At last some weather to feel good about, whether it will last or not remains to be seen. It was not the case though with the moth trap. It has been a really poor spring, this time last year there were hawk moths everywhere, this year I look into the box and its empty. Not totally true though as I emptied the egg boxes out in disgust to pack it away I found this one and only Treble Lines. Sorry Treble Lines but Wow!
It would appear I am not alone the reports indicate that others are getting similar mediocre returns. I can only put it down to the cold nights, but the moths have to be there somewhere.
The sun did shine today though, and the temperature warmed up. With this in mind I decided on a lunch hour walk, and drove up to Swelling Hill. When I arrived there were several Swallows flying low over the water, not something you see all the time. A large Hornet was also flying around the area.
The iris are in full bloom, some have even gone past their best. Around the flowers and on the leaves were plenty of Azure Damselflies, the first I have seen here this year. Some were engaged in mating, making up for lost time.
I walked around the path past the sunny bank and disturbed a Grey Heron from the mud at the back of the pond. It flew off, and this seemed to be the signal for the Mallards, the two drakes and one duck to return to the water. There was also the strange sight of a Robin perched on the vegetation coming out of the water. From here it would fly off and pick insects off the surface of the water, very resourceful.
At the Iris bed close to the picnic table there were more Azure Damselflies, and a few Large Red Damselflies. This one is a male (I have a new book!)
The Iris were not only an attraction to the Damselflies Bumblebees were also taking an interest too.
Ii waited to see if there would be any dragonflies about, but in the time I had I couldn't find any. I decided then to set off to the wood. As I walked in a Large White was flying along the ride, but never stopped. The Chiffchaff was singing in its usual Oak tree, but the dominant sound was that of young Blue Tits, or tits in general.
I stopped at the large Beech tree as I could see movement along with the calls. An adult was busy moving through the branches inspecting the under side of the leaves. A young bird flew over and the adult delivered it cache.
It soon became clear that there were not only Blue Tits about, this young Coal Tit appearing in the same tree.
With the sun out, and it feeling warm I was hoping for butterflies. A smallish orange butterfly flew flew past me and had me chasing after it. It was too big for a Comma and too bright for a Speckled Wood, but it never settled and then just disappeared. Another of those "what Might Have Beens".
There were more Large Whites but that was it. I walked around to the Kitwood end where a Great Spotted Woodpecker was calling but not showing, and then back alongthe perimeter to the Kitwood path.
There was no sign of the owl, but this Wren was busy calling, and carrying food for young.
I carried on down the path and made my way back to the car, with little else to report.
Late afternoon I decided to try again, this time to see if the Deer were about as well. As I left the house a Rook flew over with something white in its bill.
Again it was very quiet along the lanes and no sign whatsoever of any butterflies. As I turned into Old Down, two Blackcaps were singing against each other one after the other. I took the diagonal path, and above me Buzzards were calling. Looking up there were three birds and there did not seem to be any attempt by either of the birds to chase anyone away, so maybe these are non breeders.
There was a reason for the diagonal path, it is always warm and sheltered here, and has plenty of dead wood for insects to warm up on. Finally I did find a cooperative butterfly, a Peacock.
They must be coming to the end of their first flying period.
From the diagonal I turned on to the perimeter in hope of seeing the deer, but there was no sign at all. I came across a pair of Great Tits, one carrying caterpillars the other just calling out and dancing around in the trees as if to distract me.
Back on the main path a Dunnock appeared on the top of the fallen branches and burst into song, I wonder how many nests this individual is supporting.
With the sun a little lower there was now a lot of shade, and also areas brightly lit by the sun. It was on one of the lit areas that I disturbed another butterfly. It was a Red Admiral, and it flew around, and even contemplated settling on my blue t-shirt before landing back on the ground in the sunshine.
I headed out to the Gradwell entrance hoping that maybe the Spotted Flycatcher was still present. As I approached I could hear a Chiffchaff calling. The call was loud and I have learnt that at this time of year these calls usually indicate that the bird is close to its nest and wants to deliver food. Sure enough I found the Chiffchaff in the Oak tree above me with a caterpillar.
I backed off and watched as it crept through the branches, still calling, but also still searching the leaves for more caterpillars.
Finally it appeared at the end of a branch.
The photograph shows the density of the leaves compared to the size of the bird, and also the fact that the caterpillars obviously like the oak leaves.
I searched for the flycatcher but there was no sign. I then headed back out across the field. Two Swallows were hawking the field, and one was sitting on the fence wire enjoying the evening sunshine.
Its definitely summer now, but it looks like we will be returning to cooler weather next week after a series of thunderstorms on Friday. Great, summer and cold weather is not the combination for good wildlife viewing so we will have to hope the sun at least keeps its hat on.