Thursday, 12 July 2012

11th July - Couldn't Conquer the Blue Sky

The morning had been wet, but gradually the clouds rolled back, and there was sunshine in the afternoon, but with the all too, usual, blustery wind.  We decided to go out for a walk in the evening, and set off around 5.00pm.  We headed up to Plain Farm, hopeful that this would once again deliver something.  Walking through the farm, past the barns, the Swallows were flying around the trees, and the House Sparrows singing from inside the barns.  As we came out into the fields, we came across the Hares again.  These two were feeding on the lush grass, and another could be seen away in the distance.  It was quite amazing how quickly they became aware of us, not sure if it was through those amazing ears, or they actually saw us, but you can see their concern.

Rather than run off, they sank low into the grass, flattening the head back onto the body, and flattening the ears.  You can see in this picture the large round orange eyes that serve as one of their major defence system, the others being their speed and hearing.  It really is wonderful to be able to see these animals so often, I don't think I have ever been able to watch Hares so close before, and to really appreciate them.  They have rapidly become a favourite

On the other side of the lane there was a bull with it's harem of cows, they were all lying down, but this one took a particular interest in us.  I couldn't help but think of Pat Butcher as she watched us walk by!

It was still quite windy, but out of the wind the sun, believe it or not, felt quite warm, but then it is July.  We walked off the lane and took the track close to the hedge.  The grass was quite high either side, and almost immediately we came across some butterflies.  At first they were Meadow Browns, but a orange one caught the attention, and once they settled it was clear they were Large Skippers, a first for the year.  In this summer bereft of butterflies I took the opportunity to take a few pictures, who knows we might not see many again.

These two were at first thought to be duelling, but they then became quite close so we changed our minds, and considered them to be good friends.

There was quite a bit of activity in the grass, and on the bramble, I found a scorpion fly, and there were many different bees taking advantage of the bramble flowers.  We managed to find a Five Spotted Burnet Moth, but it was not very confiding, and I only managed to get this blurred image, but again I post it here because I am not that confident I will fin another.

It was really pleasant walking in short sleeves in sunshine and the meadow area looked lovely as the sun dropped lower in the sky.  The amongst the grass there was Cow Parsley, and some Hogweed, the Hogweed growing highest.  This shows the evening sun catching the Hogweed.

As well as the skippers and the meadow browns flitting amongst the grass, we also found the first Ringlets of the year.  They appeared to be a little more determined to keep out of the wind, and would cling to the grass, but when they did come above the grass, they would disappear off with the wind.  This is a relatively common butterfly that is unmistakable when seen at rest - the rings on the hind wings giving this butterfly its common name. The upper sides are a uniform chocolate brown that distinguish this butterfly from the closely-related Meadow Brown.  The dark colouring also allows this butterfly to quickly warm up, one of the reasons why this butterfly is one of the few that flies on overcast days.

We left the meadow area, and walked around the footpath, scanning the fields for anything.  The ground was still very wet, so we climbed the style and walked back along the road.  There was even more Crane's Bill along the road side, and now I could make out the distinctive geranium like leaves.  Another plant that was flowering in the hedges was Deadly Nightshade, the small purple flowers standing out amongst the bramble and dog rose.

We walked along the road that passes by Winchester Wood.  A blackbird was calling in alarm from the wood, but we couldn't find anything to say what had upset it.  The Beech trees provide very good cover, and as we came out from beneath them we realised that it was raining.  Once again the hope of a dry sunny evening had been squashed, and we had to shelter from the shower under the trees.  Looking towards the east the rain and the sinking sun produced a double rainbow, that lit up the dark clouds over the tree tops.  These five Jackdaws flying over helped to complete the scene.

The forecast had been for a dry evening, but the shower we had encountered just goes to further emphasise the frustrating weather we are currently having, nothing seems to be able to overcome it.  We walked back along the road to the car.  Above the trees to the east quite a few Swallows and Swifts were feeding over the tops of the trees, we couldn't pause to watch them because another black cloud was looming, and looking quite threatening.

1 comment:

  1. Great pictures of the skippers. I am amazed that any butterflies have ventured forth in between the showers, not even a large or small white here.As you have noted, there is plenty of food for the blackbirds...several broods here along with many other species - so a good year for some whereas others will suffer. The burnet moth is a favourite. Off to bideford Friday in the hope of finding some emerging on the dunes at Northam Burrows as I did in their hundreds last year..what a difference a year makes?
    Your spadgers sound as bolshy and cocky as our 'chapel' They try it on with our swifts like your martins. As if they need more problems trying to survive, but then the sparrows have had it bad too in recent times. Although in my recent copy of BTO magazine they have seen a short term recovery..long may it continue.


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