Saturday, 28 May 2016

Blue Tits Fledging.

While checking the progress of vegetable seedlings in the garden this afternoon I realised that the adult Blue Tits were extremely vocal so I went to investigate. 

Initially I thought they were indicating that one of the neighbourhood cats was nearby but then I noticed a very young head peeping out of the nest box so I dashed back indoors to tell Anita and to get the camera.

From about 1.15 pm we watched and counted four young Blue Tits leave the box and fly into a neighbours Birch. 

Including my initial sighting I'm guessing that they successfully reared at least five.

So here are a few images of this event.

 Do I really what to leave?

Hmmm ... it's a bit different out there!
OK ... Here goes.

During the afternoon the adults made various forays to the feeder closest to the house and carried food back to their fledglings who remained in their hidden location. I caught one adult vocalising as another local feline slinked across the patio!

Linking to:
Nature Notes
Wild Bird Wednesday

Friday, 27 May 2016

Friday Flutters.

My butterfly transect walk earlier this week through the woodland glades on Ashtead Common only produced two species; Brimstone and Speckled Wood (see image left) plus views of several Speckled Yellow, a day flying moth patrolling the open tracks; so on Thursday I decided to wander the southern chalk downland slope at Denbies Hillside.

Before tackling the downward slope I wandered across the upper meadow; the track-way lined with buttercups; and spotted numerous Five-spot Burnet moths amongst the grasses.

Five-spot Burnet.

A mating pair.

Descending the slope towards the gate provided my first view this year of a Common Blue perched low down in the grassy sword keeping out of the north-easterly breeze.

A few Brimstone and a solitary Orange-tip were also seen patrolling the field edge.

I was also delighted to see decent numbers of our commonest grassland species, the tiny Small Heath, which from past experience rarely perch for very long but I found one individual that sat just long enough for the lens to focus on it.

Small Heath.

My peripheral vision locked onto another inconspicuous and well camouflaged species, a Green Hairstreak, also hiding deep in the hillside vegetation. 

Green Hairstreak.

Deciding to take a rest and eat my packed lunch close to a bare patch of chalk was a good choice as I was shortly able to enjoy decent views of a fresh male Adonis Blue.

Adonis Blue (male).

On reaching the bottom of the slope I eventually came across a female Adonis Blue (see below).

Adonis Blue (female).

Finally a shot of the hillside resident that is a very important grazing species on the downs, necessary for creating very fine, short turf that is required by the rare Adonis Blue and other downland species.

Linking to:
Saturday's Critters

Wednesday, 25 May 2016

New Life.

A brief session with a couple of the Canada goslings, now just a few weeks old,  as they explored their new surroundings.

Monday, 23 May 2016

Blue Tits - Nesting Update.

During the weekend Anita confirmed that there were noises coming from the box in the birch at the bottom of the garden indicating that some Blue Tit eggs had hatched. Incubation normally takes between 13 to 15 days.

So after returning from a patch walk at 2pm on Monday I spent a little while monitoring the activity around the box.

The adults are notoriously quick at entering and exiting the nest box so a little patience was required to grab a few shots during a 30 minute session before the sky darkened once again ahead of another rain shower!

The normal protein source is usually juicy caterpillars but during this session the adults were obviously visiting the garden feeders for sunflower hearts and the occasional mouthful of fat enriched with meal worms.

How they manage to call with a full mouthful to announce their arrival before entering the box beats me!!

All this effort definitely takes its toll on the adult's plumage. 

If all goes well, depending on the weather and availability of the required food sources, the nestlings should fledge in about 18 - 21 days time. The monitoring will continue.

Linking to:

Friday, 20 May 2016

A New Project.

Views over the fields where I have recently agreed to carry out a series of farmland bird surveys over the next few years as part of a small team of BTO volunteers covering a number of farms forming part of a large estate in Surrey. The survey results will assist the tenant farmer and the land owners to monitor and evaluate their ongoing efforts to improve the farmed environment for wild pollinators, farmland birds and other wildlife under the Countryside Stewardship Scheme. 

The first of two fields forming my survey area is already showing signs of its flower rich status.

During my first early am visit this week I recorded 19 bird species mostly seen, heard or flying around the field boundaries; including Goldfinch, Jackdaw, Stock Dove, Common Whitethroat and Woodpigeon that constitute five of the 19 target species included in the scheme aims. It will be interesting to see what other species are noted during future visits throughout the year.

  Above are Common Whitethroat, Magpie, Chiffchaff and Song Thrush.

Looking into a piece of woodland bordering the lower field there was still a decent show of Bluebells and some Early Purple Orchids.

The inhabitants of an adjoining field were typically curious about the unexpected wanderer on the other side of the hedgerow as was the Robin below.

