Welcome

Hello and welcome to my Blog - Mainly I capture photographic records of my birding and butterfly visits to places in the Sussex, Hampshire and Kent countryside.
I also have a fascination for all things natural, photographs of which, from time to time, I add to the Blog.




Monday, 15 August 2016

Pied Flycatcher(s)

Back to birding and no better place to start than Pagham, we began the day on the North Wall and were heartened to see the Breech Pool looking much better. Lots of birds in residence, Greenshank, Redshank, Spotted Redshank, Green Sandpipers, Common Snipe, Dunlin and of course the Black-tailed Godwits.  Even two Bar-headed Geese in with the Canadas. All was fine until two Buzzards flew over and then panic set in - six and two threes as some birds disappeared and others were flushed out. Fly by of a Sparrowhawk, two warring Kingfishers and two Common Terns completed the list.

Next up was Church Norton, two Pied Flycatchers had been reported the previous day but I pessimistically thought that they would have gone overnight. We met Chris Janman  who informed us that he had seen one only an hour before, so we sat on a bench in the shade of a fine tree and waited. We didn't have to wait long before the bird turned up - Sod's Law - I hadn't bothered to get the camera out - panic to get set up but the bird remained in the vicinity and I managed to capture it. During the next couple of hours we discovered there were at least two birds present and probably three, but they were mobile. Chris had noticed that one bird had more white markings than usual and he was proved right as I managed to snap a bird with an extra wing bar and a white patch - consensus is that it is just a PF - excitement over.

All in all a good start to the coming migration.




















 
 
 
Definitely two present.

 
Martin and I had a go at deciphering the ring but all I got was a best guess of Z49592, which doesn't look to be complete.
 


 
 
And some from the North Wall
 
Bar-headed Goose
At least there are still fish available

Waders well represented
 
 
 
 
 

Thursday, 11 August 2016

Walls

As I have no doubt said before, the hunt for Brown Hairstreaks symbolises, for me,  the end of the butterfly season. Last year, here in Sussex, we had an extension with Long-tailed Blues emerging at the end of October and even into November. The season is slowly winding down and soon it will be time to start looking for some elusive birds.

Over the last week I have visited some of my local sites and found that butterfly numbers have, at long last, increased. Good numbers of Red Admirals and Silver-Washed Fritillaries in particular, the odd Painted Lady and an emergence of some fresh Brimstones. Generally the condition of some of the specimens can be described as "well worn". It never ceases to amaze me that SwF males continue to make advances to females when most of their wings have disappeared and they can barely fly - driven solely by the urge to procreate. Later, I sat for an hour exactly between two territories of Walls, anything that flew through was vigorously intercepted and engaged, even the Dandelion seed heads that drifted past were attacked. Occasionally the two Walls would meet at the junction of their properties and mayhem ensued, no wonder I struggled to find one suitable for recording as they are constantly engaged in combat.

Last Thursday found me at Houghton, I live in hope of finding the SwF forma valesina on my patch, plenty of SwF about and I searched in vain. A single, very worn, White Admiral was nectaring on the Hemp Agrimony, a once stunning butterfly now full of holes. Back at Whiteways I was entertained by some freshly emerged Common Blues which I recorded.



Only a few scratches on this one








 



Monday I ventured to Anchor Bottom, again in search of some 2nd brood butterflies, this time - Adonis Blues - alas very little to be seen in the extensive wild flowers that cover the south facing slope. I also failed to find any sign of the Silver-spotted Skipper colony that used to be below the rabbit warren. It was all a bit depressing until a fly by of a Small Tortoiseshell had me puffing up the slope. I finally caught up with it as it came to rest on a sun baked cow pat - amazing how such beautiful creatures are attracted to so much poo! Not long before these slopes are covered in countless Autumn Lady's Tresses, another sign of the end of the butterflying year.

 








Tuesday, Martin picked me up and we set off for Tillets Lane Fields near Warnham, ostensibly for some late season Purple Hairstreaks and a slim chance of a Brown Hairstreak. With clear skies we were scouring the tops of some magnificent oaks, wondering if we were too late, when down fluttered a silver object that crash landed right in front of us - another worn specimen of what we had come for. And to top it all, on the way back to the car I found a male Brown Hairstreak, unfortunately I managed only two out of focus shots before it disappeared for good.


Proof - but no prize for the photo.

Next up was Madgelands Wood, again a search for possible late Purple Emperor and perhaps a White Admiral - no such luck. A fleeting glance of a large butterfly in the top of an oak was probably a purply, but there again no positive ID. So none of our targets were achieved but we were rewarded by some obliging Southern Hawkers, posing in the sunshine that penetrates the rides.





We finished the day touring the rides of Houghton Forest, lots of SwFs, Red Admirals and Brimstones but for me the blue female Common Blue was the best of the bunch.

Monday, 1 August 2016

Silver-spotted Skipper

A short visit to Newtimber Hill, on the border between East and West Sussex and usually home to many Silver-spotted Skippers. A good excuse to get out and about and to get a year tick in the bag. The weather forecast for the early part of the week was not too good so we took advantage of the dry start to the day. When we arrived the weak sunshine had all but disappeared and it was a tad cooler than previous. Nonetheless, it wasn't long before we found a specimen perched up on a flower head and it was duly recorded. I had thought that this would be the first of many but they remained elusive - well hidden in the grass due to the lack of sunshine.
 



Several nice specimens of Chalk Hill Blue provided some material for the camera.


 



 
The Marbled Whites are just about over, this specimen looking tired and somewhat overwhelmed by the red mite Trombidium breei. This parasite has been particularly common at this site over the past three years.





The temperature dropped even further and fewer butterflies were on the wing, even the Meadow Browns struggled to get airborne - so it was time to call it a day.