

The weather forecast suggests lots of rain tomorrow so I may have to stay in and sort through all of the recent images for future posts.  FAB.

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Norfolk Weekend Preview.

On 2nd August we headed off to the North Norfolk Coast for an extended long weekend to celebrate our 40th Wedding Anniversary. Our hotel at Kelling had recently been refurbished and provided excellent accommodation, superb meals and was, of course, ideally situated to enable us to do some very relaxed birding nearby at Cley Marshes and a few other locations a bit further along the coast.

I won't bore you with a list of species seen during our four days away but here is is just a taster of some of the birds we enjoyed watching.

 Black-tailed Godwit in its glorious rusty-orange breeding plumage.

 Shelduck family with 15 ducklings.

One of the many highlights at Cley Marshes was watching the Marsh Harriers quartering the reed beds, occasionally putting any waders into the air and often being mobbed by one of the Black-headed Gulls.
 Marsh Harrier.

At Titchwell Marsh one of the older hides enabled us to get closer views of some species, including Northern Lapwing and many of the juvenile Avocets plus distant views of Dunlin, Ruff, Knot, Common Snipe and 3 Spoonbills.
 Northern Lapwing.

 Avocets (Adult keeping a watchful eye on a juvenile feeding).

Juvenile Avocet.

On the day of our Anniversary I booked a place on one of the boat trips from Morston Quay so we could view the Grey and Common Seals out on Blakeney Point with the added bonus of watching Common, Sandwich and Little Terns fishing fairly close to the boat.

Lazy Seals on Blakeney Point.

I will be sharing a few more images from this very enjoyable and relaxing trip in some future posts.  FAB.


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