Monday, 29 September 2014

The Patient Stalker.

In my book the Grey Heron has to be one of the most patient stalkers. Often standing in one position for ages with its eyes glued to the watery surface watching and waiting for its prey. This individual had picked a spot where the grasses provided some cover and was facing the sun so that its shadow didn't betray its presence on the water surface in the ditch well below its feet.

Even with a slight breeze blowing the Heron remained motionless, something I could never come to terms with when as a mere youngster I was taken fishing by my Uncle. I just couldn't find the enthusiasm for sitting still while watching and waiting for that colouful float to bob in the water BUT as a wildlife watcher I'm happy to sit for as long as it takes to see this master fisherman at work.

Very occasionally you might notice a slight repositioning of it head as it refocuses its concentration.

It then leans forward indicating that a strike might happen and in a flash the action is all over AND regretfully on this occasion my concentration wavered at the wrong moment!

The Heron was sucessful and after devouring its quarry it turned its back on me and repositioned itself further along the bank to continue its patient vigil.

 I'll just have to try another day in the hope of catching the moment of impact!  FAB.


Saturday, 27 September 2014

Master Spinners.

Every time I walk out into the garden I'm faced with numerous orb webs intricately created by the Garden Spider (Araneus diadematus) to catch any unwary insects and me if I'm not watching where I'm walking!

Individual colouring can vary from extremely light yellow through to very dark grey but they all carry the distinctive markings across their backs with a series of white dots forming a cross or diadem hence the common names of Cross Spider, Diadem Spider and Garden orb-web Spider.

Fascinating to watch as they create their delicate webs (click here for a video link) or rush out of hiding in response to a vibration.

Just hanging from a single thread. [All images taken with the PowerShot SX50 HS.]  FAB.

Linking to Saturday's Critters.    

For something quite different, check out this post on FABirding. 

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

More Coppers than Blues.

My patch walk today at Epsom Common was fairly quiet bird wise. Two Grey Herons on the Great Pond; one hiding in the margins and one (above) slowly wandering out into the open water.

Also logged the usual Mallard and Moorhen. At least four juvenile Chiffchaff were seen flitting through the waterside willows gleaning insects plus Robin and Blue Tit in the woods. Out on the grassland I saw the usual corvids; Carrion Crow, Jackdaw, Magpie plus several Jays and disturbed a noisy Green Woodpecker while watching a Kestrel being harassed by two Crows. Three House Martins were also busily chasing insects high overhead.

Apart from a few Speckled Woods on the wing I located several Small Copper (Lycaena phlaeas). These very tiny but delightful flutters were initially very mobile but I eventually located one at rest in an area that had recently been frequented by the cattle that are drafted in every summer to help manage this habitat. Fortunately they have now departed but evidence of their prior activities is everywhere!

While photographing this individual (above) and trying to be careful where I knelt I noticed another brighter specimen close by with slightly different markings.

The very distinctive row of blue spots on the hindwing indicate that this is the fairly common variation known as caeruleopunctata.

The only other butterfly seen was a solitary Common Blue (Polyommatus icarus) that was extremely evasive as it searched constantly for nectar over a wide area with very few sources still in flower.  FAB.

Friday, 19 September 2014

Some Recent Wildlife.

A few images of the wildlife I've seen recently.

A distant, cropped shot of three in a row on the muddy margins of the Ferry Pool at Siddlesham. (The green smudges were foliage close to the lens!)
From left to right .. Avocet, Black-tailed Godwit and an Oystercatcher.

The Avocet adults were happy to let the Godwit pass by their resting youngster BUT the Oystercatcher was definitely not a welcome intruder. The defiant sideways glance was enough to deter the Oystercatcher treading any closer.

During a butterfly foray near Ewhurst, Surrey I watched a Red Kite being harassed by several Crows.

A Magpie at Tices Meadows where I also caught up with a Little Stint and my 4th only UK sighting of a Pectoral Sandpiper in the last 10 years. Unfortunately both these waders were too far distant for the lens.

A regular resident on my local patch walks ... Great-spotted Woodpecker.
A Painted Lady at rest on the perimeter of the disused Wisley Airfield.

While wandering alongside a watercourse in Bushy Park a Red Doe very quietly emerged from the lush green foliage, continued to feed and totally ignored my presence. After about 10 minutes she slowly wandered away but still kept a beady eye on you know who!

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

Linking to I'D-Rather-B-Birdin', Saturday's Critters and Camera Critters.

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Rural and Rustic.

During a walk earlier this week I trod various footpaths bordered by wooden fences that traditionally enclose pastures and paddocks throughout my home County.

