Monday, 4 July 2016

3rd July - Sunshine Almost Always Makes Me High

A brighter morning today, but not long after making that observation the dark clouds started to roll in again, and there was the threat of showers around the area.

It had been clear and dry over night so i tried the moth trap once again, but as with all the other nights the return was very poor, nothing of interest, mostly all Hebrew Characters.  I cannot explain the reasons for this turn around, the garden is probably more insect friendly than it ever has been yet the moths stay away.

The feeders were again very busy, and also there was constant movement in the Amelanchier trees as the Blackbirds looked to eat the small berries that were now forming.



Our "fluffy" Blackbird taking advantage of the berries.  

There has been a constant arrival of young Blue Tits, having learnt that the feeders are a good and easy source of food.  They have also quickly learnt how to hold the seeds on the branch as they peck at it.



Sitting quietly and watching there was constant movement, this Dunnock appearing form within the branches.  



The Nuthatch was back, but avoided the camera, this time not only visiting the feeders, but having a drink, and a look at the mealworm tray.  A male Bullfinch also put in an appearance when I didn't have the camera ready.  I did have the camera though when a lovely male Siskin appeared on the bird bath for a drink.



And then up to the feeders for a meal for two!



There have been a male and female coming to the garden frequently for the last few months, the first time I have had them as summer visitors, it is lovely to see them here.

We have bought some live Meal worms, just last last year, and these supplement the feeding for several of the birds in the garden.  The House Sparrows are the most adventurous, coming down, filling the beaks and flying off to the nest.  I think there are two pairs involved as they fly off in different directions.  One is a female and the other a male, and it is as if they are the only ones to have found them, and haven't told their partner.

Fluffy the Blackbird likes the worms, but doesn't like the tray, and approaches with caution, waiting for the worms that have escaped the tray to appear.



The Robin though is straight in, it will sit on the fence watching as you fill the tray, and then is down to fill up and then carry off to a probable nest in the conifer hedge of the neighbours.



We still have plenty of Woodpigeons visiting the garden. when you walk down the steps you disturb them, and they crash out of the bushes and just about make it up and over the fence or house.  In contrast to these big clumsy pigeons it is nice to see the Collared Doves, they will only come into the garden when the Woodpigeons aren't there, so usually sit in the conifers close by.



We spent lunch out, and when we came back in the late afternoon, the skies had cleared and the sun was quite warm.  I decided to try my luck around Plain Farm, I hoped that I could catch up with some of the butterflies I had yet to find on the patch.

Parking at the bottom of the path leading up to the farm I could just make out a patch of Common Spotted Orchids in the grass on the bank of the plantation.



I walked up the hill with the song of a Yellowhammer in the distance, and once across the cattle grid i came across brown butterflies in the long grass.  At first I suspected that they were Meadow Brown, but a closer look at one revealed it to be the first Ringlet of the year.



A little further on and i came across the butterfly I was hoping to find, a Marbled White.  There were at least six and I flushed them from the grass on the path in front of me, they then flew into the long grass where they settled on the grass stems in the sunshine.



I walked down past the quarry, disturbing Meadow Browns, and then out across the road and up the lane towards the workshops.  Above Swallows chattered away, and from the top of the distant hedges several Yellowhammer delivered their familiar song.

Beyond the Oak tree in the field a Red Kite soared, twisting and turning as it covered the field looking for anything worthwhile.



I waited in the hope that it would drift back towards me, but it stayed away for once, and headed off towards the far trees.

Coming past the cottages a Whitethroat sang form the wires over the hedge, bursting into the sky, and then dropping out of sight into the hedge.  A Blackbird and Song Thrush were also in song from the poles as i walked along the lane.  I checked the long grass for butterflies but there was very little to be found.  I remember the first time I came here in 2012, and found many skipper s here, since then they seemed to have just disappeared.

At the copse at the end of the lane, there were about fifty young Rooks sitting in the dead tree.  For the first six months the young Rooks lack the bare white patch at the base of their bill which makes them instantly recognisable, so you have to look carefully to distinguish between a young Rook and a Crow at this time of year, if, obviously you feel the need!



I walked down the footpath away from the cottages towards Charlwood, on the sunlit side the hedge was covered in flowering Dog Rose, and this attracted many bees and Meadow Brown butterflies, looking closely though the darker butterflies were Ringlets once again.



Finding good butterfly meadows has been difficult this year, it seems they have either been ploughed or the grass cut leaving no wild flowers.  At the bottom of the path just around from the fallen tree there is a patch of long grass that is punctuated with daisies thistles.  The grass was long, well above my waist and as I walked through it I disturbed more Meadow Browns and half a dozen Marbled Whites, both were not going to settle for me, so I continued wading through the grass.  Eventually I found what I was looking for, a Large Skipper sitting and nectaring on a clover flower.



As it manoeuvred its way around the flower I was able to get a better view not obscured by stems of grass.



As well as the skipper I had hoped to find a Common Blue. but there was no sign of them, or any other butterflies other than the Meadow Browns.  I finally managed to get one to stay still down in the grass.



Leaving the meadow, I hoped that it would not be cut, and if that was the case then there was still a chance for Small Copper and Blue butterflies here later in the month.  I crossed the field and picked up the footpath that crosses the fields towards the road, as i went I waded once again through the long grass and daisies by the edge in the hope of flushing more butterflies, but to no avail.

As I reached the edge of the small copse though I did find a rather showy Small Tortoiseshell that was happy to settle on the baked mud to warm up.



The first part of the path was left to thistles and ragwort, with wheat and barley growing in amongst them.  This is clearly being left for the autumn seeds, that will be allowed to fall to the ground as food for the game birds, but hopefully the smaller birds like Linnet, Yellowhammer, and who knows maybe Reed Bunting, and if we were to be really lucky Corn Bunting.

Once again the area was devoid of butterflies, the thistles were just beginning to flower, and these were attracting the bumblebees and Carder bees.  This is a Red-tailed Bumblebee.



The path then passes through a field of wheat, and on the edge one bright red Poppy was flowering, the petals like tissue paper, catching the late afternoon sunshine and rustling in the breeze.



As I returned to the car I could hear the Yellowhammer once again, high above me in the conifer tree just above the cattle grid.  I headed home through Lye Way farm, passing fields of young Rooks and Jackdaws, and more Yellowhammers on the wires.  Not a bad weekend, I managed to get Swift which is always a challenge, and picked up three butterfly year ticks.  The weather behaved today, and it felt more like summer, lets hope it can continue

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