Sunday, 31 August 2014

Flippin' cheek!

While sat at the kitchen window this afternoon, Sarah saw movement at the bird feeder and drew my attention to this cheeky little sod. It had struggled up through the hedge and managed to heave itself onto the feeder with the help of the recently grown shoots of the Forsythia hedge!

On Friday Matthew and I had a day trip, to visit the bird reserve at Marquenterre. The entry fee, at 10.90 Euros for me and 7.90 for Matt was a bit eye-watering, as also was the wind. The lady at the ticket window asked where we were from (my French must have fooled her completely!!) and when I responded "England" she rooted around and gave me a brochure - in French!!
Birds were hard to find, tho' there was just one White Stork to admire
but it didn't stay long

There were Libellules by the hundred, all busy in flight and therefore no pictures from my camera apart from this one, and no, I haven't worked out what it is yet

Matt was fascinated by this Shield Bug of some sort, at about 1.5cm long relatively large

The wind was keeping birds heads down, as you can see from this one

and the swell was bouncing this Little Grebe youngster around rather a lot

By my reckoning there were a couple of hundred Spoonbill present, all at the far end of the long pool, except for this obliging character

Back home yesterday morning in the moth trap were two Copper Underwings, not a common species for my garden, and therefore worth a photo after the mention in my previous blog

A bit later I was clearing some gone - to - seed Spinach from the veg patch, and discovered this caterpillar, which my copy of Chinery shows to be a Dot Moth

but this one among the tomatoes in the greenhouse has me beaten, unless it's a very well marked Small White butterfly caterpillar, so any help with this will be welcome

Wednesday, 27 August 2014


There was in the moth trap this morning, among the 19 moths of just 5 species, this specimen which I am struggling to identify. Something tells me I know what it is but have so far been unable to dig it's name out of the old memory bank. Something else tells me it may well be a peculiar Dun Bar
That spell of wet cold weather certainly depressed the moth population in my garden, but as I type this the trap is going, and already there has been a Hummingbird Hawkmoth at the Lavender outside the window in the dusk. Great excitement tomorrow morning? We'll see
Here's that moth

Another day, and 2 more moths like this but rather more well marked, clearly Rosy Rustics, so that seems to be what this is. Also present this morning 2 Copper Underwings and an Old Lady among 83 moths of 19 species - much more interesting (except for the Large Yellow Underwings and Setaceous thingys)

All suggestions will be gratefully acknowledged

Monday, 25 August 2014

Red Sky at Night

At risk of being boring, this is a celebration of the sunset on Saturday evening, with a twist. Whether or not it presaged the horrible weather today is anybody's guess. By 6pm there were 33mm of rain in the gauge when I emptied it to avoid an overflow later tonight 
The twist is that the photographic class at next weekends Gardener's Association show is for a photo of a sunset. Accordingly last week I trawled through lots of old photos, and dug out these two possibilities
First up (and favourite) was this one taken in France a few years ago, when there was during the following night a most spectacular and unforgettable thunderstorm 
Then there was this one of a sunset over Dover Harbour, a strong contender because of the local connection
When we went over to Winklands on Saturday evening, the sun was beginning to go down and I couldn't resist this view from Waterworks Hill 
A bit later I was up on Sutton Down, and thought the prospect of some good photos was getting better by the minute

The view behind me was pretty good, too

and as time passed it all got better and better


The climax was a few moments after the sun had finally disappeared, and this picture may well now be the entry for the show. Maybe I'll take both and leave a decision until the last minute, to see which one looks best against the other entries
Whatever, it was a memorable sunset


Monday, 11 August 2014

Have you remembered your waterproof 'at?


I set off to walk the dog around Wanstone at  07.01 this morning, and was struck by the spectacular clouds on view. After some days of high pressure and clear skies, some castles in the air were a pleasure to see and enjoy

The contrast between looking South, where the warmth of the sea (presumably) causing clouds to form, and North, where the air was still clear was interesting. Can't see if the Peregrine was perched up in the towers this morning

Through the morning more Cumulus came sailing down the wind, here seen over the farm

and here from the garden

The clouds were still going late evening, too, there having been a few rumbles of thunder and showers through the day, all very frustrating if you're waiting to get on with the combining

This lot greeted me 2 days ago when I went out after breakfast to check the moth trap
This little moth is a Rosy Rustic, which I always think belongs as a character in a Thomas Hardy novel. Please note I've been using nice new egg-boxes this season

By my reckoning this should be a Garden Dart, only the fifth record for this garden since Phil got me started 6 years ago
There have been two Jersey Tigers to admire here: one on the 6th and one on the 9th 

Last week I walked the second butterfly survey out at Sutton/Maydensole. On this transect the path had been mown after the rape harvest

whereas on this one neither it nor the conservation margin had been cut. However there were few flowers in bloom, so Butterflies were relatively low in numbers on both sections. I did find 2 Brimstones and Brown Argus well into double figures, all too quick for my camera except one
Yes, it's a poor photo but it IS an Adonis Blue, somewhat worn,  and it wouldn't keep still

Back to Wanstone this morning now. One of the expressions birdwatchers use and take seriously, whereas others just look bemused and walk hurriedly away, is "Jizz" (see what I mean?). There is very little in this light to help identify this small bird, but the fact that it's August, the bird is perched on  a lump of WW2 surplus concrete along the cliffs alongside the frass and grass/weeds at the path edge is a massive clue, as is it's shape and the way it is standing
mind you, it did alter it's stance and stretch it's neck a bit as the dog went by, maybe it hadn't seen one before, a distinct possibility 

as, when I got past it and the light was better, it was a juvenile Wheatear, but you knew that already from it's Jizz, didn't you? Possibly it had grown up on a remote dog-free northern hillside

Smashing little bird, isn't it - have a look at Phil's photo of one here -

Sunday, 3 August 2014

Autumn be a'coming on

Strewth! It took less than a minute to upload these pictures, what a difference. It's amazing what an additional 8.5 meg upload speed will achieve!
I just discovered this photo of the Poplar Hawkmoth from the other day still on my camera, thought it might look interesting on here

I suppose this Peacock is a late summer insect rather than an autumn one, but it's beautiful anyway

Large Yellow Underwings are very definitely a sign of Summer passing on, this one quite an unusual colour and pattern, had me puzzled for several minutes

Garden Tiger is a summer moth, but I wasn't going to leave it out for the sake of being pedantic

Same applies to this Maple Prominent, an unusual one for this garden, only the second,  and very attractive

Silver Y turns up almost anytime, this one well marked and has the look of a Wild  Boar's face I reckon, or is the the beer?

This Grey Dagger very definitely a late season moth in this garden, and probably very difficult to see on  a tree trunk or gravestone - count the daggers, I make it at least 10

Lastly, at Winklands this evening, the Swallows were gathering on the wires and feeding over the wheat and maize together with an indeterminate number of Sand Martins, how's this for an alternative photo, swallows bums and the waxing moon

Altogether more than 50 were around, and see if you can find the solitary Sand Martin among this lot
PS - we reckon it's 10 in from the right, top row