Wednesday, 21 August 2013

20th August - The Story of the Blues

It has been a while since I have been out around the patch, we have been away once again this time to Namibia, more of which will be posted soon.  It would appear that my House martins have been successful in raising their brood, Monday morning there were at least a dozen House Martins flying around the close, and going up to the nest, usually a sign that the youngsters have gone.  We shall now wait and see if they attempt another brood before heading off for the winter.  I put the moth trap out Sunday night, but was a little disappointed with the results, I will try again later this week. 

This evening I decided to set out for a walk around the woods and lanes, it was still warm, and the sun was quite pleasant.  The first thing I noticed was the amount of berries on the Rowan trees.  Since we have been away they seem to have just suddenly emerged.  You can guarantee though there will not be a Waxwing invasion this year, still the thrushes should make short work of them come the first cold snap.


As I walked around Lymington Rise there were a lot of butterflies on the Buddleia, they were mostly whites, but this pair of Peacocks were a nice composition.


I headed up Brislands and was debating whether to check the new development land, the planning notice is now up on the lamp posts, so I would imagine that they have managed to clear the plot of reptiles, and i wondered what other life might remain, I could see there was plenty of ragweed, and the thistles had gone to seed.  I decided it would be worth a look, and I am glad I did.

At the entrance there was a Speckled Wood butterfly, and plenty of bees.  The blackberries are starting to ripen, and were gaining the attention of a few wasps.


A flash of orange caught my eye, and a Comma settled on the bramble, it is now beginning to look a little worn out.


I made my way into the main field and scanned around, their were thistle seeds floating about, and mixed in with them were a few white butterflies, mostly Large.  On a clump of ragweed I found a few Cinnabar Moth caterpillars.  As I focused on one to photograph, this fly dropped on to the flower head in front of it.  I have tried to identify it without any luck.


At last I found a different butterfly from the whites, it was a small Tortoiseshell, and it looked lovely against the cream buff background of the grasses.


A small butterfly they fluttered past me, and this one was blue.  The only blue I have seen in the village has been Holly Blue, but this was totally the wrong place for them.  As I approached the settled insect, I could see that it was my first Common Blue for the patch, and it even obliged with a lovely pose with the wings wide open.


As I watched it another flew past and they flew up duelling, I then saw another two, one of which was definitely a female as it had the darker upper wing.  It settled on a thistle, and I managed to get a nice close up picture.


Just before we went away I found the first Small Copper, as always seems to be the case, when you find the first they just seem to come along like London buses!  As I watched the blue, one landed close by amongst the yellow flowers, it looked stunning.


The large numbers of Meadow Browns were gone now, but a few still hung about.  This pair were busy doing what comes naturally.


As I had said earlier, I was glad that I didn't decide to walk on by, the field had produced ten species of butterfly, one of which was a new one for me, and another that I had only seen once before.  What a shame that next year they will not be here, we are slowly running out of suitable butterfly fields around here.  The meadow is either cut too early for hay, or the fields are being turned over to development.

I walked along Brislands towards the wood.  There were still butterflies about, mostly Large and Green-veined Whites with the odd small white, but as I approached the footpath entrance I noticed a small pale orange butterfly on the bracken.  I got closer and could see it was a Small Heath, but as I tried to photograph it was off and away over the field.  Another new butterfly for the patch, it has been quite a special year with three new ones, and who would have thought when earlier in the year I was lamenting the numbers of butterflies about!

I walked into the wood, and instantly found Green-veined Whites where the sun made it through onto the bramble and nettles.  This one contrasted nicely with the dark greens of the leaves.


A little further on a single female was attracting the attentions of a pair of males.  She sat still on the leaf while the two males duelled around in their efforts to mate with her.  It was quite frenzied and the action doesn't come across well in the picture.


I decided to walk around the wood in the sunshine in the hope that maybe there would be some more butterflies.  I was also keen to see if the was any significant hirundine movement over the fields.  The latter proved very disappointing with no sign of any swallows or martins, but the butterflies continued to entertain.  There are a few buddliea trees on the edge of the wood, and they are now in full flower, and once again they were covered in insects.  Of the butterflies they were mainly whites and Peacocks, but this Tortoiseshell joined one Peacock on a flower head.


As I walked I would disturb Peacocks from the dry soil, and I would also see more Tortoiseshells flying over the ripe Barley.  The field looks ready for harvest, although the barley doesn't seem to be as high as in previous years.  This time last year the harvest had been completed, but that may well have been due to the farmer picking a dry day and just doing it.  This year it has been better weather at the end of the summer, and looks to stay fair for the next week.


I walked to the style and looked across the paddocks.  Birds have been very quiet.  As I walked around the wood I could hear the calls of tits, and a buzzard called away in the distance, but that was it.  As I looked across the paddocks though a Kestrel flew up from the ground and up into the distant tree.


I headed back into the wood, it was quite dark and very quiet.  The floor of the wood is now clear of any plant life, ave for the orange berries of the Lords and Ladies.  Different from the footpath, the pockets of sunshine were not attracting the butterflies, so I made my way quickly to the main track, and headed for the Swelling Hill exit.  Just past the large Beech tree I noticed an orange butterfly, at first I thought it was another Comma, but the flight was different.  As I got closer I could see it wasn't a Comma, and that in fact it was a Silver-washed Fritillary, could today get any better? (just wait).

It was away off from me, and it was dark, so this was the best record I could get.  Not a new butterfly as I saw them last year, but the first this year, and quite late too, both in the year and the time of day.


I left the wood, and headed to the pond.  Two Emperor Dragonflies passed by me at the thatched cottage, probably emerged from their large pond.  As i approached the pond I could see that the Moorhens had once again successfully raised young, and that they were still extremely shy.  I managed to get this picture before, as normal, they shot of into the small dark pond by the main one!


As I left the pond a Gatekeeper flew past me bring the total number of butterfly species for the walk to thirteen.  I checked the small paddock at Kitwood where there were three small heffers, the flowers were past their best, and there were no butterflies.  I walked across the field and into Old Down Wood again.  There was a little bit more bird call, mostly though associated with a singing Robin, a sign of the changing seasons.

Morris seems to have moved roost site, so when the leaves fall I will have to start searching for him.  As I crossed the field towards Gradwell one or two Swallows could be heard, but these were resident birds, and not a movement.

I turned onto Gradwell, and paused to watch what I thought must be a family of Robins on the gate by the field.  A bird flew up from the manure pile, and into an oak tree on the edge of the copse, that was in the sun.  I quickly picked it up with the binoculars, a Spotted Flycatcher, but as I raised the camera to get a picture it didn't work.  The battery pack had worked loose, and by the time I had it tightened up it was gone, and I couldn't relocate it.  I waited, but other than seeing the robins again, and a Blue Tit it didn't return.  Still the first for the year, and another area worth checking for them through the autumn, the manure pile clearly being an attraction.

As I came down Brislands towards Lymington Bottom I noticed the sign post in lovely light with a nice contrasting background.  I have often looked at this and thought I should photograph that, so tonight I did!


Some things have changed since we have been away, but we still await the full harvesting, and the butterflies are still here.  It has been quite a walk this evening, two new butterflies and a first for the year, and a year tick in the form of the spotted flycatcher.  I must admit to being as excited about them as some of things we saw in Namibia, but maybe not all!






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