Wednesday, 15 June 2011


After yesterday's visit to deepest, darkest Sussex, it was back to the comfort of my own backyard today. The trouble is, I kept expecting to see a dashing Redstart, or a dapper Stonechat, or even a laid back, confiding Woodlark as I made my way round Brooklands lake. It didn't happen of course but you can dream can't you?

What I did see and hear were much the usual cast really, Whitethroats churring their warning of my approach to their recently fledged families seemingly from every bit of cover. Blackcaps singing rich and clear and hidden from the likes of me by the now dense leaf cover, maybe there was a Garden Warbler among them, it wouldn't be the first time they've caught me out. And Ciffchaffs, I know where I stand with them, or do I? Quite a loud, constant 'hweet' call coming from a particularly dense tangle of scrub had me thinking possibly Chiffy, only to see a few seconds later a Nightingale exiting stage left. Presumably a contact call for it's fledglings? Just when I think i'm getting the hang of this lark.............!

I didn't hear the Cuckoo today and once more, no sign of the Turtle Dove. There was a Kestrel hunting over the sunken marsh and a Lesser Whitethroat rattled from within it, both new species for June at New Hythe, but apart from that, inspiration, if it was there, remained out of sight, just like that Lesser Whitethroat.

So it was time to start looking at whatever was lurking in the undergrowth and first up was this fearsome looking fly, Tachina Fera. It's a bit hairy and a bit ugly but as far as I know it's harmless. Unlike the green horsefly species which has reappeared around the lakes and has bitten me about four or five times today. I couldn't get a picture because the only times I saw them were when they were on my arms. I'm looking for volunteers to accompany me next time so that I can get an action shot of somebody else getting bitten.

Although most of the time there was no sun, when it did deign to briefly show it's face, so did the hoverflies. But like lots of things they're a bit of a devil to ID and this one is no exception. After a bit of hovering myself, I'm going to settle on Eupeodes nitens, although I think the stripe pattern can vary somewhat.
***Many thanks to Greg for alerting me to the fact that the Collins British Insect Guide,which I often use to help ID insects, is wrong. They have inadvertently swapped descriptions of Eupeodes nitens and Xanthogramma pedisequum, meaning that the above hoverfly is Xanthogramma. Don't believe everything you read in books!!***

While trying to get the picture of the hoverfly, a Cetti's Warbler exploded into song close by. I looked in the general direction and saw it, tail up on a branch out in the open. A very quick shot produced the picture above, I know it's not great, but it's a Cetti's, so anything counts as good I reckon.

Eyes down again and this one above, is a new one for me I think. Sphaerophoria scripta, try saying that with your teeth out! The long abdomen reaching further than the wings when they're folded makes this the male of the species.
Next up was a person who told me he'd just seen a pile of poo on the wide river path that he was pretty sure was deposited by a wild boar..............what can I say? It could be boar***t, or it could be bull***t.

As has been the case of late the butterflies, like me, are sulking because of the rubbish weather. Consequently I only saw a couple, the Red Admiral above, whose underwings are superb I think, and my first Small Tortoiseshell at NH this year, pictured below and at the top of the post.

As is my habit lately I headed for the Water Vole stream but again drew a blank although I was quite happy to get a shot of this Moorhen chick. It doesn't look too happy, maybe it's just clocked the size of it's feet for the first time, or caught sight of it's bald patch reflecting off the water. Although I didn't see a Water Vole, if you look in the bottom right corner of the Moorhen picture I think you'll see evidence of a recent visit in the shape of Water Vole poo. I must have just missed it!

The NE corner of the west scrub was still sporting some Orchids. The two that caught my eye were the lovely coloured Pyramidal above. And another incredible Bee Orchid that I found in a different place to the others a couple of weeks ago.

At last, my first Five Spot Burnet of the year below, this slow flying moth was not inclined to move too far without the warmth of the sun. Good job really as I couldn't have followed it for fear of trampling on a few Common Orchids close by.

The addition of the Kestrel today left my New Hythe June list 'hovering' at 58 species. I know that's not very good, but I find the lure of butterflies, damsels, dragons and bugs irresistible at the moment. Not to mention lizards of course.

I nearly forgot to say, have you noticed the amount of ladybirds about this year? New Hythe seems to be absolutely swarming with them.

Maybe it's something to do with food supply, click on the picture below to see what I mean.


Anonymous said...

You`re not kidding Phil. Those (green) horseflies are experts at creeping up on you. Even jungle formula doesn`t stop them.

Rob said...

Your Pyramidal orchids are further open than ours.
I see what you mean about the Ladybird food!

Mary Howell Cromer said...

That little Moorhen is really a cutie, and the insects are wonderful captures, very nice and also interesting post~

ShySongbird said...

I nearly missed this one! A lovely, energetic and humorous post Phil with some great pics. It's always a pleasure to visit here.

On closer inspection, I eventually found the Cetti's ;) I just wish I could find one here, I never have.

The butterfly situation is getting worrying here. After a good start in the early Spring, there are none to be seen and I mean none!!

Those Bee Orchids really are incredible creations.

As for the Moorhen chick... :)

Finally, as in my opinion, Greenie is snake magnet man you must surely be lizard magnet man!

Greg said...

The first hoverfly is Xanthogramma pedisequum. I assume you used Collins Complete British Insects by Chinery or the web. Unfortunately, the images for Eupeodes nitens and Xanthogramma pedisequum have been transposed in this book (compare descriptions). As a popular guide, it also means a lot of the images on the web are misidentified.

Phil said...

Hi Greg, your assumption is correct, I did indeed use Collins by Chinery.
I hate posting wrong ID's but at least this one wasn't all my fault!
I'm very grateful to you for reading the post and thank you for drawing my attention to the error in the book.