Tuesday, 13 November 2018

Great White Egret.

I had noted reports of a Great White Egret frequenting Penn Pond in Richmond Park over the past couple of weeks so took the opportunity today to pay a visit. Whilst I had good views through the bins the subject was at extreme range for my lens but here are a few record (cropped) shots.

A nice addition to my Surrey life list.  FAB.

Saturday, 20 October 2018

Coastal Surprise.

During a very recent camping holiday in the New Forest we made a visit to Keyhaven Marshes and spent a few hours wandering along the coastal path.

Pied Wagtail

Numerous individuals were seen feeding and flying around the muddy margins at Keyhaven harbour.

One of two Northern Wheatear seen along the shoreline feeding up before continuing their southerly migration.

Little Egrets - Fishing and flying.

Black-tailed Godwit

The inland pools produced sightings of various waders including Redshank, Greenshank, Dunlin, Black-tailed Godwit and a very brief visit by a Temminck's Stint but the most exciting sighting was of two juvenile Grey Phalarope.

[Juvenile - 1st Winter] Grey Phalarope (Phalaropus fulicaius)

This small wader, similar in size to a Dunlin, is listed in most guides as a Red Phalarope but commonly referred to as the Grey. Distinguished from its close relative, the Red-necked, by its slightly thicker bill and pale grey scapulars.

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Saturday's Critters

Tuesday, 7 August 2018

Transect Update - Weeks 18 and 19.

On my last two weekly walks I thought the conditions were ideal for butterflies, with temperatures in the mid 20's and plenty of sunshine, but only 10 separate species were logged and in very low numbers. However the photo opportunities for several species; all seen in Section 4, a large open glade; made up for the lack of overall activity.

One of seven Purple Hairstreaks recorded over the last two weeks and brings this seasons total up to 96 individual sightings for this species..

The highest tally of just 10 for an individual species was the diminutive Brown Argus

Flying in the same area as the Brown Argus were several male Common Blues, the first of two new species recorded on the transect since I started in 2015, but I only managed an underwing shot (below).

The second new sighting was the Small Copper (below) with 5 individuals counted over the last two weeks.

This little flutter definitely thrives in hot, sunny conditions. In good years three or even four broods might be produced but if the summer weather turns cool and wet the populations crash and can take several years to recover.

Linking to:
Nature Notes.

Saturday, 4 August 2018

Our 45th Anniversary.

Gosh, how time flies … 45 years since we said our vows together.


And hopefully many, many more to come.
xxxxx  FAB.

Tuesday, 31 July 2018

There be Dragons here.

Many of my readers will know of my regular visits, throughout the seasons, to the acidic heathland, bog, ponds and woodlands at Thursley Common National Nature Reserve  for its wealth of wildlife, notably its special birds and a habitat that also supports over 20 species of Odonata.

A carved sign alongside the boardwalk depicts some of the delights that can be found here and this post serves to illustrate the dragon species I have seen here during the past month.

Four-spotted Chaser (Libellula quadrimaculata).

Four-spotted Chaser (Above and below)

Black-tailed Skimmer (Orthetrum cancellatum) [Male above - Female below]

Keeled Skimmer (Orthetrum coerulescens) [Male above - Female below]

Keeled Skimmer - Mating pair.

Common Darter (Sympetrum striolatum) [Male above - Female below]

Black Darter (Sympetrum danae) [Male above - Female below]

The Damsels will feature in a future post.

Friday, 27 July 2018

Transect Update - Weeks 16 and 17.

The temperatures during my Week 16 and 17 transect walks varied between 24 and 28 deg.C definitely the hottest and most humid so far this season with the total number of sightings dropping slightly in the higher temperature last week.

Gatekeepers continued to be the highest recorded species over the last two weeks.


Sightings of all the three Skipper species recorded on the transect has shown a downward trend for the last three years. The reasons could be weather related at the larval stage; the timing when the grass rides are mown plus the ever increasing spread of bracken outcompeting the grasses.

Essex Skipper
Although the number of Meadow Brown and Ringlet logged during weeks 16 and 17 have fallen they continue to be the top two annual recorded species for this transect.

Perhaps not unexpectedly for this oak woodland site the one species that has done exceptionally well this year is the Purple Hairstreak. On the 21 July I recorded 26 and last week I logged 43 with many other sightings away from the transect.

Purple Hairstreak

Just one Marbled White seen again in Section 4 last week.

Marbled White

Two other species that has definitely caught my eye this season are the diminutive Brown Argus with nine individuals recorded last week plus six Common Blue.

Common Blue - Female (left) Male (right)

Brown Argus

Over the last 17 weeks I have now recorded 1024 separate sightings of 21 species. This total to date far exceeds any of the previous three years annual counts BUT this does not infer that some of these flutters are doing well just that the recent lengthy period of warmer conditions has brought them out of hiding and made it easier to find and count them.

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Wednesday, 25 July 2018

Ruddy Darter.

I took a late morning stroll on Epsom Common yesterday in hot, muggy conditions hoping to grab some more butterfly images but instead came home with something entirely different.

A male Ruddy Darter (Sympetrum sanguineum) decided to land on a strand of the electric fencing, erected to isolate the Belted Galloway that are used for habitat management, without any ill effect. Now if I had touched it there would have been at least a few unforgettable tingles!!

The male didn't hang around for any close-ups but I found a female that was far more cooperative.

Saturday, 21 July 2018

Headley Heath Fieldtrip.

Early on Thursday morning I spent a couple of hours wandering across the chalk heath and downland at Headley in the hope of adding a few species to my photo album for this season before joining an pre-planned Butterfly Conservation fieldtrip around this National Trust site.

Not unsurprisingly the most numerous species were the Gatekeeper (above) and Brown Argus (below) frantically nectaring everywhere I trod.

Not initially finding any of my target species I decided to sit awhile at a convenient spot and just soak up the atmosphere and monitor the comings and goings and nearby I spotted a couple of moths.

A Silver-Y and a Common Purple and Gold (Mint Moth).

As the temperature started to rise there was a marked increase in aerial activity and whilst I had seen Dark Green Fritillary at another site earlier this month I had not previously managed to grab any images so finding a female briefly perched was a bonus. I also saw two others, probably males, flying strongly across the hillside.

A few minutes later I located the species I was hoping to find, the rare Silver-spotted Skipper (Hesperia comma).

At around midday I was joined by the large group of BC members on this section of open hillside where a few more Silver-spotted were seen.

A male Chalkhill Blue (Lysandra coridon) was another first for me for 2018.

Above are just a few of the other species logged during our walk, including Silver-washed Fritillary, Marbled White, Speckled Wood, Common Blue and Brimstone.

The final new sighting was a very drowsy female Purple Emperor (below) who eventually fluttered high into the nearby woodland

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