Thursday, 17 April 2014

17th April - The World is a Vampire

I put the moth trap out last night.  There was not much activity but these two were new.  This I think is a a dark Clouded Drab.



And this one I can't identify  I have now, it is a Waved Umbar



The forecast for Thursday was for it to turn overcast through the day.  I was keen to see if I could find butterflies while the weather was sunny so I set off at lunch time when the sun was still out and it was warm.

As I walked along Lymington Bottom I noticed three small birds overhead.  At first I thought they were Swallows, but a closer look revealed them to be Sand Martins, another year tick.

As I walked up Brislands I had to avoid the construction trucks that are now frequently moving in and out of the building site.  A little further along I heard my first Blackcap song over the sound of the diggers and trucks.  I managed to see the Blackcap, but it managed to dodge the camera.

I turned into Gradwell, and paused to watch the Swallows flying around the fields.  I walked towards the wood, crossing the field, and then in by the gate.  I was greeted by Chiffchaffs and Robin's singing all around me, and every so often I could hear the burst of song from a Wren.  The rides are much more open, and bright, and a Small White passed me, not stopping.  I then flushed an orange butterfly that settled down again to show it was a Comma.  You can see the white comma sign on the under wing.



Butterflies were everywhere, and the majority were Peacocks.  This one on a Bluebell for me is a lovely sign of spring.



Another Blackcap was singing, and this time I did manage to find the bird, and it stayed in one place sufficiently for me to get a picture as it emerged from the holly.



I carried on along the path to the crossroads, and walked on across the path to the west.  The Bluebells are out, but in patches here as a result of the winter work.  Again as with the Bluebells are saw on Tuesday they are about 50% out, but still provide a wonderful show.



A Small White appeared from the brambles, and this time it settled on the wood chippings on the floor.  I could only get this one shot as when I walked closer it was off.



With all the wood around the smell and feel of the air is of warmth.  Dead wood holds the heat while the sun is out and is an attraction to the insects and butterflies, and who knows maybe reptiles too.

The fallen trees and branches are proving a bonus to one bird.  The Wren could be seen and heard everywhere, darting into the undergrowth and perching at the top of the branches to proclaim its territory through its loud song.



I made my way back to the crossroads and headed towards Swellinghill.  The cleared area to the west of the path has been planted with saplings, and the area is now covered with the protective plastic tubes.



Looking inside the tubes I could identify oak and hazel saplings, all mixed up with the majority being hazel.  There were also a few that I couldn't be sure what they were as there are no leaves yet.

As I came out of the wood past the cottage am Orange Tip flew past me, again not stopping.  I walked down the the pond where the banks were all bathed in the mid day sunshine.  The only butterflies I saw though were a Peacock and another Comma.  On the far bank a pair of Moorhen were engaged in a mock fight, where they would run at each other, and then break off.  So engaged in this they were they didn't seem to be bothered buy my presence which is unusual as they normally bolt for the back pool when I so much as lift the camera.



When I turned to leave the pond I noticed that the Peacock butterfly was nectaring on the laurel flowers.  I was able to get below it to get this different view of a lovely butterfly.



A Chiffchaff sang as I left and it gave me a fleeting chance at a picture.  So far this year they have not been that confiding.  I hope one poses nicely before the leaves are fully out.



I walked along the side of the field in the hope that I could disturb some butterflies in the sunshine.  The hunch was good as I quickly found this Small Tortoiseshell on a Dandelion.



As I walked on I saw yet another Orange Tip flying towards me.  As it came close it was accosted by a Small White, and they flew up in a duel.  I thought that was it, but the clash must have taken the effort out of the Orange Tip, as it came back down, and settled on its favourite flower, the Cuckoo Flower.



This is probably my favourite butterfly for a combination of reasons, the delicate orange tips fringed with green, the feisty nature they show when two meet, and above all the fact that it says, spring is here!

I walked back into he wood, and along the main path towards the Brislands exit.  Blue Tits were in pairs and feeding on the buds of the trees.  Studies have shown that the male Blue Tits with a brighter yellow bellies are more successful in getting a mate.  This pair both had quite dull breasts and bellies, but they seemed quite happy together.



The Beech trees are showing the first leaves, and in amongst them are the you birches.  Against the dark background and the sunshine the leaves look so delicate.



I walked down Brislands watching a lot of Peacocks and Tortoiseshells on the Dandelions in the roadside verge.  As I reached the houses a Nuthatch sang above me in an Ash Tree.  I watched and listened and then finally it revealed itself.  It was feeding as it sang, and went through all sorts of contortions to peck amongst the lichen.



It amazing how they can hang from the branches.



As I walked past the rhododendrons I heard a Firecrest sing, this was quite pleasing as on the last two visits I have neither heard or seen them.  I left it singing.

 Magpies were calling from the garden to the left, but as they flew off this Jay appeared briefly in the small tree.



The bird song today has been dominated by that of the Blackcap and the Chiffchaff.  The latter could be heard again, but this time in a small cherry tree close to the lane, and not high up.  At last a good picture of a 2014 Chiffchaff.



By now the sunshine was becoming watery, the cold front was approaching, its a shame it didn't go through overnight because it may have brought down some good migrants.  However today has been very nice, and I was able to get some nice spring photographs.

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