Wednesday, 27 April 2016

THE KITES AND BUNTING ARE OUT........



....FOR A SPECIAL CELEBRATION.


Reed Bunting


 

This is where it all started...in the front bedroom of a small two up two down terraced cottage located in a small South Cambridgeshire village close to the Hertfordshire border...

 
Red Kite




....65 years ago on the 27th. April 1951 a small bundle of joy was brought into the world.
 

 (I'm glad that I soon grew out of the dress wearing phase!)



 Celebrating Corn Bunting and Reed Bunting.





The blonde hair didn't last long either, although during the last decade it does (what's left of it) appear to have once again reverted towards a lighter shade...of grey! 

 
Red Kite

65 years is a good amount of time to perfect your own style and persona to present to the world....

 
...how do you think I've done?

 

Corn Bunting


Now I find that some days trying to keep up the standard is just sooo tiring!....

 
 

Thursday, 14 April 2016

AN EXULTATION OF MEMORIES




There is one location, not too far from home, where I regularly like to walk, Why?...it reminds me of my childhood...it was a long time ago but some things I can still remember! 

I grew up in the Cambridgeshire countryside and a memory that is always with me is going out into the fields on a bright and sunny day..(Hmm?..that's another memory) to watch and listen as the many (I seem to remember there were lots more then!) Skylarks (Alauda arvensis)  took to the wing and slowly rose higher and higher into the sky while singing that unforgettable melodious song before dropping back down to earth like a stone before, seemingly at the last minute, opening their wings to make a safe landing.

The area where I visit now doesn't seem to hold as many but it's still a pleasure to stop for a while to watch and listen...an remember!


And to take a few photographs, of course....









I'm still working on the flight shots....these are as good as it gets at the moment!

 

 

 Exultation..I'm sure you know...is the collective name for a group of Skylarks.
 

Monday, 1 February 2016

SHAG UPDATE



Sad news about the Shag featured in my last post, as is usually the case with lost/misplaced birds...those that have strayed away from their usual habitat, it's been reported over the weekend that this bird has sadly been found dead.
Not the best outcome, but nature doesn't always work in the most pleasing of ways I guess?




 

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

SHAG SHAPES





I went out yesterday to a local lake to see if I could find the Shag that has been reported seen there over the last few days.
I spent some time scanning back and forth across the lake with my scope without any success until I heard someone calling from behind me, when I turned around a couple of fellow birders were pointing to a lone bird proudly sitting on a jetty not more than a hundred yards in the opposite direction to which I had been looking!(it wasn't there earlier..'onest!)..... a classic case of 'it's behind you'!

I spent the next 45 minutes or so watching and photographing a largely dozing and motionless bird. It did, from time to time, stir enough to provide a few different photo opportunities....
....in the vernacular of the (much) younger generation it 'pulled a few shapes'. (I think?)


Chillin'

 
Eyeballing

 
 Contemplating..(I bet you can't guess what happened next?)




Amused...(laughing at the silly bu...r who's been standing in the cold wind taking (rubbish) photographs for the best part of the last hour!)

Despite the cold wind it was good to get out and see it, and to notch up a new 'life tick' into the bargain.  

*Just in case you were wondering about the rings on it's legs?...according to them that know, it was rung on the Farne Islands last summer.


 

Wednesday, 6 January 2016

FROM LAST YEAR



A small selection from some of the 'other' subjects that I pointed my camera at during my wanderings last year.

 Tracks.

 Norfolk Beach.

 Castlerig Stone Circle   Cumbria.

 Black Tern?

 Full Moon.

The much talked about and photographed Solar Eclipse on March 20th.

The jetty at Ashness Bridge  Derwentwater  Cumbria.

Out enjoying the countryside...where better place to be?   

Tuesday, 22 December 2015

SEASONS GREETINGS

























Wherever you are and whatever you're doing this holiday season I wish you all a Very Merry Christmas.

Sunday, 18 October 2015

A SUMMER BUG AFFAIR



It’s been a while since my last post however, my time ‘away’ has been very enjoyable….I’ll let you into a little secret…I’ve had an affair!…yup, I’ve been smitten!…I’ve fallen in love with BUGS…insects, creepy crawlies…call them what you will. There’s around 24,000 species of insect in the UK and Ireland and, apart from the more obvious species like butterflies,moths and dragonflies etc., I’ve not really ‘noticed’ them before, just now and then taking a cursory glance (and maybe a photo!) at the odd one or two sitting obligingly on a leaf or grass stem, but over the last three or so months I’ve become fascinated by how diverse they are in colour, shape and behavior…I’ve also enjoyed the challenge of getting any sort of decent photographs. I’ve spent many a happy hour(?) peering into various sorts of bushes and undergrowth and it’s suffice to say that insects are very adept at flying, jumping, running, hiding, playing dead and have many other ways and means of avoiding the intrusion of that large glass eye!!)

