Sunday, 14 January 2018

Baby Wall.

As I had to stay local today I decided to do some scrub clearance on the patch. With so many small bushes trying to take over that will destroy breeding areas of many rare butterflies and moths I try to spend some time each year to keep it manageable. During a short break I went hunting for Wall Brown larva. I had found 2 on Friday, and one of those I located again as it was sitting on a grass blade.



A young Wall Brown larva. (Just over 1 cm long).



Wednesday, 3 January 2018

A Little Tweak!!

With a nasty dose of 'Man Flu' at the moment I have had the rare opportunity of going over some of my older forgotten photos. When I do this I suddenly remember some great days spent in the field and also start to wonder why I didn't delete half of the images. Having said that, quite a few of the pictures that I wasn't particularly pleased with I have managed with a little tweaking to give them a new life. Most of this has just been a slight change of colour balance, or re-cropping. Some of the rescued images I thought I would share.



Female Chalkhill Blue.



Male Chalkhill Blue.



Grayling.



Male Keeled Skimmer.



Male Small Red-eyed Damselfly.



Male Chalkhill Blue.



Red-veined Darter.



Female Emerald Damselfly.



A newly emerged male Beautiful Demoiselle.



Monday, 1 January 2018

White Admirals.

One of the reasons why I was so pleased to be able to show Nigel the Small Eggar larva, (see previous post) was that around the same time he had found some fully grown White Admiral larva in his own woodland that he was good enough to show to me. A few days later, he invited me back again as the larva had by now turned into pupa. I've only seen these strange larva when they have been much younger so it was a real treat to see them fully grown. Despite the tremendous camouflage that both stages have it seems that the local bird population still found them with all but one, of the 4 making it through to adult butterfly. I've also included a couple of images after the immature stages of  adult butterflies photographed sometime ago. The immature stages are all in heavy shaded areas and being higher off the ground than I am it was a case of standing, and trying to balance on an old log.

My thanks to Nigel for the invite to see these spectacular larva and pupa.



White Admiral larva. (Fully grown).



White Admiral pupa under a Honeysuckle leaf.



Adult White Admiral from 2011.



White Admiral underside from 2016.



Thursday, 28 December 2017

Small Eggar Surprise.

On the 11th May I was on a general stroll on my patch when I came across a large larval web on a Hawthorn bush. As it was the same time that I was finding larval webs of Brown-tail moths this was my first thought. However, the larva looked different, as well as the web being larger. I took some photos of the the larva and web so I could check later at home. On looking through my books at home the only likely moth I could come up with was the Small Eggar. I then checked the superb 'Complete History of Butterflies and Moths in Sussex' by Colin Pratt, and this moth has been extinct in West Sussex since 1968, and has only one record in East Sussex since 2009. With this information I assumed it could not possibly be this species. I then sent copies of the photos to both Colin Pratt and Nigel Kemp, they both confirmed that they were indeed larva of the Small Eggar. I then continued to monitor the larva until my last sighting of them on 14th June when I was pleased to show them to Nigel. 



Small Eggar larval web.



Small Eggar larva. 30th May.



Small Eggar larva.  5th June.



Small Eggar larva.  5th June.



Small Eggar larva.  13th June.

After the 14th June the larva had dispersed, although the web was so robust it was still very evident several months later.

Saturday, 23 December 2017

The Holly and the .....Long-tailed Tit!!

Not quite the Christmas Carol, but as near as I can get!!
I had a phone call from Phil to tell me that the Long-tailed Tit numbers had increased dramatically near his hide, since the few we had seen last week. The weather was meant to be a slight improvement on the Friday, although still pretty dire. However, we set off and after getting comfortable in the hide the weather did actually brighten a little. During this time though there were very few birds around, and it was only a short time before the heavy clouds returned and a steady drizzle began to fall. Not too helpful!!
During this time we had a few Long-tailed Tits drop in to feed and one landed on the nearby Holly where we were hoping they would sit briefly.



The Holly and a wet Long-tailed Tit.

During this time we also had the female Kingfisher around the pond. With one fish she caught she suddenly flew towards us and landed nearby on a bird table where she stunned the fish before swallowing it. A quick grab shot of her, heavily cropped to eliminate the bird table was taken. Not very good quality mainly due to the rain.


Mrs Kingfisher and Stickleback.

The bird then returned to the pond where we saw her catch another couple of fish as well as a Water boatman. This was very pleasing as the pond doesn't hold many fish, but it does have many Water boatman so hopefully that will keep the bird coming to the pond.
We also had visits from Great-spotted Woodpeckers and Nuthatch again to keep us amused.


Nuthatch in the rain.



Male Great-spotted Woodpecker.


It was however the Long-tailed Tits that we really wanted to photograph, and with the drizzle eventually clearing as well as the clouds thinning just a little the Long-tailed Tits returned occasionally giving us more opportunities to photograph these delightful little birds. At times we had large groups of double figures all over the fat balls and every now and then one would pose nicely for us.



Long-tailed Tit on Holly.



Long-tailed Tit on Lichen.

Another great morning spent watching nature in close-up in great company.



Wednesday, 20 December 2017

New Garden Moth.

As it is rare for me to put the moth trap out once the Autumn is here I have never managed a Mottled Umber in the garden before. However, I spotted one the other evening on the kitchen window after dark. I managed to re-locate it the following morning for a few pictures. A very common winter moth, but new to me.


Male Mottled Umber.

I also had another Buzzard attempt at Phils' hide. Once again we had a false alarm when 2 Buzzards were heard close, but again they proved elusive for us. One day I might get a close encounter with these great birds. The branch we were hoping the Buzzard would pose on did give the Jays and Great-spotted Woodpeckers something to look at and admire though. Better luck next time!!



Male Great-spotted Woodpecker.



Jay.



Jay.



Wednesday, 13 December 2017

Sussex Dartford Warblers.

Looking back on a few highlights from the past year that I didn't post at the time included an early Summer visit to a couple of Sussex heathlands hoping to catch up with some Dartford Warblers. This species seemed to have done quite well over the past few years in Sussex and walking around both of the heaths several birds were seen. All apart from one were quite long distance and the photos are a little more cropped than I would have liked, but they still show what a beautiful species they are. The final bird that I photographed was a bit nearer. This one I found as I was walking along a path when I heard the bird calling loudly. Creeping into an area of Gorse it became clear why it was calling so loudly, as it was having a heated argument with a Willow Warbler!!















Dartford Warbler on Gorse.



Dartford Warbler having an argument with a Willow Warbler.