Monday, 30 May 2011

Images from a walk. Part Three (1) - Wild Flowers


                                                                BEACON HILL AND  SURROUNDS 
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          As I seem to have quite a few images of wild flowers for this post, and to save boring you too much, I've divided it into two parts (Ha! Ha!).
So this is Part Three (1) of the series of images taken on my walk around the area between Ivinghoe Beacon and (including) Incombe Hole.
Annual Wall-Rocket
 The alternative name for the Annual Wall-Rocket is Stinkweed, because its stem contains the chemical Sulphuretted Hydrogen which gives off the smell of  'rotten eggs'!

Bladder Campion
 As dusk falls the Bladder Campion gives off a clove like scent which attracts bees and night-flying moths.

Common Fumitory
 The name fumitory comes from the Latin meaning 'smoke of the earth' and where it grows in numbers and is seen from acrooss a distant field it gives the impression of a grey, smokey haze.

Stinging or Common Nettle
 The well known 'stinger'.  Also food for the caterpillars of the Small Tortoiseshell and Peacock butterflies.

Common Vetch
 The Common Vetch was introduced to England from the Continent for cattle food and then found its way onto waste ground and now occurs mainly in the South of the country.

Salad Burnet
 The leaves of the Salad Burnet, when crushed, smell of cucumber and can be used in salads.

White Campion
 The White Campion grows mainly on arable land and roadside verges but where it grows close to its relative the Red Campion they will interbreed to produce pink flowering plants.

Wild Mignonette
 The Wild Mignonette is a shorter relative of Weld, which the flowers of can be used to make a vivid Yellow dye.

Yellow Archangel
The Yellow Archangel closely resembles the White Dead-Nettle the main difference being the striking Yellow flowers. The flowering stem is square and the leaves give off an unpleasant smell when brushed or damaged.
Part Three (2) to follow!

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Images from a walk. Part two - Butterflies


                                                      BEACON HILL AND SURROUNDS 

As promised here are some Butterfly images taken on my walk around the area between Ivinghoe Beacon and (including) Incombe Hole.

The most numerous butterfly by far was the Small Heath.

Small Heath

Small Heath (coupled pair)

Followed closely by -

Dingy Skipper

Grizzled Skipper
 This was the first time I had seen or photographed a Grizzled Skipper. ("I'll be back" as the saying goes!)
Other butterflies seen and photographed were -

Small Blue (male)

Small Blue (male)

Brown Argus (male)

Common Blue (male)

A rather tatty Speckled Wood

And...... Can you see me?
A well "hidden" female Brimstone
On the way home I decided, on the off chance, to stop off at a location were last year I had photographed a White-legged Damselfly. And it was not long before I spotted two in exactly the same place.  

White-legged Damselfly

And as a bonus perched close by was a Large Skipper.......
 ......a full two to three weeks earlier than last year!
In part three of this series I'll post images of the wild flowers seen during my walk. 

Sunday, 22 May 2011

Images from a walk. Part one - Birds


                                                           BEACON HILL AND SURROUNDS 

With the weather forecast predicting a fine, warm and sunny day I decided to make an early start and left home at 6.30am. for the short drive to Ivinghoe Beacon.

On arrival at the already busy car park I started off by heading across the road into an area mostly containing Hawthorn bushes. The birds were being very vocal with mainly Linnets and Willow Warblers vying to see who could sing the loudest with the accompaniment of a distant Song Thrush.



Willow Warbler

Walking further on along the track towards Incombe Hole there was a disturbance in the bushes up ahead and five or six small birds flew across the track in front of me and quickly dispersed into the denser bushes on the other side, bar one, who seemed intent on ignoring mum or dad’s frantic calls and instead decided to see what this strange being with one big eye was going to do (take it’s photo of course!) 

Willow Warbler junior

Emerging out onto the heath land above Incombe Hole the first encounter was a Dunnock who kindly stopped by long enough for a couple of portrait shots.

Walking further round the escarpment that overlooks the Vale of Aylesbury and on towards The Beacon I saw a Buzzard, being half heartedly worried by a couple of Carrion Crows, settle on top of a small bush not far in front of me. The Crows however soon managed to ‘dislodge’ it and it made its lazy flight off and out of sight.

There were also quite a few Linnets busily flitting from bush to bush in this area. This female stopped to pose for a few seconds.

Other birds seen but not photographed included Yellowhammer, Whitethroat, Meadow Pippit, Blackcap, Blackbird, Woodpigeon, Rook and Jackdaw. 
I did manage quite a few shots of a Red Kite that made a close flypast but craftily it managed to stay out of focus!!

And on the walk back along the track up to the car park I came across a group of juvenile Long-tailed Tits noisily flitting from tree to tree.

 To follow later, Part two - Butterflies.

Monday, 16 May 2011

The Young Ones

                                 SUNDAY 15th. MAY 2011

Yesterday I spent an enjoyable few hours (and numerous cups of tea!) watching from my patio window the comings and goings in my garden.

The overriding theme seemed to be "the young ones" or to put it another way, the next generation.

There was a family of House Sparrow fledglings (six) being attended to (fed) by dad in various locations around the garden, although mum seemed to be missing, perhaps sitting on a new clutch of eggs? 
I noticed that all six fledglings never seemed to be in the same place at the same time but scattered around the garden, I wonder if this was just coincidence, confusion or self preservation. Whichever it was it all added up to a lot of work for poor old dad! 

"you're not my Dad"

 The Starlings were by far the noisiest and rowdiest, ten or twelve squabbling and fighting continuingly over the suet treat feeder. No fledglings yet but I guess it won’t be long as some of the birds were flying off with beakfuls of supplies.

Mr. and Mrs. Blackbird were on the lawn with just the one fledgling, although mum and dad stayed well away I noticed that Junior decided to mix it with the Starlings under the feeders until he/she was given a lesson in how sharp a Starling’s beak is!

A pair of Blue Tits were busily to’ing and fro’ing from the fat ball feeder in a relay of about every two minutes or so, I guess (hopefully) I’ll soon be getting a visit from some young Blue Tits.

And my favourite young visitor of the day has got to be a fledgling Robin looking very smart in his/her speckled coat and already showing that air of arrogance that says “this is my patch, watch out”!

Other visitors to the garden included two Collared Doves, a Woodpigeon, two Goldfinches and a very brief visit from a male Chaffinch looking very dapper in his immaculate and bright breeding uniform. And as I sit at the computer writing this I can see and hear him singing out from the roof of a neighbour’s house.  Wonderful.

                                All images taken through a double glazed window.