Getting a decent photograph is only the first hurdle, getting a correct ID can become an even bigger challenge. There’s not much info out there regarding books and the internet to help with the ID of the ‘lesser’ known species.
Anyway..enough of the waffle here’s a few images (and even fewer words!) hopefully showing how diverse some of the wonderful bugs that I’ve fallen in love with can be!!

One of the largest (apart from the previously mentioned Dragonflies/Butterflies) ….

Bug Affair 1  largest  Roesel's
Roesel’s Bush Cricket ♀  Metrioptera roeselii    Up to 26mm long, one of the13 species of Bush Cricket found in the UK.

One of the hairiest….

Bug Affair 2  Hairiest  HairySB
Hairy Shieldbug  Dolycoris baccarum    Mostly found in the southern half of the UK, this is one of the 37 species of (UK) Shieldbugs, it can grow up to 13mm long.

One of the crop growers enemies….

Bug Affair 3  Click larva
A Wireworm..the larval stage of one of the UK and Irelands 73 Click Beetle species. As a larva it lives in the soil for up to 3 years and reaches a length of 20-25mm where it feeds on the roots of various plants such as corn and potatoes with the ultimate destruction of the crop.

One of the most strangest looking….

Bug Affair 5 Weirdest  Acorn
Acorn Weevil  Curcullio glandium  One of the UK’s 613 species of Weevil, found mostly on Oak trees were the larva develops inside the acorns. It has a body length of about 8mm.

One of the most annoying….

Bug Affair 6 Annoying  Wasp
German Wasp  Vespula germanica  One of  Britain’s 4 species of black and yellow social wasps…although they would appear to be anything but ‘social’ when they induce that (amusing?) arm waving, hip hopping dance often seen at picnics and alfresco summer dining occasions!  Body length up to 20mm.

A pretender….

Bug Affair 7 Lier False LB
False Ladybird  Endomychus coccineus  Not a ladybird but one of the 8 species of Handsome Fungus Beetles.  It mimics an unpalatable ladybird in the hope it will be overlooked by any interested predators. 4 to 6mm in length it feeds on fungus growths on or under the bark of dead trees.

One of the rarest….

Bug Affair 8 Rarest Net WB
Net-winged Beetle  platycis minutus  The smallest (up to 8mm long) of the 4 species of these, rather rare and very local, soft bodied beetles that are found in Britain.  This particular one is found in southern and eastern England.

When I realised that this beetle was on the notably scarce list I reported it to the county recorder who got back to me to say that he only had one other record for Bedfordshire, and from a different location.  And to my surprise, three weeks later, another one landed right in front of me on a dead/fallen tree that I was ‘examining’  about 25 miles away over the border into Hertfordshire!  Perhaps they’re not so rare after all??

The Traveller….

Bug Affair 9 Colonist Box Bug
Box Bug (late instar nymph)  Gonocerus acuteangulatus  One of the 11 species of Leatherbugs found in the UK.
Before the early 1990’s this bug was restricted to a small 10km area around Box Hill in Surry (hence the name!) but now it is slowly spreading to other parts of  the southern UK and is now classed as local. The adult has a body length of up to 14mm.
I had a good search of the area where I found this nymph but failed to locate anymore individuals.

One of the prettiest….

Bug Affair 10 Smartest Black and Yellow LH
Black-and-yellow Longhorn Beetle  Stenurella melanura  With a body length of up to 20mm this prettily marked Longhorn Beetle is one of the 58 species found in Britain, they display a wide variety of sizes and colours.

The deceiver

Bug Affair 11 Deciever  W Beetle
Wasp Beetle  Clytus arietis  Another Longhorn Beetle again using colours and patterns to try and outwit any predators this time loosely mimicking a wasp. Up to 15mm body length.

One of the Smallest….

Bug Affair 4 Smallest  Ensign
Black Scavenger or Ensign Fly  Sepsis cynipsea  One of 29 species of small ant like flies that are associated with animal dung, this is one of the smallest at around 3mm body length and is abundant throughout Britain. 


I hope you’ve enjoyed this quick look into the vast world of bugs, and as you can probably imagine, I’ve got a large amount of photos (many still to process and i.d.) and in my next post I’ll try and show the variation that occurs within some of the different species.