Wednesday, 28 May 2014
It rained today, as it did for most of yesterday…and the day before that. I guess tomorrow, it will rain again?
So, stuck indoors looking out at the watery view I noticed that the birds coming to the garden feeders were struggling to keep dry. A lot of the the birds were recently fledged youngsters and it was noticeable that they were suffering the most.
This young Blackbird was continually running backwards and forwards across the shed roof trying to shake off and dodge the raindrops.
A recently fledged Robin looking rather grumpy!
One of the many (wet) young Starlings that were in the garden.
The adult birds were not doing much better at keeping dry.
So what do you do if you’re soaking wet and stuck out in the rain?…..
…..Cast an eye to the heavens, like this young Starling, and say “I wish this bloody rain would stop”….
….Or, like this Blue Tit, just shrug your shoulders and shake it all off…
….Or maybe, just give it a bit of a ‘twizzle’ like this young Goldfinch?
Or perhaps like this young Starling….
….you tuck your head under your wing and go to sleep!
For one visitor to the garden the hard work has to go on come rain or shine. This Blue Tit (there appears to be only one) has, for over a week, been coming to the garden at regular intervals, from early morning to late evening, grabbing some food and quickly flying off…doing the ‘food run’ as I call it. This morning he/she was being closely followed by five, very newly fledged and noisy, youngsters? I hope they survive the rain and make mum or dad’s hard work worth it?
Sorry for the dark and grainy images but they were all taken through the double glazed windows.
Oh!…and did I mention that it was overcast and RAINING?
I’m off to polish my wellies now!!
Monday, 19 May 2014
The last few days have been sunny and pleasantly warm, even quite hot at times!
So, making the most of the good weather, I’ve been out and about taking photographs of the newly emerging wild flowers, butterflies, damselflies and dragonflies. It’s been noticeable over the last week or so, with the warmth of the sun (and a well watered spring!!), how the the countryside has taken on a new lushness of growth and colour.
The ‘early’ damselflies and dragonflies have started to take to the wing now…
Banded Demoiselle (calopteryx splendens)….The males are very territorial and will fight off anything that flies into their patch. They also ‘court’ the females by flicking their wings open and performing an aerial dance in front of them.
Azure Damselfly (coenagrion puella)….One of the two most common blue damselflies, confusingly the females are mostly green with black on top of the abdomen.
Large Red Damselfly (pyrrhosoma nymphula)….One of the very first to emerge in the spring and quite widespread but avoids fast flowing water. The males, which appear in greater numbers than the females, are aggressive and very territorial.
Blue-tailed Damselfly (ischnura elegans)….Another quite common damselfly. always found close to water, unlike some of the other damselflies which can roam widely. The females come in a variety of colours from green through violet to blue.
When damselflies and dragonflies emerge as adults they first go through a stage where they are known as tenerals. During this stage which, depending on the species, can last from a few days to a few weeks their wings remains ‘milky’ and reflective and their flight is weak and fluttery. And to make identification a little difficult they lack the colouring of the adult and appear pale and drab.
How the dictionary calls it…
(Zool.) Of, pertaining to, or designating, a condition assumed by the imago of certain Neuroptera, after exclusion from the pupa. In this state the insect is soft, and has not fully attained its mature colouring.
Common Blue Damselfly (enallagma cyathigerum)….The most common and widely distributed of our native damselflies. Found in association with both still and flowing water, although immatures can be found some distance away from water bodies.
Females, unlike other blue damselflies, can be identified by the presence of a ‘spine’ in front of the ovipositor, under section 8 of the abdomen. (it can be clearly seen in this image)
Red-eyed Damselfly (erythromma najas)….found only in the southern part of the country it prefers large bodies of standing water with lots of floating vegetation, especially water-lilies where the male likes to ‘rest’ on the leaves while waiting for an opponent to come into range when they’ll fight over the territorial rights.
