Thursday, 31 May 2018


 It's been a good year for Grizzled Skippers. I usually only expect to see one or two of these tiny low flying butterflies each season but this year New Hythe has hosted very good numbers. Still no sightings of Dingy Skippers on site though. It's been some years since the last record and it would be interesting to know why this species doesn't or can't sustain a colony on what looks like a reasonable habitat for them.


My New Hythe butterfly list is faltering at the moment. Partly due I think to the vagaries of the English weather and partly down to time spent on site (or lack of) for various reasons. At the moment I have seen ten species including; Brimstone, Peacock, Small Tortoiseshell, Comma, Red Admiral, Green-veined White, Speckled Wood, Common Blue, Orange Tip and Small White. Absent from this list is the Green Hairstreak. But I still have a chance to see one if I get my proverbial finger out!

 It's that time of the year when the birding goes quiet. Or at least it does at New Hythe. So it's eyes down now instead of up as the search for dragons and damsels begins, providing a fresh challenge and the chance to point the camera at something that sometimes even keeps still for a little while.

The Large Red is the first damselfly to emerge and in no time at all they appear to be everywhere. We completed a small garden pond at home a few weeks ago and within a few days the reds arrived, paired up and began their familiar 'in tandem' ovipositing, which hopefully will lead to fresh emergence in the pond during Spring of 2020. 

The first of the dragonflies on the wing is the Hairy dragonfly. So called because it has a hairy thorax unlike other hawker species. The suggestion is that the hairs are to give extra warmth as their emergence time is early May and it can be quite cool. Sounds fair enough, but who knows. Funnily enough I found the individual above, fairly early on a cool morning and it was too cold to fly. I picked the nettle and took it to a sunnier spot, took an upside down shot and within a few minutes it was off like a rocket. I was lucky really, this species is not one to stop and pose, so are notoriously difficult to photograph.

My dragons and damsels list for New Hythe this year is coming along slowly and is running pretty much true to form. The Banded Demoiselles are now on the wing along with Common Blue, Blue-tailed and Red-eyed damsels. There are probably Azure damselflies too but I haven't ID'd them as yet.

The dragonflies include this super, immature Black-tailed Skimmer which I found perched along the millstream, the aforementioned Hairy dragonfly, Downy Emeralds, Broad-bodied Chasers and a few Emperors. Best of the bunch though is the Scarce Chaser found by Glenn last weekend. This is only the third record for the site and although I saw one here last year it has eluded me so far this year.


 Not much to say about the birds at the moment, my NH year list has stalled at 98 species with no new additions in recent weeks. Here's a new arrival at the site though in the shape of a very young Dunnock who decided to sit in the middle of the vehicle track along the side of Brooklands lake. After a bit of posing for the camera he returned to the safety of the undergrowth.

At home, our House Martins have returned and are currently in situ and possibly on eggs. Hopefully we'll get a couple of broods this year. A couple of days ago we had a brief but welcome visit from our first Painted Lady of the season. Both of our nest boxes have been home to Blue Tit families this year despite the attempts by a marauding Great Spotted Woodpecker to break into one of the boxes. This morning a pair of Bullfinches perched on the back of one of our patio chairs just six feet from the house. They departed before I could get my camera but the male flew straight into our kitchen window. I feared for his life but five minutes later he was up in the cherry tree with his missus as if nothing had happened. Also today we were visited in the garden by a baby Rabbit. It looked very cute but it needs to stay away from Carol's vegetable plot or there may be trouble ahead......


And finally. We don't usually get Blackcaps in the garden but this female paid a couple of visits this week with the sole intention of pinching our wall basket liner for her nest, presumably nearby. The twitter of tiny Blackcaps would be nice!

1 comment:

Mike Attwood said...

Hi Phil, The black cap in the garden was a nice surprise I don't even get a sparrow in mine although I do get a few animals.