Monday, 13 July 2015

BUTTERFLIES, BUGS, A BIRD AND CRICKET IN THE GARDEN


 A short visit to New Hythe lakes on Thursday produced nothing of too much significance. Probably the most interesting, or at least the most unexpected sighting, was of two Siskins who flew over the edge of the west scrub calling loudly. I didn't see one at all during last winter at New Hythe and I think they were pretty scarce just about everywhere locally.
Of the butterfly species, Comma's were the most noticeable, partly for quantity and partly because they were in such pristine, freshly made condition.




The Brimstone above was the only one I saw, it was hunkered down among the reeds and allowed me to carefully remove the stems that were in the way of a decent photo. Ringlets were also on the wing, plus a few Gatekeepers, Meadow Browns and assorted Skippers. An indication perhaps of the summer slipping by all too quickly.




Dragonflies were definitely at a premium, just a couple of Emperors on the wing. Black-tailed Skimmers (above), were more plentiful, though most of these were, as usual, on the ground. Not the best place for a pleasing image in my opinion. There were a couple of Common Darters here and there too and the Brown Hawkers had also made their appearance, rising suddenly into the air with a clatter of  dry wings against the undergrowth as they took off at speed, never returning to the same spot and frustratingly denying me the chance to get a picture. 



While standing cursing myself as another Brown Hawker erupted from the brambles before I saw it, this handsome, but somewhat vicious fly landed on my bare arm. Before the little blighter could taste my blood I swatted it away and it landed close by, maybe dazed, the biter bit I thought and took it's picture as evidence. I think it's Chrysops Caecutiens, which is a bit of a (bloody) mouthful, so i'll settle for Horse Fly. Enough said.




Returning along the Millstream, I stopped to listen to a Blackcap singing close by. All of a sudden he popped up and smiled for the camera. I was well chuffed, and he looks it too.




On Friday, I paid a long overdue visit to the North Downs near Shoreham. I spent half an hour or so trying to get a reasonable shot of the many Marbled White butterflies on the wing here. They were not very obliging, settling only briefly and then often down among the long grasses, partially obscured. I finally came across this pair, who for obvious reasons, were too preoccupied with more pressing matters to worry about me gently removing obstructions from around them in order to get these pictures.




I moved on, in the hope of maybe seeing some reptiles basking in the heat of the chalk Downs. But it wasn't to be, maybe they didn't need to bask when it was already so hot.
 I thought I was the only person on site, so I was a bit surprised to see another figure coming slowly along the hillside, camera in hand. I glanced nonchalantly in their direction, like you do, not wanting to appear too nosey, but it could be somebody you know couldn't it. Well, you could have knocked me down with a Marbled White when I realised it was Marianne from the Wild Side, that's her blog, not the other side of the Downs. We had a bit of a chat and before she headed off for the station, she told me there were a few Dark Green Fritillaries on the site. I had never seen one of these before, so off I trotted to see if I could find some.  



I made my way along the side of the Downs but at first only managed to find more Marbled Whites. this time more obliging due to the presence of Knapweed I think.






Then I saw a dark brown butterfly fly past me at speed. It had to be the Fritillary. It eventually settled briefly and I got a shot of my first Dark Green Fritillary. 



I saw several more but they never settled long enough for anything but a few quick shots. I hope to go back soon when the Chalkhill Blues emerge.



In my last post I mentioned the Wrens who have borrowed a House Martin's nest at the front of the house. This is one of the baby Wrens which fledged from the nest Sunday Morning. We left it sheltering under our carport with its Mum in attendance close by as we went shopping with fingers crossed that the local cats didn't turn up.




Small Tortoiseshells are in abundance in the garden now. They particularly like the Lavender, but the breeze always spoils my attempts to picture them on it.




And finally. Carol called me out to the patio Friday afternoon where this Roesel's Bush Cricket had made itself comfortable on the back of one of our garden chairs.Many thanks to Greenie for pointing out that this Roesel's is of the Macropterous, large wing form. These are much rarer than the common short wing form, making up only 1% of the population of these Crickets.


8 comments:

Warren Baker said...

Those DGF are lovely butterflies Phil, photographed a few in wales, but not see any English ones!

alan woodcock said...

Hi,nice record of two Siskin,probably a first for N H during July.Good numbers have been seen at Sandwich,also unusual for July.

Wilma said...

Love the marbled whites!

Greenie said...

Phil ,
Nice summery post with plenty of butterflies .
That female Comma will hopefully produce offspring showing from September and they will overwinter .
Spot on with the Knapweed , looks like Greater .
Some Chalkhill Blues have been seen , but like you I haven't yet .
Just wondering , do the local cats cause a lot of trouble at the shops ?
Love the young Wren .

Greenie said...

Phil ,
Since looking at the last shot , the Roesel's Bush Cricket , I've had the feeling that something was unusual .
The penny dropped tonight , it's got long wings .
The normal specimen seen is the brachypterous / abnormally short wing form , but your specimen is the rare macropterous / large wing form . This rare form is believed to make up only 1% of the population .
It appears to be a male . Have you got any other shots ? Well done Carol for finding it .

Phil said...

Greenie
That's interesting. Funnily enough I too thought it had long wings but didn't attach any importance to it. Haven't got any other shots i'm afraid, I just picked that one out and deleted the rest.
Re your previous comment: the cats don't normally cause any trouble at the shops, but I just had this feline that they might do that day :-)
I can hear you groaning, but you started it!!

Ken. said...

Phil.
Sorry it's a late comment. Well done with your first photos of a Fritillary, lovely picture it is too. Nice to see pics of Marbled White butterflies, you don't see many of them on blog posts.

Marianne said...

And mine is a VERY late comment! Lovely post and photos, I'm glad (and only a little jealous) that you got some DGF pics on the downs. That bush-cricket is a stunner, and a rarity too, nice one :)