Saturday, 29 July 2017

brown,blue and green

As High Summer reaches it's zenith the garden meadow is stroked by the wings of jewelled-flutterers. Brown Argus have emerged alongside Common Blues. They wait like pennants on tall grass stems, until the sun breaks free and energises them, and they flit low between knapweed flowers. Gatekeepers and Skippers already foreshadow the orange-brown autumn colours, but for now the garden is for the butterflies and bees.


A hatch of Ruddy Darters keep low to the ground, but a  metallic green needle appears and rests in the longer grass. It's a Willow Emerald, larger than it's common cousins, and gone before it's importance has sunk in. The next day it's not to be found, but a squadron of Migrant and Southern Hawkers make sorties across the open space, darting speedily until the clouds force them to retreat to the shelter of the plum trees, awaiting the oncoming shower.

Friday, 14 July 2017

Red Eye

I did record a bit of bird activity last Sunday on the Wildspace.  A Little Ringed Plover took flight from the settling beds and called voraciously over the river and onto the Potters site - it would be great to see some juveniles in a few weeks time.  An adult Garden Warbler was also a real surprise beneath the big Oak tree in the middle of the Wildspace.  I was on the lookout for Black-tailed Skimmers to add to the Big Year list and there was plenty of Odonata on the wing.  Ruddy Darter and Brown Hawker were evident around the first nettle bed along the riverside.  An Emperor hawked high above the in the canopy and following this it had an altercation with a Damselfly hanging high above on a bare branch.  Once it returned to it's lookout it looked like a Willow Emerald and taking a photo was able to crop in to see the spur on the thorax that confirmed it's identity, the first of the year for this recent arrival, first recorded for the county at Roswell Pits.  Around the corner I took a rough path through the scrub and onto the edge of the partial lagoon in the bend of the river.  Watching the damselflies here I thought they looked to have upward bending bodies and they appeared small but when I looked at the photos I had taken they didn't seem to have the X shape on the last segment that would have confirmed Small Red=eyed Damselfly.  However when I returned home and looked at the pictures a couple did show the distinctive marks, a new damselfly for the Wildspace.

From Cuckoo Bridge a Kingfisher patiently eyed the waters below and caught several fish before taking on back to some very vocal young hunger calling from the nearby willows.
Along the river bank I found a Black-tailed Skimmer resting on the bare earth, exactly as it should have been.  Further around an Emerald Damselfly along a stagnant ditch was my first of the year and on a small pond in Springhead Meadow a femal Broad Bodied Chaser was ovipositing, in constant movement and a Four-spotted Chaser looked on from a reed.  Purple Hairstreaks were evident on each of the Oak trees I checked, great to see these in numbers.  A great little spell out in the Wildspace.


Thursday, 13 July 2017

Purple Reign

Midsummer indulgence over a couple of weekends in Ditton Park Wood, Newmarket enjoying a very healthy show of Purple Emperors.  It is a cracking site and an easy visit with a two year old in tow, so family friendly that we took 4 young uns out and while the adults absorbed themselves in Iris the kids disappeared into the woods to make dens and go native.
Himself twice and Her Majesty, on one leaf

Purple Hairstreaks are having a bonanza, every Oak and Ash combination have hairstreaks whizzing within their canopy and at Ditton Park Wood the canopy has been heaving with them in the right spots.  We were lucky and did follow one down, after several hours, onto a low level Hazel leaf.  Buzzing around nearby was a freshly emerged Southern Hawker, just gorgeous.


Sunday, 25 June 2017

At One With The Birds

When I left my job last year I was very touched by a gift I received from a lovely family, they had given me a day flying Falcons. It took me some time to put a date in the calendar but when the day did come I had a tremendous time.  Fenland Falcons in Wisbech St Mary couldn't have been more accommodating.  Following a good look around the birds I was given plenty of guidance and advice in how to use the lure and fly the falcons.  An Essex Skipper was the highlight of the meadowland butterflies and after some practice I watched some flights and then tried to put a bit of what I'd learnt into practice.  Everything changed when a real Lanner Falcon was coming at me with 40mph behind her.  

Atlas - The gorgeous Lanner I was flying

As with the gliding earlier in the week a great buzz and experience, I loved the flying.  Thanks to Michael for the patient training and to the Morris family for  the gift.  The birds at the centre were gorgeous and I was particularly taken with the male Red-footed Falcon, American Kestrel and the Ural Owl.  On the journey home I stopped in on Roswell Pits to look for Dragons and Damsels.  Plenty of both but the scarce ones remained unfound although a showy Comma performed, it's an excellent year for them so far.

  Ruddy darter (m)

Blue-tailed Damselfly (fm)

 Scarce Chaser (m)