Saturday, 24 March 2012

22nd March - You're My Butterfly

Warm sunshine was the order of the day, and right on cue the insects began to return.  In the garden the bumblebees were taking an interest in the newly sprouting lavender.  The garden always warms up and the patio is a real attraction, as this Peacock butterfly can vouch, the first for the year.


I set off for Old Down Wood, and noticed a change along Brislands as the Celandines had now been replaced with Wood Anemones, they looked very bright in the afternoon sunshine and like the Celandines were attracting the bees and flies.  The carpet of white looks very attractive along the road side.


In the field to the north of Brislands Lane a pair of Red-legged Partridges scurried across the towards the A31.  I walked down the footpath, and was immediately surrounded by Skylarks that came off the field and into the air while bursting into song.  I counted 5 pairs as they flew around me.  As I left the field and headed off towards the wood 5 Meadow Pipits flew over and across the fields off to the south.

In Old Down, the Chiffchaffs were well established.  They sang from the lane into the wood, and all over from the trees.  Despite my best efforts I couldn't pin one down for a good photo.  In total I counted 6 singing in the Wood, and later another two at Swelling Hill Pond.

The Bluebells had progressed a little, but not to any great degree, we still have probably another 2 to 3 weeks before the woods are carpeted blue.  However there were plenty of Wood Anemones in amongst the Celenadies and sprouting Bluebells and Wild Garlic.

I saw my first Brimstone butterfly of the year, but as usual they were very active and didn't stop to get a close look.  Along the path there was a small clump of violets just below an Ash tree.  These were very small and delicate and made a nice composition.


These were Common Dog Violets.  The term dog is a derogatory term used for wild flowers to distinguish an inferior form from relatives that are superior in some way.  Other examples are dog rose, and dogwood.

From Old Down I walked through the Desmond Paddocks and then up Swelling Hill Lane.  Two more Peacocks were in the paddocks, and along Swelling Hill, Nuthatches called from the tree tops.  At the pond one of Four Marks rare waterfowl sat by the small jetty, as I got closer it demonstrated that it was quite nervous and hadn't yet realised that ducks are supposed to come for bread in these environments!  The sun on the Mallard's plumage gave it a lovely sheen, that I am sure is mostly overlooked.



Another Brimstone flew around the edge of the pond, which is now looking lovely with the daffodils in full flower.  A Treecreeper worked it's way up a large tree, and Blue and Great Tits called incessantly from the surrounding Trees.  A Buzzard called and slowly made it's way towards the trees, only to bank away when it saw me, it did though give me the opportunity to get a good shot as it banked.


The whole area was very clam compared with the activity of a few weeks ago when the Toads and Frogs were busy mating and spawning.  There was no sign of either today, but you could see the strings of toad spawn around the water plants, and a few clumps of frog spawn.  Looking closely the odd pond skater could be seen skimming across the water.  As well as the bumblebees I found a queen wasp.  These are sometimes confused with Hornets at this time of year, but as you can see from this Hornet photographed last year at Pulborough they are very different

Wasp                                                 Hornet

As I sat watching the water I was amazed to hear a Tawny Owl call from the trees.  Despite looking I could not find it, and it never called again.

Leaving the pond I decided to walk back through the wood, and to check on the Tawny Owl there.  As I entered the wood I noticed the Moorhen on the cottage pond, and by the stile a pair of Yellowhammer were calling at the edge of the bushes.  The female was more confiding, and this gave me the chance to get a photo to show the differences between the male that is much brighter.


The pond where the frogspawn had been was now replaced with very tiny tadpoles.  There is still plenty of water, but there are so many tadpoles you have to wonder what will happen as they grow bigger.  I checked very quickly for the Tawny Owl, and it was still in it's same spot, and it still kept a careful watch on me as I walked up to the tree..  I didn't stay long, just aid hello and walked on.

One feature of the wood today was the emerging honeysuckle leaves, and in the evening sun they looked lovely.


Back in the garden the collared doves are inseparable, they seem to do everything together, I only hope that either does not go way of Colin's mate!

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