Saturday, 6 July 2013

6th July - Like Seven Inches From The Midday Sun

A mixed week, it started off ok, went bad in the middle and then looked up towards the weekend.  The highlight of the week from a wildlife perspective was a Siskin flying over the garden on Friday morning. 

It was going to be hot today, and that hopefully meant that there would be some butterflies about.  I set off to walk around the grassy areas first, and then come back through the woods.  As I walked out of the house I noticed some activity around the House Martin nest.  Looking up I could see two little heads looking down at me.


Not sure what they were doing, but another Martin kept flying up to the entrance as if to get them out.

I walked up Reads Field, and then along the back path.  Yesterday I had noticed that one of the trees was covered in blossom, and there was a lovely noise of bees.  I stopped and could see it was covered in mostly White-tailed Bumble Bees.


I carried on, and walked towards Blackberry Lane, then took the footpath towards Alton Lane.  Coming out at the bottom I took the chance to look at the orchids in the field.  There doesn't seem to be any more than there was last week.  I wanted to get a different perspective, to show the flowers in the surrounding grass., I think this does it.


The side of the field is lined with Foxgloves, and of course these are a great attraction to the bees.  The bells of the flowers look very impressive from below.


I walked past the garden centre, and headed towards the fields.  The sign said beware of the bull, and this week it was quite close.  It was eating grass, and seemed quite occupied with that, so  I decided to walk through to the next gate.  It didn't stop what it was doing, but the cows and their calves were a little more inquisitive.

I crossed Willis, and walked around to the bank of nettles where last week there were plenty of insects.  This week I could only find a single Red Admiral.  In the filed there were several Meadow Browns flitting about amongst the tall grasses.

At the bottom of the path near the road, there was a family party of Jays.  There were five in total, but three flew off, leaving these two watching the long grass very closely.


They were after the insects in the cut grass, and both dropped down into the grass, then flew off to find the rest of the family.

I crossed the road and took the footpath through the wood, and then out by the side of the field.  Looking back you can see the line of pylons.  I took a picture of this view last autumn, with the trees in full colour.  Today you can see the lush green of summer foliage as the pylons disappear away into the distance.


As I stood taking the picture two buck Roe Deer broke out of the wood by the side of me and raced across the field.  I didn't go into the beech wood, but walked up the side on the path.  There were several Meadow Browns, but they were very mobile, and a few very tatty looking Speckled Woods.  I did though find the firs Large Skipper of the day.


I walked across the field, and then headed down the lane towards the Newtown Plantation.  As I walked along I could hear a Great Spotted Woodpecker calling.  I scanned the trees but couldn't see it, then as I came out into a clearing I found it in a very unlikely place, perched on the electricity wire running between the pylons.


There was quite a bit of bird song around here, I could hear Garden Warbler, and Bullfinch, There was also a Chiffchaff singing, and I was amazed again to find it singing from the wire on the other side of the road.


A Little further on I heard a Willow Warbler singing, the first for some time, I think they may nest in the Maryanne Plantation as I heard them singing in the same area this time last year.

I walked down the lane, and then turned towards Plash Wood.  The fields and farm building were covered in Rooks and Jackdaws, they seemed to be everywhere.  This group were alongside a field that had many on the ground too.


Before I went into the wood, I checked the fields for deer but here wasn't any, but at last this Red Admiral settled long enough for me to be able to get a photograph.


There have been a lot more butterflies today, but with it being warm they are also very mobile and difficult to photograph.  I walked into the wood, and there was a Bullfinch singing.  This was now the sixth bird I had heard on the walk, which probably means there is a pair, and that they have either nested or are nesting.  They do very well around here, and in total for the day I heard and saw 13 birds, which is probably 13 pairs.

I hoped that the Firecrests may show today, and hopefully with better light I could get some better pictures.  As I came around the corner towards the main ride I heard one singing.  I stopped an waited, and was given some very brief views as a pair flew around at the top of the trees.  There were also a family group of Nuthatches about, and several Blue Tits, but finally one of the Firecrests settled long enough for me to get a shot.  It stayed deep in the tree, and this I am afraid is no better, but again you can see it is a Firecrest, and I think it is the male.


