Friday, 26 August 2016

26th August - To Run Away From You

There has been a heatwave this week, with temperatures hitting over thirty degrees on Tuesday.  Of course the result of that was a series of storms moving through from the south coast but  these managed to miss us here in Four marks, and all we had were dark clouds a few spots of rain, but very humid conditions.

The nights are getting longer, and it is almost dark when I get up at 6.00am.  Over the past week with the windows open due to the hot nights I have heard several Tawny Owl calls, and closer to dawn there has been snippets of song from one of the garden Robins.  This morning this turned into the full melancholic winter song of the Robin, autumn is not far away.

In the garden the Siskins continue to visit, you know they are there when you hear the distinctive "tiluhee" call from within the trees.  Scruffy the Blackbird appears to be on the mend once again.  Helen has managed to get him to come close to take mealworms, and he looks a lot better.

With still and warm conditions I decided to put the moth trap out last night, and just after I did we, ironically had a short sharp shower of rain.  The rest of the night was dry though, and in the morning it was very welcome to find a good selection of moths, dominated though by Dusky Thorns, I counted 12 in total.



If you look closely at the head and abdomen you can see the antennae swept back from the head, almost like the wings on Thor's helmet.  I decided to take a different approach to photographing the moths to try and get some of the features.  Here you can see the large antennae that the Dusky Thorn has.



And the large dark eyes.



With the Dusky Thorns were a couple of smaller Canary Shouldered Thorns, the shoulders being bright yellow.



Again with the large antennae, swept back when view from a different angle.



The next to come out is a Copper Underwing, a first for the garden.



When the wings open up there is a lovely deep copper red colour, that can also be seen when the moth is in flight.

Two Lesser Swallow Prominents were next.



The white flash at the top of the wings distinguish it from the Swallow Prominent.  This is a different view on the flower of a Clover.



A Green Carpet for once allowed me to get it out, and photograph it, usually these just fly away.



Finally the smallest of the collection, but again a new moth for the garden, or the first time I have been able to identify one.  A Lime Specked Pug.  It has a wingspan of about a centimetre.



The weather had delivered, a nice selection, and two new moths identified for the garden which takes my total now up to 125.  Hopefully I will get the chance to get out over the weekend, there is a lot of activity around the south coast, with movement of small song birds waders and several Ospreys, I would love one of those to drift over here once again, we shall just have to see.

Sunday, 21 August 2016

21st August - Lets Go Dancin' In The Light

After the warmth and sunshine of the week, the seasons suddenly changed on Friday with heavy rain almost all day, and then strong winds and gales with storm like showers Saturday.  This morning there was rain early, but this cleared, and slowly the skies cleared to give an afternoon of sunny spells, but still with a fresh wind.

The garden remains busy, with the feeders continuing to be emptied at a fair rate.  The Nuthatch and Siskins are still about along with the usual Tits Robins and Blackbirds.  Unfortunately Scruffy seems to be suffering again, the feathers even after moult showing signs of wear once again, it is very sad to see him like this.

There was then a certain amount of uncertainty about what I would find as I walked up the hill towards the the Rotherfield Estate early this afternoon.  The walk up the hill was almost in silence, with only the odd contact call from the yew trees.  I made my way to the pond where there was nothing about, and then around to the barn and down the main path. 

In front of me a Small Tortoiseshell butterfly fought the fresh wind to land on the grass in the middle of the path.


As I walked around the clump of bramble another flew up and away from me.  I crossed the main path once again, and disturbed a very pale butterfly.  I waited for it to settle, and to get a better look.  When it did I could see that it was a very, very pale Meadow Brown.


I walked on to the quarry, then across the road and up the path past the Plain Farmhouse and grain barns.  Coming up the hill into the fields the cows were feeding in the field, silhouetting against the sun lit sky.


At the cottages at the side of the lane is full of seeding plants, and consequently there were lots of birds feeding on them.  They were also taking advantage of the dust in the lanes to bathe in.  Here House Sparrows and a Yellowhammer


In amongst the seeding Cowparsley were juvenile Goldfinches.


Taking the chance to preen the new feathers.


With Goldfinches, Yellowhammers and House Sparrows it only needed Linnets to complete the set, and one appeared on the wires above me, a good sign that leaving these plants to seed and not cutting them down benefits these seed eating birds.


I walked on, and made my way to the footpath just past the cottages at the end of the lane.  The path was sheltered from the wind, and almost immediately, with the sun out there were butterflies about.  Several Speckled Woods.


A lovely Green-veined White, that are probably over looked as just a "Cabbage White", but have a very delicate appearance.


And finally one of the butterflies referred to as a "Cabbage White", a Small White.


At the end of the path I walked through to view the field.  It had been harvested, and was now being ploughed.  I saw one Buzzard fly across the field, then heard to calls of several others.  Then they started to appear for the field, calling and chasing each other.  I counted at least five, and there may have been at last three juveniles.  They continued to chase each other around with the mewing constant.


The field where the butterflies had been in July was still there and with most of the flowers gone to seed.  I decided not to walk through, so turned and made my way towards Charlwood.  Unusually for here, a dragonfly flew past me, and fortunately stopped in a tree.  It was a Southern Hawker.


Walking along Charlwood, the field to the west and over towards Ropley had just been cut, and the straw lay on the ground, turning it a lovely golden brown.


Reaching the horse paddocks the skies were full of Swallows, adults and juveniles flying around calling, and performing acrobatics in the wind.


They would hang above me, as if practicing and exercising their flight skills, to prepare for the long journey they will undertake soon.

The juveniles can easily be picked out by the lack of tail streamers, although the adults by now may be worn.


