Wednesday, 1 August 2012


No,  it's not what you're thinking, I've not been spending time lounging on a sun baked tropical island  somewhere in the South Pacific. No, it was last week here, in good ol' England, when we had some 'proper' summer  weather with (mostly) wall to wall sunshine and temperatures up to 30 degrees Celsius.

So, if you can stick with it, here is my account (mostly photographic, I took over 1500 pictures during the week...and I'm still sorting through them!!) of my week in the hot sun...

Day one...Pitstone Hill and Incombe Hole in Buckinghamshire.

The day started at 5am when I met Keith at the Ivinghoe Beacon car park, our quest for the day was to see if we could find Corn Buntings and the Dark Green Fritillary Butterfly. after a quick coffee, (thanks Keith, our catering  manager for the day!) we set of for the walk to Pitstone Hill.

These two, along with their recently shorn compatriots, looked rather bemused to see a couple of strange looking beings traipsing through their field at such an early hour!

As we arrived at the base of Pitstone Hill the sun was up and the temperature had started to rise. It wasn't long before we heard the jangling call (it's been likened to the jangling of a bunch of keys) of the bird we had come to see...a Corn Bunting was singing from the overhead power lines, our first objective soon achieved!

And now the butterflies had started to appear from their overnight resting spots.


Meadow Brown

After a couple of hours watching the Corn Buntings along with the numerous other birds that had  put in an appearance (18 species in total) we started to make our way back to the car for breakfast. Again we heard that jangling call and soon spotted a Corn Bunting sitting on a fence post.

After breakfast,  no sooner than we had started to make our way to Incombe Hole,  we came across our second objective of the day... a pair of Dark Green Fritillaries were feeding on some thistles.


Satisfied that we had easily found  our objectives for the day we continued our walk taking in the sight of the butterflies and wild flowers along the way. 

Marbled White

Large Skipper


Cut-leaved Selfheal (apparently quite rare!)

Clustered Bellflower

I thought I knew what this was but cannot find any reference for it. can anyone help?

Field Scabious


 Day Two.....Hitchin Lavender in Hertfordshire.

Again I met up with Keith, athough this time not so early!!..10am, for a trip to Hitchin Lavender where I'd previously found Essex Skipper Butterflies. The temperature had already reached the high 20's when we arrived.

The rows of lavender looked stunning in the sunshine...

.....and were 'humming' with the sound of lots (and I mean LOTS!!) of Honey Bees and  various types of Bumble Bee.

Honey Bee

Red poppies conrasted well with the purple lavender...

Long-headed Poppy (no black spots on the base of the petals)

Unfortunately we didn't find the Essex Skipper, in fact birds and butterflies were largely noticeable by their absence...the heat of the day sending them too cooler spots maybe?

One butterfly that did put in an appearance was this Ringlet.


Day Three......RSPB The Lodge, Sandy in Bedfordshire.

This time I left Keith at home!! and instead took my wife Claire to the headquarters of The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds..her choice by the way!

Another hot, 30c and sunny day as we started our walk around the reserve and again not that many birds showing in the heat....or maybe they had 'gone to ground' at the sight of a patrolling Hobby...

Further on we found a shady spot to sit and have a drink and something to eat (thanks for carrying it Claire X X ) when I heard a 'mewing' sound coming from some distant trees...Buzzard, I thought as I saw a bird silhouetted against the sun, appear out on a branch with some prey held firmly in its grasp, which it promptly started to eat. I fired off a few hopeful shots...

However on looking at the images later and with a great deal of help from Photoshop this is what I discovered...

Now, I don't know if there was a family of Hobbies in the trees, there was certainley lots of noise, but I ever only saw this one out in the open!

Further on and we came to a small pond ( famed for its breeding Natterjack Toads!) where another photographer was busy taking pictures of a lone male Banded Demoiselle, we got chatting and it turned out that we live no more than a mile away from each other! (it's a small world, as they say!!). If you're reading this 'other photographer' I'm sorry but I omitted to ask your name.

Also flying around the pond were a pair of Ruddy Darter Drangonflies.

 Ruddy Darter male

Also spotted in the vegetation was this emerging dragonfly larva... 

 ...does anyone know which dragonfly this is about to become?

Back to the visitor centre for much needed cool drinks and ice creams and a chance to take a few photographs of the Spotted Flycatcher pair that have returned to nest here for another year.

