Summer has returned again this week, pleasant at the start, but then becoming hot and humid towards the end of the week. In the Scots Pine by the cattle grid at the base of the footpath in Rotherfield Park, the Tree Pipit was still singing as I drove past in the week. A notable record was of 12 Mediterranean Gulls over the garden on Saturday afternoon, a garden tick!
The garden is still very busy. The Robins seem to still be feeding young, probably the third brood. The Blackbirds seem to have finished, but on the down side we found a dead juvenile in the garden. It was hard to see what could have caused the death, but a pattern on the patio window, that could, by size, have been made by a Sparrowhawk, may have had something to do with it.
The Goldfinches are now bringing their young to the feeders. It was amusing this morning to watch a young Goldfinch totally confused as to how to settle on the perches! Another family coming to the feeders has been the Bullfinches, the young birds missing the black caps for now, this is a first for the garden. As well as the Sparrowhawk, the other bird of prey has been a Red Kite seen regularly drifting over the house and garden.
One bird though seems to have an excellent year, part in fact probably to the fact that they have learnt to follow the Blackbird, and nip in and take the mealworms. They also hide in the densest part of the trees and almost always seem to be watching and immediately we appear they are about looking for food. There are at least four pairs around the houses, and this cock sparrow is just above the kitchen door. The garden is alive to chirps of these cocky little birds.
Helen and I this week had two evenings walking through Old Down, the first on Monday was without a camera, and as you would expect I almost immediately regretted it as when we entered Old Down from the Gradwell footpath, a White Admiral was flying around the sunlit Bramble flowers. Yet another butterfly that was the earliest record for the patch, this time by five days.
So when we went out on Wednesday evening I had to take the camera with me, and we took the same route, into the wood by the Gradwell entrance. This time, though no White Admiral on the bramble by the entrance, but a little further along where there was bramble in a much more open site, and in full sun, I found one, flying around at first, and then finally settling on the bramble.
Either the butterfly we saw on Monday was been subsequently damaged by a bird, or this is another one. It didn't stay long, as it was buzzed by a Longhorn beetle.
Finally it settled again on a broad leaf in the sunshine.
We saw two more as we walked through the wood, both of these along the main path towards Old Down cottage. This is good news as last year I was not able to find any in Old Down at all, and this year there is at least three, maybe four early in July.
The bramble here was very productive with, as always, many Meadow Browns, with also several Small Skippers.
For the time of day there were a lot of butterflies about, but it would seem that when it is very hot, the butterflies are not seen, as the heat of the day drops they appear and that was certainly the case this evening.
As well as the Small Skippers there were Large Skippers.
The evening sunshine throwing golden light, but also creating lovely dark backgrounds, which highlight the sun catching the wings of the butterfly.
Walking down the main pathway the butterflies were on either side of us, coming up out of the grass and from the bramble. A Small White made a nice change.
Also a male Brimstone moved from bramble flower, again the dark background highlighting the insect.
A more typical Brimstone pose.
A pair of Red Admiral circled around us, with one finally settling on the leaves.
The Brimstone continued to sit in prominent positions. This one shows the full shape of the wings like a leaf. The dark background again highlighting the delicate features of the wings.
You tend to ignore the Meadow Browns, because there are so many of them, but every so often one or two provide a lovely composition, and this was one of those occasions
More Large Skippers on the bracken.
And also a couple of Comma.
We finally left the wood and stopped at the pond to have a look. A pair of Mallard were on the water, the male now in eclipse plumage. It is quite possible this was the female that had ducklings this year, and consequently lost them.
The Moorhen were also present, two adults and the juvenile out feeding on the water.
Despite the time of day, there was an Emperor dragonfly flying in circles over the lily pads, and I found this female Large Red Damselfly on the reeds.
As we walked along Kitwood I finally found the other butterfly that should be about at this time of year, the Gatekeeper. In contrast to all the others this year, this record is late this year. Sometimes known as the Hedge Brown due to where it is normally found it is a quite pretty little brown butterfly with a nice orange pattern on the upper wings.
With all the hot, still and humid weather I thought that Thursday evening would be a good time to put the moth trap out. The result was a full trap this morning with a good mixture of interesting moths, and good numbers of the commoner moths, all proof the conditions were good.
So what was of interest, first up two green moths, this the Small Emerald.
And in contrast a Large Emerald.
Not a moth, but something I have not seen before, an Orange Ladybird. Apparently they like Sycamore, we have maple almost similar. There are sixteen white spots.
This is a new moth for the garden, but I have seen one before away from the garden, the Vapourer.
A Grey Dagger.
Last time I had a Coronet I commented on the fact that they can vary in colour, then the moth was green, today we have a grey specimen.
This moth the Early Thorn escaped the trap, but I was able to find it on the patio.
There were a lot of these, the Ribband Wave.
And similar, the Clay Triple Lines.
Like the Grey Dagger, but a little paler, and with less markings as if just dusted with flour, the Miller.
Now the more spectacular, this the Swallow-tailed Moth.
And then the hawkmoths, another Poplar Hawkmoth.
And finally for the first time this year, the Elephant Hawkmoth, so called for the caterpillar that looks remarkably like an elephant's trunk.
The adult though bares no resemblance to an elephant at all, and here in a more natural scene.
This then was my 500th post. When I started this blog back in January 2012, I never considered I would reach that number. I am also about 2,000 views from 100,000 which too in just 5 and half years is a good number. In that time I have increased the bird list to over 100, recorded 26 butterfly species and well over 100 moths. I have seen the village change, fields disappear and be replaced by houses, trees cut down and the space allowed for wild life reduced. Some species that were about frequently in 2012 have been harder to find such as the Barn Owl, and others have become more frequent like my good old friend the Tree Pipit.
So on to the next 500, I wonder what I will have achieved when we get to 1000? What I do know is that once again the village will be a very different place. Thank you to all those who have come with me on this journey, some have been all the ay and some have just found me. I hope you enjoy reading and looking at the photographs in the same way that I enjoy writing and taking the pictures.