Friday, 25 July 2014

Boots still walking.

Exactly four years ago I published a post entitled 'Boots are made for ....' and reported on the wildlife I encountered on a particular walk so I thought it would be interesting to repeat the walk, which I did today, and review any changes. Well, of course, the boots have changed ... the others wore out some time ago but my shadow is still the same! However the introduction to the original post (see below) is still relevant today.

"These boots are made for walking, and that's just what they'll do".

The repeated lyrics of the well known song by Nancy Sinatra released in 1966, when I was somewhat younger, and subsequently covered by many other artists including Jessica Simpson's own rewritten version. The rest of the original lyrics bear no relationship to my daily life but without boots I wouldn't have got anywhere. As a youngster I explored the local common and woodlands; as a teenager I hill-walked (often with my father in places such as the Brecon Beacons), hiked, rock scrambled and even climbed a bit with a close friend (Snowdonia, North Wales in the depths of a snow and ice filled winter was fun); I cycled a lot (even owned a tandem for a few years which won the heart of one young lady ... for a short time!) and also canoed along various rivers and canals; then car ownership enabled me to explore other parts of the UK testing the boots over mountains,  moorlands, valley floors, clifftops and beaches. In more recent times the boots now usually carry me over less treacherous terrain as I stroll here and there often stopping to watch our native wildlife or to just soak up my surroundings at a much more leisurely pace.

So are you ready boots? Start walkin'! An anti-clockwise circuit of Banks Common (connected to Bookham Common which has featured in numerous posts). The first thing I notice is that the vegetation is a lot thicker and higher than July 2010 as a Great-spotted Woodpecker repeatedly utters its distinctive 'kick .. kick' call and a male Blackcap flies across my path while a Goldfinch converses with its companions beyond my immediate view. The PowerShot SX50 HS focuses on the first of numerous Gatekeepers nectaring on Lesser Burdock. 

As I head towards the bridge a passing dog walker advises me that the path ahead is very overgrown and muddy underfoot .. I'm not deterred, I'm wearing boots! I am however conscious of the ever present danger of being stung by the overhanging large nettles as a tiny insect takes a nip somewhere above my bare ankle. As in the past the hedgerows were full of Bindweed, their white trumpets glowing like light bulbs amongst the dark green foliage where a 2nd brooded Small White Butterfly was resting. Natures colour palette of  greens, blues, purples, yellows and reddish-browns was provided by Teasels, Bittersweet, Tufted Vetch, Agrimony, Tansy, Grasses, Thistles, Ragwort, Honeysuckle and Common Sorrel just to name but a few.

Silver-washed Fritillary where thin on the ground with only two individuals seen during my whole walk. With the relatively high temperature I was glad of the shaded areas throughout my walk but they afforded little in the way of wildlife activity. However as soon as the view opened up that changed dramatically

On the opposite side of the meadow a single Common Buzzard drifted above the tree line constantly issuing its mewing 'piiyay..piiyay' call while Large Skippers, Meadow Browns and Common Damselflies rested nearby. The fence post is still standing but the moss has invaded its crown.

The view over the style hasn't changed but in the opposite direction the hay field has long since been converted into horse paddocks for expensive bloodstock. At this point I heard the calls of both a Chiffchaff and a distant Nuthatch as a number of Blue Tits flitted through the hedgerow. I also noticed that a Dragonfly had landed 15 feet high up on a bare branch but totally inaccessible for a photo. Using my bins I ascertained it was a Common Hawker and then a Ladybird landed and without a 'by your leave' hitched a ride on my arm for a while.

There were one or two fresh Brimstone getting a nectar fix.

Surprisingly I didn't come across any horse riders during this leisurely stroll but I did watch a Kestrel hunting on the far side of the meadow for over 15 minutes, constantly dropping into the long grass and then rising up again to hover while looking for a tasty meal. I think it was eventually sucessful as it flew to its regular tree and didn't reappear. 

