Tuesday, 29 May 2012

26th May - Looking Up from Below

The warm weather continued today, the skies were a deep blue, and the breeze continued from the east.  I was hoping that the woods would provide some shelter, and that as the morning warmed up the butterflies would appear.  As I walked along Brislands, I couldn't help but admire the superb flowers on the rhododendron bushes, against the blue sky in the bright sunshine they look wonderful.

As I walked along Brislands by the fields a Yellowhammer managed to get a few notes out, but it seemed it was not happy with the breeze and stayed low in the hedge as it tried to sing.

The wood appeared to be a lot busier this morning, there was much more birdsong, with Blackcap, Robin, Blackbird, and Chiffchaff all singing as I walked down the path into the wood.  The search was for butterflies, so I kept to the open areas where the sunlight could get through.  A Small White flew through, and I also watched two Speckled Wood taking each other on, but they never settled.  I walked around to the bank of bramble hoping that something would be warming up on the leaves, there were no butterflies, but I did find this insect.  I have been trying to identify it, but with no luck so far.  If you do know what it is please let me know (now identified as a Scorpion fly Panorpa Germanica).

Jays were calling very loudly, and a Blackbird was also rattling out it's alarm call behind me so I set off to see if I could find what was disturbing them, unfortunately it went quiet, and I wasn't able to locate either of them, let alone what was annoying them.  I made my way back to the main track in time for a couple of male Orange-Tips to fly past me, again not stopping.  The other area where butterflies like to sun themselves was in the flower beds around the pond so I headed off to see what was there.  As I came out of the wood at Old Down Cottage, a Wren was singing, at first I struggled to find it but then located it on the thatch right above a window.  If he sings from there early in the morning, I bet he is popular, as he was really loud!

Walking along Swelling Hill Lane towards the pond I was fascinated by the flowers of the Cow Parsley and the Rape. They are both tall and against the sky the flowers look spectacular, so I had a go at photographing them from below against the blue of the sky.  I was quite pleased with the end result.

At the pond the water level had fallen again, but what was more apparent was the number of fish.  The warmer weather has brought the large carp to feed on the surface, but also there were plenty of smaller fish such as Roach and Bleak that I have never seen in there before.  As well as the fish quite large tadpoles were swimming around the edge, they have grown over the last few weeks but there were no legs developing on any I could see yet.

A couple of new visitors greeted me as I came around the pond, not sure where these two characters have come from, as I haven't seen them here before, they were not too concerned with me though, and they just sat on the bank.

I was right about the flower bed providing an attraction, but it wasn't to butterflies.  For the first time this year I found the delicate Damselflies flying around the periwinkle and the bramble.  These are Azure and Large Red Damselflies, and close up they look quite spectacular.  Damselflies are similar to dragonflies but the adults can be distinguished by the fact that the wings of most damselflies are held along, and parallel to, the body when at rest. Damselflies are also usually smaller than dragonflies and weaker fliers in comparison, and their eyes are separated.

Sadly, caught amongst the developing lily pads in the middle of the pond was a plastic carrier bag, probably as a result of the warm weather and "evening picnicking" at the pond.

I headed back into Old Down, and along the lane found a butterfly.  This one was blue and sitting on a holly leaf, any ideas?

Another butterfly was fluttering on the edge of the rape, as I got closer I noticed it was a female Orange-Tip, and it appeared to be laying eggs on the stem of the Rape.  It would flutter then settle and move it's abdomen to the stem, then fly off and return again quickly to repeat the act.

I checked the cleared areas again for butterflies, but I could only find this Speckled Wood.  This is a different view from the usual upper wing shot with the "speckles".  I had never realised how nice the under wing appears before.

Where the bramble has been cleared the Bracken is growing and they send up tall stems that make the area look like little tree plantations.  I was again fascinated by what this must look like from below, so I gave it a go.  I would say that for a small insect it must be like us walking through Redwoods ( for those who have seen Springwatch on Monday, I thought of this before they broadcast).

I took the opportunity to look in on the Tawny Owl, but this time much to my surprise there were two!  As I approached the usual tree, another owl flew out of a tree close by.  The other owl remained in the tree, and just looked at me as it had done when we first found it back in March.  Since then sometimes it would stay and sometimes it would flush easily, it made me wonder if they share the tree, and this morning the flighty one had taken the tree close by.  Anyway the owl watched me closely as I managed to get some very nice views.

With two so close together I wondered if there might be owlets around, but I couldn't find any, so I set off to walk home.  Passing the Kitwood footpath the scene looked lovely through the style and across the field.

Coming out of the wood I walked towards Gradwell Lane, looking north the five trees that I have photographed since the start of the year were now almost in full leaf.

While sitting in the garden in the afternoon, I finally managed to get the first swifts of the year as four flew over heading north.  Buzzards could be seen being constantly mobbed by crows as they soared away to the south over in the direction of the recreation ground.  A Hobby also put in an appearance upsetting the House Martins as it flew through, unfortunately it was much too quick to allow me the chance to get the camera.


  1. Good evening Chris,
    In answer to your query of the insect,have looked in my insect book and it is a Scorpion fly(Panorpa Germanica)..order Mecoptera, family Panorpidae. There are three species and very difficult to distinguish.They are common everywhere. As for your damselflies, the blue one is an Azure and the other a Large Red..sorry to be a bit anal! P.S How jealous and excited to see your patch tick of Ospreys..Wonderful!
    If you have been catching Springwatch, the Ospreys chicks have/are hatching in Wales. Makes you wonder where your two will end up at such a late stage. Have to say this years springwatch has been full of diversity. Not just birds,but the moles,pondlife,snakes etc... On the bird front though, the kingfishers are a delight..hope they survive! Met Charlie Hamilton James's parents on Holiday in Greece once and kept in contact..they have a love for nature that relects in him.
    All the Best

  2. Thanks for the information and correction, I am still learning with the insects, and don't have a lot of reference, I usually go on the basis if it is common and looks like it then it is more likely to be that than a rare on. On the fly, I had one in my car this evening!

    We visited the Ospreys at Cors Dyfri last May bank holiday. It is a lovely reserve and the facilities they have there are fantastic. All HD TV's streaming different views, the feed Springwatch get is from their cameras. We also went to Ynhs Hir, which really is a beautiful reserve anbd has the diversity they are showing.

    Thanks again for the comment!

  3. A pleasure. Actually Azure damselflies are just as common as the common would you believe? They are visiting our wildlife pond at the moment,along with the large red which tend to be the first to emerge in spring. Saw your pics on Wales and we are planning to visit in the not too distant future.So many places though,also fancy the Wye valley as well. Great pics by the way..as ever. Keep up the good work.


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