Friday, 25 July 2014

25th July - Following In Footsteps Overgrown With Moss

Another humid overcast start which was perfect for the moths overnight.  I will pull all the latest moth news together in a separate post over the next few days, there have been a lot of new moths and they deserve their own attention.

As I sat in my office on the telephone this morning I could hear quite a bit of a commotion going on with the House Martins outside, and I guessed that they might be starting to fledge.  After finishing my call I went outside to have a look and sure enough they seemed to be trying to get the young out.  There was a lot of different calls going on, and birds flying up to the nest and actually going inside.  You could see at least two birds looking out.

As well as going into the nest they would also settle on the wall, and call loudly to the nest.  I think this one is one of the fledged birds, as the feathers look very clean.

Things then moved on, birds would fly in and out of the nest, and it seemed as if they were looking to push them out.  At one time I counted four birds leaving, but there was still one in there.  Then I think the young birds flew up to the nest, and one actually settled on the back of another as they called to the bird in the nest.

It was quite mad, with birds flying around chattering and then all fying up to the nest and dropping away.

Then suddenly it went quiet, and it seemed as if all the birds were gone from the nest, but later on when I went out I could still hear calls from the nest, and birds flying up as if to feed the calls.

Thunderstorms were forecast for the afternoon so I decided to set off at lunchtime to see what was about at the pond and in Old Down.  As I got out of the car at the pond a juvenile Blackbird was feeding on the newly cut grass.

I walked a little way around the pond, Azure Damselflies were still around in good numbers, and there were plenty of Gatekeepers on the sunny bank.  Over the pond itself two Emperor Dragonflies were hawking over the lily pads.

I left the pond and walked to the wood.  As I came through the entrance I disturbed quite a few butterflies.  The number of whites has increased over the last few days, and I managed to find this Green-veined White, even though it seemed determined to hide from me.

There were quite a few Small Whites too, a butterfly I have not seen that much of this year, in fact I think this is the first photograph.

Just as was the case on Tuesday there were plenty of Peacocks and Red Admirals.  The Peacocks looking splendid in the sunshine.

The Red Admirals too!

Then I found two butterflies that I have not seen in the wood before, first it was a Common Blue, flitting about in between the grass.

The other was a Marbled White, not something you expect to find in a wood, but I would imagine this one has come from the open fields, attracted by the open rides.  It also looks quite tatty, and therefore old.

The brambles were the attraction for the butterflies, and there were plenty of Meadow Browns, but every so often there would be a Gatekeeper.  You can see it looks like we will have another bumper blackberry autumn.

Another surprise for the time of year and not because it is unusual here in Old Down was a Brimstone.  It hangs there looking just like a leaf.

I walked around to the crossroads, and then headed west along the main path.  There were more Meadow Browns on the bramble, and whites flying around.  The wood was very quiet, so it was not that difficult to locate a calling Wren in the trees.  I am not sure what had upset it, maybe it was me, but it was clearly annoyed at something.

I walked along the diagonal footpath, hoping that the open area could produce something.  A Peacock flew through, and I managed to find this Essex Skipper in the grass.

I turned back towards the cross roads, then turned off to wards the Kitwood path.  As I turned onto the path I disturbed a young male Roe Deer from the grass.  It shot up, but did not go to far, and stood and watched me.

This time of year is the Roe Deer rutting season, and I had been told that if you make a squeaking sound the male becomes interested as he thinks its a doe.  I tried, and immediately the male lifted its head and started to lick the air.  I stopped then, the last thing I needed was amorous Roe Deer.

I was now walking along the path where there had been White Admirals earlier in the month.  But despite extensive looking all I could find was this Speckled Wood.

As I stood scanning the brambles I noticed a large butterfly settle onthe sweet chestnut leaves above.  All I could see was the shadow and tip of the wing, it was orange though.  Eventually it came down to the bramble, a Silver-washed Fritillary.

It flew off, but a little further along the path I came across another two.  These  though were flying low to the ground and settling for awhile before repeating the action.  They lay their eggs in tree bark, but this wasn't what they were settling on, so it was difficult to know why they were doing this.

I came out of the wood and walked through the barley field.  It looks now like it is ready for harvest.

As I walked along the path I flushed a Skylark, and then as the path became more open I saw a butterfly on the ground.  I knew immediately what it was, a Grayling, but a is the case with these butterflies it was off and away over the barley, a shame because it is a new one for the patch and I would have liked a photograph.

In the flower paddock there were more butterflies, plenty of Common Blues, and loads of Meadow Browns.  A few skippers were zipping about and this Small Skipper settled nicely.

Walking along Kitwood Lane I came across a Small Tortoiseshell which was the 17th butterfly for the day. 

I walked on to the pond, and went to see if the dragonflies were about, as I did I disturbed a juvenile Grey Heron that was in the water close to the bank, it flew up and across the pond then turned back and flew past me.

The dragonflies were still there, fighting each other for the best spot.  Only a short walk, but extremely productive.  Now for those thunderstorms.

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