The air had been full of seeds being blown by the wind.  The reason for this is the predominance of a pink flower in the hedgerows and along the lanes.  This is the Rosebay Willowherb, a tall flower with spikes of pink flowers.


As I approached the car I could see a shape in the nearby field that looked familiar, as I go t a little closer it was clear it was a Brown Hare that was enjoying the sunshine.


Then it realised i was watching it, and it became more alert.


I drove along Lye Way just to see what may be about.  Just past the farm the field has recently been ploughed and was full of Rooks.


The Rooks were also joined by at least five species of gulls.  I could see Black-headed, Common and a single Herring Gull, and Great Black-backed, and Lesser Black-backed Gulls.


I then made my way home.  The skies were becoming overcast once again, and while there were some items of interest, it was quite quiet, as is usually the case at harvest time.  Hopefully as the fields are ploughed and left they may become an attraction to migrants moving through.

Sunday, 14 August 2016

14th August - Everyone Here, Knows Everyone Here Is Thinking About Somebody Else

A partly overcast morning with a hint of sunshine, but it was not cold, and in fact felt quite warm early on.  We set out along Brislands Lane, with the sun coming out every so often.  It was quiet, a few Blackbirds were searching for food along the edge of the road, probably still feeding young birds.  A Great Tit flew across in front of us, and perched on the side of an Oak tree.


There were the first signs of autumn and winter beyond in the hedgerow, a few Cyclamen were starting to flower, and there were stems of orange berries coming from the Lords and Ladies plants that had flowered in the early spring.


Helen then found a small pretty moth hiding under the leaves in the Beech hedge.  It is a called a Pretty Chalk Carpet.


We turned into Gradwell, and as we approached the footpath turn we could see a duck on the side of the road, unfortunately not one I could identify, or count!


We crossed the field leading into Old Down Wood.  The sun was in, and there were no butterflies about despite the flowers in the hedge, and at the side of the field.

As we came into the wood it was very quiet, then as we passed a large clump of Bramble several Wrens started calling.  There was a family party, probably a second brood, something I have not noticed around here.  However the young birds continued to call out in the open.


The calling just to make sure that everyone knew where everyone was.


The first butterfly to appear was of course a Meadow Brown, but it was very worn.  Next was a rather smart Gatekeeper.


We carried along the main path, then turned onto the Kitwood path, again a few Meadow Browns, but very little else.  We took the perimeter path, and camme out onto the main path at Old Down Cottage.  The sun was now out, and as we walked there were more calling Wrens, and several Large White butterflies.

A bright red form on a Bramble leaf turned out to be a very smart Peacock.  I saw lots of butterflies when walking in the Dolomites just recently, many of them new ones to me.  But apart from maybe the Scarce Swallowtail, none of them were as beautiful as this Peacock butterfly.


A little further on and we paused to watch the bees on the Cow Parsley.  As we did, a Silver-washed Fritillary flew past, circled back and landed in front of us.


Its coming to the end of their flight period, and this one was beginning to look a little faded.


Back to the bees, and there were several Forest Cuckoo Bees feeding on the parsley.


Where the sunshine came through the leaves there were Speckled Woods sitting on the broad leaves.


There were very few birds about.  We could hear a Green Woodpecker somewhere in amongst the trees, and every so often the mew of a Buzzard above us.  At this time of year a lot of the local resident birds under go a moult, and as they can be vulnerable to predators they spend much of the time hidden away, silent in amongst the leaves.  We watched this Robin quite closely as it crept through the Hazel bush.


The rest of the walk through the wood didn't reveal that much, the odd Speckled Wood and Meadow Brown.  We turned out of the wood, and then down through the Desmond Paddocks.  From here we headed up Andrew Lane which was quite overgrown on either side.

At the top of the lane, there is an open patch, and a male Brimstone was sitting in the grass.


We made our way along the top of the lane, past the field with lambs that are now well grown.  We then came down the footpath alongside the field that comes out close to Old Down Cottage and the pond.

The side of the field was lined with daisies, and to my delight a Common Blue butterfly came up out of the flowers.  The delight soon changed as it just didn't stop, but it was a first for the year, and at last I had found one after a lot of searching.

A little further on we came across a rather worn Green-veined White in amongst the ragwort.


A little further on, this time on the small vine flowers was a Small White.


Despite more searching we couldn't find any other butterflies.  At the style we turned in the direction of the pond, and stopping there the water lilies look lovely on the dark water of the pond.


A closer look at the lilies revealed a Red-eyed Damselfly on the pads.


We walked towards Kitwood Lane, pausing to look at the Violet Helleborines that were now in full flower.


A little further on an old Oak tree was not looking too good, and in a broken part of the main trunk there was a collection of bright yellow and orange that I think is the early stages of the fungi Chicken of the Woods.


We walked through the meadow, that seems to have been left, there were some trefoil flowers about, but other than a small white no butterflies.  We crossed the field and went through the wood.  We had several Red Admiral passing us but they never stopped.

As we came to the the entrance a Southern Hawker Dragonfly was circling the trees, then settled on one of the branches.


Close by another Green-veined White was sitting on a leaf, this one was in a little better condition.


As we walked along Brisland a group of Bullfinches were calling in the bushes, and as We came closer two young Bullfinches crossed in front of us, and then the male which I found sitting in a bush in the nearby garden.


Next door a juvenile Robin was perched on a gate watching the ground for possible food.


Coming up Lymington Rise, another blue butterfly flew up bythe side of the house.  It settled on a dead rose head, and could see it was a Holly Blue.


And that was it, a blue butterfly at last, but not photographed.  Not much of the summer left, and soon the coolness of autumn will be with us.  For now lets just enjoy the weather.