Linking to:
Saturday's Critters

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

Encounter with a Duke.

Last week, following an e-mail from an ex-work colleague, I accepted an invitation to drive over to Kent to see some early flowering wild Orchids and hopefully to find and photograph a 'Duke'. After an hour plus journey we met up on the fringes of Denge Wood and started our walk along the forest trail towards Bonsai Bank.

One or two Brimstone were on the wing beside the trail but the only flutter to offer a quick shot was this Speckled Wood who briefly rested on the track. On entering the flower rich area of chalk grassland known as Bonsai Bank, which takes its name from the stunted conifers that grow there, we were greeted by a delightful array of wild orchids.

This collage is dominated by the Lady Orchid as I had not photographed this species before and just one image of the Early Purple. Before searching for our main quarry I spotted this Green Carpet Moth (below) resting on vegetation.

Fortunately it didn't take us long to find the star attraction of this site, the rare Duke of Burgundy (Hamearis lucina) occurring in small discrete colonies in scrubby calcareous grassland and recent woodland clearings where its larval food plants, either Primrose (Primula vulgaris) or Cowslip (P. veris), grow in reasonable abundance in sheltered but open, sunny conditions.

As this was the first time I had encountered this small, rare butterfly we spent some time in their company before moving onto another location to take a stroll across a yellow strewn hillside dotted with a bit of purple.

My thanks go to David for suggesting this outing and the unforgettable encounter with the 'Duke'.  FAB.

Linking to:

Thursday, 12 May 2016

Treading more Boards.

Another boardwalk trail that I like to wander is located at the Riverside Country Park just over a 30 minute drive from home. The start of my leisurely stroll takes me a short distance alongside the River Wey Navigation where I watched a Common Buzzard being harried by Crows before stepping onto the first stretch of boards leading over stagnant water in a small woodland.

Depending on the time of day and the wind direction the road noise from the adjacent A3 can be quite overpowering so the ears have to work a bit harder to pick out the calls of the resident birds.

On this occasion it was the usual suspects; Robin, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Long-tailed Tit, Wren, Song Thrush plus the intermittent song of a Blackcap. 

As I walked towards the main lake I saw a number of male Orange Tip butterflies patrolling the grassland but non of them stopped for a photo call!

The main lake didn't hold much of interest just Coot, Canada Geese, Mallard and Moorhen so I turned onto the main boardwalk that crosses the marsh and immediately picked up the scratchy sounds of a Sedge Warbler, typically hidden from view, and parked myself on one of the highly carved seats.

A little time here enabled a few distant shots of a male Reed Bunting (below) singing while endeavouring to maintain its balance on a flimsy perch in the gusty breeze.

One arm of the boardwalk leads into the damp woodland where there is a curved screen with portholes overlooking a small area of open water. Unsurprisingly parts of the hide screen have already been vandalised plus there was recent evidence of a fire on the floor!
You can view an article in The Guildford Dragon News which has images of the original boardwalk and hide construction completed in May 2013 at at exorbitant cost of £210,000 but at least it means you don't have to wear waders to cross the marsh!

A Mute Swan (above) drifted in and then out of view followed shortly after by Mrs Mallard with seven youngsters in tow who spent some minutes paddling in and out of the shadows beneath the boardwalk.

Following the boardwalk again past clumps of Marsh Marigold towards the Wey Navigation I logged a lot more very active Orange Tips, plus one Peacock butterfly before crossing the bridge to sit awhile at Stoke Lock and watch the peacefully slow activity on the waterway.  

A Grey Wagtail was extremely busy catching and carrying insects to a nearby nest. Retracing my steps I listened to Chiffchaff and Common Whitethroat while being serenaded by a Robin.

Linking to:
Good Fences
Saturday's Critters

Monday, 9 May 2016

Troglodytes troglodytes.

On any of my walks it would be very unusual not to encounter this small active brown bird with its cocked tail often just announcing its presence with its loud voice before promptly disappearing into deep cover.

The [Eurasian] Wren (Troglodytes troglodytes), otherwise known as 'Jenny Wren' is our commonest UK breeding bird, although it does suffer declines during prolonged, severely cold winters. Currently the local population is in very healthy.

The scientific name is taken from the Greek word "troglodytes" (from "trogle" a hole, and "dyein" to creep), meaning "cave-dweller", and refers to its habit of disappearing into cavities or crevices whilst hunting arthropods or to roost.

Click below to check out its remarkably loud voice: 

If there are any problems with the sonogram here is the direct link:

This individual was very obliging during a recent early morning stroll around Castle Hill LNR.

Linking to:
Through My Lens
Wild Bird Wednesday


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