Thursday, 27 July 2017

Lowland Heath Specialities.




During a butterfly foray on Chobham Common last weekend despite being plagued by inclement weather I managed to get a few images of some of the special species that can be found on this very important lowland heath habitat.






A female Black Darter (Sympetrum danae).

Small Red Damselfly (Ceriagrion tenellum).

Emerald Damselfly [female] (Lestes sponsa).

Emerald Damselfly [male] (Lestes sponsa).

A male Keeled Skimmer (Orthetrum coerulescens).

Other species seen were Common Blue and Azure Damselflies.

Due to the intermittent rain showers only a few butterfly species clearly seen by me were Gatekeeper, Meadow Brown, Ringlet, Speckled Wood, Large Skipper and Brimstone plus probably one of the most cryptically camouflaged species, the Grayling.

 Grayling (Hipparchia Semele).



Saturday, 22 July 2017

Flutters on Headley Heath.

On Thursday, together with 15 other enthusiasts, I took part in a butterfly walk at Headley Heath with its mixed habitats of heathland, chalk downland and mixed woodland. During the first hour there was very little 'flutter' activity due to the blustery wind and light rain showers but from mid-day onwards things brightened up and we eventually logged 22 species.

Once again the new macro lens was in action and here are just a few of the species I photographed.

 Chalkhill Blue (male).

Silver-Y Moth.

Small Copper (male).

While there were a few Common Blues on the wing once the sky brightened up it was very pleasing to find a Brown Argus, initially perched with closed wings and then it decided to show its upper wing surfaces.


Just before we stopped to consume packed lunches one person spotted and photographed a White-letter Hairstreak but it promptly flew away. After lunch we staked out the location and eventually relocated this fairly worn individual.

Several Silver-spotted Skippers were seen and I managed a clearer shot than my previous effort earlier in the week at Juniper Bottom.

Unfortunately the woodland failed to produce a sighting of a Purple Emperor BUT we saw plenty of Purple Hairstreaks (see below).

Initial views were individuals flitting around the Oaks, often at very low level and then one tame individual perched on our leader's finger for its photo call!


Linking to:

Thursday, 20 July 2017

Getting to grips with new gear.


At long last I finally decided it was time to upgrade from my trusty Canon 450D that has served me well for many years to something with a great deal more fire power and also add a macro lens to my tool box.

So earlier this week I paid an early morning visit to the lower chalk downland slopes at Juniper Bottom together with my new 80D and a 100mm f2.8L Macro lens in anticipation of finding some 'flutters' to photograph.

Whilst the temperature was a reasonable 19 deg.C there was a blustery wind and nothing appeared to be on the wing until I spotted a lonely male Marbled White hunkered down in the grass.

Over the following twenty minutes it constantly flitted around the hillside rarely stopping to perch for a second or two but finally came to rest long enough to test the new set up.


As the morning wore on I found a few other species.

A male Common Blue.


And fairly close by was a female Common Blue (below).


When the sun disappeared behind the clouds I turned my attention to the varied selection of wild flowers scattered over the grassland.


Attaching an extension tube to the macro lens gave me an opportunity to test its use with some close-ups of Knapweed bracts (below).


A male Small Skipper.

A chance find was this Silver-Spotted Skipper hiding close to my feet and I only managed one shot before it flew away never to be seen again!

There were plenty of Six-spot Burnets all over the grassland.
 
One species I was hopeful of seeing was the Dark Green Fritillary (below). I followed several up and down the slope for what seemed ages before getting just one shot of this individual as it perched briefly.


Having reviewed all the images taken during this test excursion I am very pleased with the outcome and performance of the new gear ... just need to get used to the different button layout on the 80D and maybe read the instruction manual. FAB.

Thursday, 6 July 2017

R.I.P. Don.

It has been a rollercoaster ride over the past few weeks for my wife Anita and her close family culminating in the passing away on Monday morning in the very early hours of my Father-in-Law, Donald Reginald Cox (1929 - 2017), following a very eventful time in hospital.

The Nursing Staff at the Royal Berkshire are to be commended for their helpfulness, dedication and compassion. Despite their constant demanding routine nothing was too much trouble for an ailing patient or his concerned siblings.

I have fond memories of much better times including several holidays that we shared together with him and his late wife, Jean. His final passing was a blessed relief for both him and his immediate family to whom I offer my sincere condolences.

R.I.P. Don.

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