Hairy Dragonfly (brachytron pratense)…. The smallest of our resident hawkers and the earliest to emerge in early May and June. Found in the southern parts of the UK, where the male can be seen patrolling over clear unpolluted and well vegetated water as it searches for females while fighting off any interlopers.
Four-spotted Chaser (libellula quadrimaculata)….Widespread over most of the country and readily identified by the ‘four’ wing spots. The male can be seen perched on a single stem of vegetation as it waits to see off any intruder, or to intercept a passing receptive female when they will briefly mate while on the wing.
Wednesday, 14 May 2014
Thursday, 8 May 2014
A couple of days ago I was driving past a site that, from previous years, I knew was a good place to spot some ‘early’ butterflies. It was sunny and the temperature was good, although there was quite a stiff wind blowing, so I thought that if I could find a sheltered spot I might just be lucky.
I’d only walked a few yards from the car park when I was rewarded by seeing my first butterflies, a dozen or so Green Hairstreaks ‘fighting’ over their territory around a Hawthorn bush.
Encouraged, I moved further on into the site and soon encountered more Green Hairstreaks, and in good numbers too, many more than I’d seen here in previous years. It wasn’t long before I started to see some of the other species that inhabit this site. In the end I spent over four, very enjoyable, butterfly filled hours there.
Green Hairstreak (calophrys rubi)….
Has a wingspan of 27-34mm. and both sexes are alike, except that the male has a pale oval sexual mark on the upper forewings. The upper wings are brown with a golden tinge, while the underside is an unmistakable green and carries a very fine somewhat broken white line - the 'hairstreak'. The back edge of the hindwing has some white fringing and a slightly scalloped appearance, with vestigial tail. It’s flight period is from mid April to the end of July.
This pair wasted no time in getting down to business!
Duke of Burgundy (hamearis lucina)….
The sexes are roughly similar, the male a shade smaller with a wingspan of about 29mm. The male has a dark brown and black ground colour with 3 irregular tawny bands on the forewing, the outer containing 5 black spots near the margins. The hindwings are dark brown with 5 small oval tawny slashes and a broad dark border. Both wings have a white fringe intercrossed by black vein markings. On the underside, the forewing is dappled with black, orange, brown and white flashes with some small black centres in the outer tawny edge and, again, white fringing intersected by black vein marks.The hindwing has two white bands across and then a marginal band of orange crescents each containing black spots and finishing with the white blackcrossed fringe. The female has similar markings but they are altogether lighter and more open. The flight period is from the end of April to mid June.
Dingy Skipper (erynnis tages)….
As its name suggests this small, moth like, butterfly has an overall dark sombre appearance, but close inspection shows an attractive, if plain, even patterning of dark and light blotches with a pale curved band across the forewings and a row of light dots around the wing edges and an outer pale fringe. The insect is about 29mm across when the wings are spread. The flight period is short..from early May to late June.
Grizzled Skipper (pyrgus malvae)….
The Grizzled Skipper is easily identified when it is settled: on the wing it is rather a blur. It is a small butterfly (27mm across the spread wings) and unmistakeably chequered black and white - the black being the dominant colour - and ornamented with numerous white square patches. The edging fringe is also black and white. Both sexes are similar but the male carries the sexual scent gland in a fold in the edge of the forewing. The underside of the wings are lighter, a grey-green colour with more obvious white patches. Flight period from late April till the end of June.
There were not many of these around…I only managed to get this one image.
And to finish off some images of the other butterflies that I’ve taken over the last few weeks…
A beautiful backlit Brimstone (gonepteryx rhamni)
The gardeners best friend…the Cabbage White or, to give it it’s proper name, the Small White (pieris rapae)
A female Orange Tip (anthocharis cardamines)
A Holly Blue (celastrina argiolus) getting well stuck into a Buttercup.
n.b. all the information and descriptions are courtesy of Bird Guides/British Butterflies.