The top rail of any wooden fence is always a good spot to find a Common Darter resting and soaking up the late summer sunshine.

A view across the gently rolling rural landscape of The Weald with its unkempt meadows surrounded by woodland and the manicured lawns of a local Polo Club in the distance.

Unfortunately very few butterflies were logged during this walk. The most numerous were Speckled Wood (above) that frequent the damper woodland areas, a few Green-veined Whites, Red Admiral, Small Copper (for images see my previous post) plus a totally unexpected female Brown Hairstreak. 

 Of course some fences are in much better shape than others.   FAB.

Linking to Good Fences hosted by TexWisGirl.

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Solitary Small Copper.

During a butterfly foray today close to the southernmost border of Surrey I came across a  solitary but very restless Small Copper (Lycaena phlaeas) flying around and occasionally landing to feed on one of the many patches of Common Fleabane, its  popular nectar source.

All images taken with the PowerShot SX50 HS.   FAB.

Monday, 15 September 2014

Migrant Hawker.

I don't know whether I have been unobservant in past summers but I seem to have seen far more Migrant Hawkers (Aeshna mixta) this year than ever before or maybe I've just been in the right location at the right time.
Whilst I published a couple of images a month ago taken last September a very recent visit to The London Wetland Centre at Barnes provided an opportunity to grab a few up to date shots of this delightful dragonfly as there were plenty of males hawking low around the waterside fringes.
 The only females I spotted were attached in tandem to their partners.

I tried desperately to get a head-on in flight shot but for some reason they only wanted to hover just above the reeds pointing towards the water! Obviously far more interested in finding a mate than pleasing the whims and wishes of a wildlife watcher.

At least the image shows how each wing works independently of the others thus enabling these Hawkers to both hover and undertake those intricate movements in any direction they desire.  FAB.

Thursday, 11 September 2014

London Wetland Centre.

A location that I often visit throughout the year is The London Wetland Centre at Barnes. As you cross the bridge astride the entrance pools the statue of Sir Peter Scott always serves as a reminder of his dedication to education, research and the conservation of wildlife. His establishment of the Wildfowl Trust in 1946 has allowed millions of people to enjoy getting close to living wildfowl from all round the world.

A mix of habitats throughout the 'World Wetlands' area provides an opportunity to watch and photograph species such as White-faced Whistling Duck, Black-bellied Whistling Ducks chilling out, Ferruginous Duck, plus Red-breasted and Barnacle Geese. Just a a few of the many and varied captive species.

The various hides around the 'Wildside' areas produce an array of our native and migrating avian species throughout the year. A few regulars depicted here .. Tufted Duck, Black-headed Gulls, Canada Goose, Moorhen And Coot.

During a break for coffee and cake during a visit earlier this week we were joined by a young Carrion Crow constantly opening and closing its beak but not uttering a sound. It hung around for a while before flying off to another table to pick up a discarded scrap.

Elsewhere there was interest from colour in the wildlife garden, Frogs and resting Common Darter.

 But all too soon it was time to head home via the entrance bridge.  FAB.

Linking to Good Fences hosted by TexWisGirl.

Tuesday, 9 September 2014


The name 'Dabchick' is synonymous with the Little Grebe (Tachybabtus ruficollis), often described as a shy, small, rounded or dumpy grebe which has a fluffy or 'powder-puff' rear end.

During a visit to the London Wetland Centre at Barnes on Monday we saw several at long distance, constantly diving and often moving further away but eventually located one individual from one of the hides who stayed afloat long enough for a few images.

I had to use the digital zoom capabilities of the PowerShot SX50 HS but by using the hide window ledge as a steady I'm fairly pleased with the cropped results.

Eventually the bill will darken; the cheeks and foreneck will attain its adult chestnut hue plus the prominent and distinctive pale yellow fleshy gape (see image below taken later in Sept 2010 and in the blog header)FAB.


Friday, 5 September 2014

Alert Does.

All images taken during a short stroll through Richmond Park today.

A small group of Red Deer does with their ears pricked and watching for any intruders. (A fairly distant shot suitably cropped)
A few moments later I detected movement behind me and saw an 'unleashed' dog running into the ferny undergrowth disturbing a few Fallow does who emerged from their hiding place and promptly pranced away to safety. (Chance shot taken on the wrong settings!)

As I quietly followed an overgrown pathway leading deep into the shoulder high bracken the head of a Red doe popped up to inspect me before slowly disappearing into the lush vegetation.

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

Linking to Saturday's Critters.


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