Also seen around the visitor centre...

A resting Rock Dove/Feral Pigeon

Small Skipper

So, a good three days out in the sun doing the thing I like best... taking pictures of our beautiful and varied wildlife.

If you've stuck with it to the end..thank you, you deserve a medal ( I hear they're giving them away at the moment just a few miles down the road, perhaps I could borrow some for you!!)

In part two of this epic I have a chance meeting with 'royalty' and get up close and personal with some dragons... as soon as I've sorted through all the photo's that is!!


ADRIAN said...

A wonderful week. The hairy thing you saw....not the grey hairy thing standing nest to a wasp gall and should be on a wild rose.

holdingmoments said...

Excellent set Trevor. The sun certainly makes a big difference.
We had some great days out; and good of you to take the wife out too lol

Love the shots of the Hobby, and you certainly got something there with it in the tree. Amazing how far some pictures can be shoved.

I think the spiky red thing is some sort of Gall. I googled 'gall' images, and one that came up looking pretty close was a Robins Pin Cushion. Worth checking out the other results properly though.

And finally, before this reply turns into a blog, well done on getting the ID for the Cut-leaved Selfheal. A good find wasn't it.
Only book I could find it in was my new one.

Ok, that's it. lol

Ruby said...

I love your bird silhouette picture. The lavender fields are stunning. Your trip was awesome Cheers, Ruby

grammie g said...

Hi Trevor...Stunning shot's could I pick a favorite if I had to!
Good thing I don't have to....,but I did do a big big gasp and a "that is gorgeously breath taken, when I saw the field of Lavender!! I just love Lavender I have a bed of it in the garden!!
I am taken a bit by the Corn Bunting on the fence post something draws me in on that one : }
Well before I go off on each one of them...nice that you got some great weather, and nothing looks worse for ware with all the rain you had!!!


HAS TO BE A GOLD FOR YOU TREVOR, fantastic photos,ican smell that lavender


The Herald said...

Thanks Adrian, and for the id...[;o)

Thanks Keith. Yeh, a little bit of sun sure helps!!

I was lucky with the Hobby(ies)

A wonderful thing is

Adrian just pipped you with the id, I knew that I knew what it was I just couldn't dig it out from the back of my mind!

Yeh, I didn't know what the 'selfheal was when I took the pics I just thought it was a white version of the 'normal' one...luck again!!...I'll have to do the[;o)

Thanks very much Ruby...[;o)

Hi Grace, Thank you. Doesn't that lavender look stunning in the sunshine!!

The Corn Bunting did pose well for us...untill a jogger came by!!!

And the weather..back to normal now!!...[;o)

Thanks Peter, not sure about the Gold tho'

The smell of lavender got a bit 'heady' after a while!...[;o)

Bob Bushell said...

Nice array of all things, birds, dragonflies, butterflies and the flowers, you can't beat them.

The Herald said...

Thanks Bob...[;o)

ShySongbird said...

You certainly made the most of our few days of Summer Trevor. Wasn't it wonderful and what a disappointment it didn't last!

Lovely photos throughout and you saw lots of interest. I am very envious of the DGFs having been to a 'guaranteed' site twice and seen nothing :-(

Well done with the Corn Bunting too, it's great when a plan comes together...mine usually don't!

Great photo of the Lavender, the scent must have been very heady in the heat.

Looking forward to your royal encounter ;-)

The Herald said...

Thanks Jan. We did well with that week of Summer, our summers are normaly here today gone tomorrow!!

The same could be said about our wildlife, nothing is guaranteed, this time was one of those rare occasion when everything came together

The lavender looked good but, as you say, it did get a bit overpowering after a while.

Don't hold your breath on the royalty, the images are nowhere near as good as yours!!...[;o)

Liz said...

WOW! What a brilliant series of images. So much beauty of nature in one post. Wonderful captures of insects, butterflies, birds, flowers... stunning!!
That field of lavender is quite something!

Roy said...

What a fabulous 3 days Trevor. Great shot of the Corn Bunting. A DG Fritillary (I should be so lucky) and that Lavender amazing, I thought you had sneaked over to Provence for a few days.

The Herald said...

Liz, thank you for stopping by and for your very kind comments...[;o)

Thanks Roy, Trips abroad? no, affraid not...I couldn't stand all that hot sun!![;o)