During the walk I saw several male Darters frantically chasing one another during their territorial battles and towards the end of my circuit I found one male Ruddy Dater taking a well earned rest.

As I returned to my vehicle the final wildlife colours were provided by a beautiful Peacock showing off its brilliant upper wing patterns and its cryptic under wing camouflage.

In conclusion, a few changes to the landscape, a lack of sightings of any White Admiral butterflies (a typical scenario on most of my recent forays) and certainly fewer birds seen or heard with the notable absence of any colourful Yellowhammers. 

However one thing doesn't change ... on my exit route the traffic on the 'magic roundabout' (M25) was at a standstill but the trains were still running!  



I make no apologies for the length of this post but do hope you will join me again sometime when the boots go walkin'. FAB.

Linking to Saturday's Critters hosted by Eileen.

21 comments:

  1. loved all the butterflies you see. hopefully the birds will return in future years' walks. :)

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  2. oh, a very nice post too Frank; lots of lovely nature items to explore and I'm wondering if your Ruddy Darter is the same as the 'red dragonfly' I encountered when in Central Qld., a couple months back? I'll upload it one day ... Thanks for sharing, boots and all

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  3. No problem on the long post as the photography are all gorgeous. I noticed you called the Ladybird that name which in Canada, we call them Ladybug. They are a sign of good luck when landing on a human. That collage by the way, I love the old fence in the top right hand side. The butterflies are all gorgeous! I do love those.

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  4. Hi Frank That was a a wonderful post and I was with you all the way. You certainly saw a lot on the walk and have recorded it in words most eloquently. You photographs, as usual are fantastic. I hope you have a wonderful weekend.

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  5. A fantastic 'walk' with you Frank.
    So much to see for those of us that take the time to look.
    A rich variety of wildlife.

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  6. Beautiful countryside, Frank. The butterflies are gorgeous- love the colors of the Peacock. Thanks for another scenic walk...the boots were perfect for the occasion. By the way, I remember that song well- the one by Sinatra, that is ;)

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  7. Ahhh!...the days of youth? The boots may have changed a few times Frank but the legs (and feet!) are still going strong!
    It's good that we can (still) get out and enjoy the beauty that nature provides for us...and long may it be that way.
    Excellent post Frank, full to the brim with colour and beauty....[;o)

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  8. Too many fantastic images in this post to name them all. Loved the walk. It's amazing how things change.

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  9. Thanks for posting this lovely post Frank. Great collages.
    Glad you didn't sing though.{:))

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  10. You got some marvelous pictures.


    Eva Jorunn Norway

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  11. What a lovely post and walk! The butterflies and dragonflies are all beautifully captured.. I hope the birds return, it looks like an awesome place to visit. Awesome photos! Thank you for linking up with my critter party. Have a happy weekend!

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  12. How wonderful that you are still enjoying nature even though you've replaced your old boots with newer ones. Super post.

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  13. Do you know Frank, as soon as I saw the heading I remembered that post.....

    Wonderful you did the trip again but with new boots :)
    Sad the yellow hammers were not around.....I have noticed their absence this year :(

    Had to smile at the M25 roundabout and the trains......you would only understand that if you lived in SE UK..........

    Tku for your lovely comment on my blog re Poppi...........so appreciated.

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  14. What a wonderful walk. I love all the beautiful butterflies.

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  15. You can't imagine how much I needed this beautiful nature walk this morning, filled with lush vegetation and lovely butterflies and flowers. What an incredible idea, following the same route and re-documenting a previous walk! Noting the differences. Love it! Your photos were lovely, and I enjoyed this very much!

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  16. Great post and some really fantastic butterflies in there too.

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  17. Great capture and a wonderful place for a walk.

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  18. Oh an excellent post Frank! Thanks for taking us on this walk with you :)

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  19. Just absolutely charming writing and I love how you went back to the same circuit you once walked. Those butterflies, my, my so many and all so glorious. I just do not get to see too many. Happy week Frank~

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  20. That was such fun! I loved going on the walk with you!

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  21. A lovely collection of nature on the wing.

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