I abandoned the quest and walked on down the ride.  There were plenty of Meadow Browns here too, and also quite a few fresh looking Small Tortoiseshells.  I walked down the road, and then back up the other side through the grass.  As I walked I disturbed small white moths, that I could find once they landed, I think they were a type of Wave.

At the top of the hill, the footpath goes through land that has been left to flowers and grasses.  It was of attraction to Large Skippers, and this one had taken a liking to the nettles that were coming into flower.


I noticed a hole just by the path, and looking closer I could see Bumble Bees by the entrance.


Looking closer into the hole, I could see that it was full of Bumble Bees, White-tailed Ithink.


The small pond by the road at the top of the path looked a mess so I didn't stay long, and headed off towards the quarry.  As I walked along the path through the long grass I disturbed a deer from close to the path, and it shot off towards the wood.  It was quite small with no spots, so I think it must have been a Muntjac, I have seen them here before. 

I scanned the grasses and was rewarded with the first Marbled White butterfly of the year, but it didn't stop, just kept on going.  On the path there were plenty of Meadow Browns, and Tortoiseshells, and finally one stayed long enough for a photograph.


Just before the turn to the quarry I noticed a stinging nettle covered in caterpillars.  At the time I didn't know what they were, but looking them up at home, I am convinced they are Peacock caterpillars, apparently they are gregarious at first, and are normally found on nettles.


There were a lot of bird calls from the larches by the side of the path, and they seemed to belong to both Blue and Great Tit fledglings.  This Blue Tit was still being fed by the adult.


I stopped for a drink and something to eat in the quarry, then headed off towards Plain Farm.  The swallows were very active around the grain hoppers, but some just needed to take the time to have a good stretch!


More Swallows were flying around the filed as I walked up towards the cottages.  Other than Meadow Browns there were no other butterflies in the grass banks.  Lapwing were flying around the field to the east, and a Whitethroat sang from the hedge.  I walked through to the field on the west of the path, and then walked along the side of the field.  As I walked a weasel shot out of the rape, stopped, and then carried on into the hedge.  I haven't seen one for ages, and unfortunately this one obviously was on a mission, and I didn't get the chance for a picture.

Small and Green-veined Whites could be seen over the yellow rape flowers, and another Marbled White flew past me.  I walked on, and came out on the path towards Charlwood.  The hedge along the side of the path was covered in Dog Roses, and these were an attraction to Bumble Bees, and other insects.  This one is a type of Wasp Beetle known as Strangalia maculata, but that is all I can find out about it.  It looks very striking with the yellow and black thorax, and wing cases.


Two Whitethroat sang along the path, and there was also Chiffchaff, and Bullfinch.  In the distance I could hear Yellowhammer.  At the end of the path near the field, a dark butterfly flew past me.  It never stopped, but I know this was a Ringlet.  As I walked on further another three flew around me, neither of them pausing to allow a picture.  Due to the colour, the Ringlet can warm up quite quickly, and today they seemed super charged.

The walk down Charlwood, and along Ly Way was very quiet.  The sun was very hot now, and everything had quietened down.  I headed off in the direction of Andrews Lane, and walked down the tunnel.  As I came out by the Larch trees I could see the field was covered in butterflies, but they were all Meadow Browns.  I did though manage to get a photograph at last, as a Bramble bush was proving irresistible to them.


As I scanned the filed of butterflies I noticed one blue flower amongst the grasses, this is Devil's-bit Scabius, something I haven't seen on the patch before.


I walked up through the paddocks to Old Down, and then walked along the main paths in the hope of butterflies, there were some, but they were either Meadow Browns or Speckled Woods.  At first the birds were very quiet, but as I reached the Kitwood entrance there was a lot of call, mostly from young Coal Tits. 

I came out of the wood at the Gradwell entrance and walked back towards home.  There haven't been the fields of Poppies locally like last year so far, but I had seen the odd Poppy as I walked today.  This one though was in amongst the Scentless Mayweed, and looked quite striking.


There was nothing more of note as I headed back down Brislands, however once I was home and downloading the pictures and writing this post, I heard the shrieking screams of Swifts outside, something I can't recall hearing around here for sometime.  As I looked out of the window a pair flew around the house opposite.  I am really being spoilt for Swifts this year.

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