Chiffchaff and Willow Warbler identification is a challenge at the best of times and here you can see the main differences, the dark legs stand out clearly, and the primary projections are short, but also the primary tips are evenly spaced.
It didn't stay long, but was enough for me to want to get out around lunch time. When I did manage to get out I walked from the pond, the skies still a whitish grey, and no wind to speak of. Several White butterflies flew past me, and I could hear Bullfinch in the bushes, and away into the wood the call of what I assumed was a juvenile Kestrel.
As I walked into the wood I was struck by the silence, and the stillness, nothing seemed to be moved, all the trees and bushes were becalmed.
The path wound past the tall thistles that were now well past their best, but what small flower heads remained were an attraction to the Carder Bees still.
And on the stems the patterned whorls of the Yellow lipped Snails stood out amongst the fading green of the stems.
Walking along the path I disturbed 3 Speckled Wood butterflies, one settled on a leaf allowing me to view it from a different perspective, producing a cross eyed view.
Walking further into the wood it became clear that there were a lot of Speckled Woods about, and most of them were in prime condition, and looking to duel with any one of them that came too close. You could see them spiralling upwards in a dance before one would break off and fly away. I counted over twenty individuals, and that was probably an under estimate, the condition while not full sun, appeared ideal for them.
At the crossroads I headed west to the ash trees, and stopped to look out over the fields, again I could hear Kestrels calling but couldn't see them.
I turned back flushing more Speckled Woods, but these were probably the same ones that I had seen earlier. There were also a few whites, mainly Large but these didn't want to stop for me.
I headed back to the pond, and walked around the edge, as I did so finally the sun broke through, and almost instantly things began to happen. A southern Hawker dragonfly came off the bush, it must have just been sitting there all the time I was there, then a Red Admiral flew across the pond and settled in the Beech tree above me.
I was then buzzed by a smaller dragonfly that eventually, after duelling with another settled on the grass. A male Common Darter, the first of the year.
From the leaf it flew around before settling on the dried out grass.
The sun wasn't out for too long, and I waited to see if the hawker would return, but it was probably settled somewhere else once again.
As I hadn't been around the patch for a while, and the best chance of finding a migrant Wheatear or Whinchat would be around the fields and hedgerows, I decided to drive around Lye Way, and down to Plain Farm. First stop was the entrance to the fields on Lye Way. As I scanned over the green sprouting field I heard the call of a Raven, and looked up to see it at the top of the nearest pylon.
After a series of loud "gronks" it was off over the field and away towards Charlwood.
On a pile of rubble and chalk waste put close to the road to stop any one using or driving on the verge, a small Buddleia was growing, and had a few flower heads that were attracting a Large White butterfly.
I continued the drive around the lanes, but didn't come across anything of major interest, at the Lye Way bridleway on the overhead wires were three Mistle Thrush, the first for awhile, and along Hawthorn Lane I disturbed several Yellowhammers.
Back home it was the Buddleia once again that was busy in the garden, the sun was now out, and along with the constant movement of bumble bees a lovely Small Tortoiseshell was busy on the flower heads.
Again the brick wall providing the perfect background.
It has been reported as a being a difficult year for Small Tortoiseshell butterflies, but the second brood seems to have been more successful.
A little later two Small Tortoiseshells were joined by a Peacock.
And then came along a Red Admiral.
Again the lovely orange background.
Two Large White butterflies then came in to nectar.
But the stars today were the Small Tortoiseshells and as the afternoon sun began to sink the light became so much better, against the blue sky.
Beautiful colours and patterns
But possible better against the orange background and the dappled light.
The calm conditions didn't deliver anything unusual or of interest, but there will always be something that attracts the eye, and as the cloud burnt away, the insects and butterflies came out to play, today despite being becalmed the Buddleia delivered.