Wednesday, 21 June 2017

20th June - And The Sun was A Demon

This was the fourth day of temperatures in excess of thirty degrees, yet another was forecast for tomorrow which would mean the hottest spell of weather since 1995.  Late afternoon I decided to walk around the Plain Farm area, there are plent5y of fields that are good for butterflies and it was a time to maybe catch up with some of the newly emerging butterfly species.

As I stepped out of the car at the bottom of the footpath at the cattle grid I was greeted with the song of a Tree Pipit high in the Scots Pine.  The last time I was here back in late April I had found a Tree Pipit here, and it would seem that it was still about.  Whether or not it had found a mate remains to be known.

From the branch it launched itself off on its display flight.

"Parachuting" down to one of the small hawthorn bushes in the field below.

With the temperature in excess of thirty degrees still it seemed to be strenuous activity in the heat, and at times it would sit with the beak open panting.

And then would burst into song.

As I watched the first Marbled Whites of the year flew past me, but rather than pursue them now I considered there would probably be more elsewhere.  I scanned the field for another mid summer specialty here, the Common Spotted Orchid, and found a group standing out from within the long grass.

I walked up the hill, and could see several Meadow Browns about, but no sign of the hoped for Marbled Whites, it wasn't until I walked down the path towards the quarry that I came across some.  I followed them as they weaved their way through the long grass stems, their journey interrupted every so often to duel with another Marbled White or even a Meadow Brown.  However not once did they stop to nectar or rest, and I was left frustrated and without a picture.

Coming down past the quarry and up towards Plain Farm a lone Buzzard was being mobbed by at first a Kestrel, which was then joined by a Crow.

The intense heat of the late afternoon seemed to be suppressing everything, and it wasn't until I walked past the workshops that I saw anything of interest, and male Pied Wagtail foraging around the feet of the two bulls in the field.

Along the path towards the Dell cottages a Yellowhammer was singing, and on the wires were a few Linnets.

I did see briefly a small orange butterfly on a bank of bramble that I think may have been a Gatekeeper but was never able to completely confirm the ID.  Along the footpath there were more Meadow Browns and both Large and Small Whites, but no sign of the sought after Marbled Whites.

At the end of the path I walked through to the wheat field, at the edge there is a large patch of ground that is not cultivated and has thistles, vetch and daisies in bloom.

The Wheat is turning golden already, if this keeps up it could be an early harvest, as ye the dry weather does not seem to have affected the yield.

The whole field looking quite impressive in the early evening sunshine

I made my way through the grass, disturbing yet more Meadow Browns but no Marbled Whites, were they not here, or had they gone to roost already, it wasn't clear.  The ones I had seen earlier, were just three days short of being my earliest for the patch, and typically when they are first about they are difficult to photograph.

A little further on I picked out a small orange butterfly, getting closer I could see it was a Large Skipper.

there were in fact quite a few about taking an interest in the thistles, this with a Small Skipper.

The light now was becoming perfect, catching this Small Skipper with the perfect bokum.

I only really explored this patch of land since last year, and then there were quite a few orchids in amongst the grass.  It was the same this year, with plenty of variations of Common Spotted Orchid about, this one is a white version but there were other deeper purple specimens.

Providing a change from the many Meadow Browns that I disturbed were one or two Small Tortoiseshells, probably just emerged.

A different view from another angle.

I walked around in the vain hope that I just might flush out a Marbled White but it wasn't to be, so I decided to make my way to Charlwood Lane and then walk back to the car.  I stopped to check the fields and flushed two Stock Doves, that flew off to the other side of the field.  A bit distant I know, but please believe me they are Stock Doves.

At the horse field I stopped to watch and listen to the Swallows.  They were perched on the overhead wires.

It is amazing how vocal these little birds are, these three were chattering away to each other as if deep in conversation.  I was totally intrigued and wondered exactly what they were communicating to each other.  Unfortunately we will never know.

As I approached the car I noticed a patch of orange on a leaf in the sunshine that turned out to be another Large Skipper.

Back at the car it was nice to be able to get into the cool of the air conditioning.  I knew that once home the house would be hot and tonight would be another one where you felt like a basted chicken in an oven!

I don't normally comment on the titles to my posts but this one today comes from the song Summer, The First Time by Bobby Goldsbro, a cheesy early seventies hit that will always remind me of hot summer days, not for the full lyrics, please believe me, but for the orchestration, the long violin note that runs though the song, epitomises the sound and feel of a hot sticky day.  the sun today was definitely a demon and was a factor in much of what I probably didn't manage to capture.

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