Tuesday, 30 July 2013

In Drag.

Called in on friends in Uffington today, well actually I didn't as they were out, but took the opportunity to photograph a Silver Y Moth that was flutteringly busy in the garden with the Lavender. Thought i'd use the opportunity to have a look in the "Tom Brown's Schooldays" museum, but  it was one of those days, as although entry is free it opens from 2.00 pm. Got back to my motor to find some berk had parked behind me blocking me in , however with much sweaty effort interspersed with my opinion of the lack of parentage of the offending thoughtless parker, drove toward Baulking Fullers Earth Pit but took in Uffington Gorse a wood of some 10 acres with absolutely no sign of Gorse anywhere and apart from Buzzard and juvenile Blue tits the only other interest was a whacking great Bumble Bee and a couple of Speckled Wood Butterflies.
Moving on to the pit and full of  hope that a few Dragonflies would be at home I parked the car on the southern edge of the pit and was pleased to find a couple of Drags on patrol. A Common male Darter posed nicely and what I guess is a female of the same species. Lots of Butterflies and other Insects but rather a paucity of our feathered friends , of course there were the usual Coots and at least one pair of Swans along with some Ducks but these were at the farthest end from me and time dictated I should be on my way.

 I have been feeding barley in the garden to establish if any of the garden birds will eat this very hard grain and with the recent rains presumably softening it suddenly the sparrows were taking it.

Saturday, 27 July 2013

Hop , Skip and a Jump.

Returned to The Warren today and walked from the Gainfield crossroad entrance to the Carswell Golf Course, in fact today was a bit disappointing as I expected more and failed to find any sign of Lizard.
Saw Mottled Grasshopper (hop) Large Skipper (skip) and Common Soldier Beetles at rumpy pumpy (jump) along with a juvenile Green Woodpecker, Marbled White, an attractive beetle Oedemera Nobilis and quite a lot of Burnet Moths.

Friday, 26 July 2013

Managed to Hal-Finch it.

Car went in for service and MOT so I decided to walk across the fields to Hatford  then on to sandy lane and have a wander in the Warren , this is a large wood of mainly conifers but being on light sandy soil the non-treed parts are good for insects and following a chat with the ever smiling Pat of Barn Owl fame who told me it used to be good for Lizards set off in the once again searing midday heat to try my luck.
Butterflies were everywhere and the usual Meadows and Ringlets were to the fore but close on their heels were Skippers and Gatekeepers and I became quite excited when a Skipper with spotted wings settled in a Bindweed but after a while it became apparent it was just a Large Skipper. I eventually arrived at the Warren but had little time to spare as with so many Insects to look at and take photos of I had dawdled on the way. A call on my mobile told me the car would be ready in an hours time so arranged to be picked up at Hatford saving a mile or so walk, anyway the back entrance to the Warren was alive with Red Admiral, Peacock and many other Insects but after promising myself a trip back in the near future I just got to Hatford with a couple of minutes to spare although my car and driver were waiting. About 200 yards from my car I had managed to steal up on a pair of Goldfinch and nick a photo before they realised it, listening to the noise they were making I guess if they had computer access they would be on twitter.

                                          Mottled Grasshopper


                                          The Hoverfly below is I think Epysyrphus Balteatus.

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Whats the difference between an Admiral and a Red Admiral?

That's easy : The Admiral of the Fleet can be photographed but the Red Admiral just will not either stay still or will not open its wings to display its gorgeous colouring or at least that was the situation this afternoon when I found time to walk a field almost opposite my Stanford Home. The field in question was earlier in the season sown with wheat but to the chagrin of the farmer (A mate of mine) the weed population has won the battle of dominance and the result is an Insect paradise, this particular farmer is a credit to the farming community with his acceptance that our native wildlife is part and parcel of our place on this planet and his practice of leaving odd bits and pieces of land for the flora and fauna is most commendable and earns him my greatest respect.
Apart from a few Red Admirals, Peacock and Small Tortoiseshell were in profusion with loads of Skippers, Gatekeepers and assorted Bumble Bees.

                                          This was the only shot I managed of open winged Red Admiral
                                           OK it looks Spear Thistley but somethings not quite right

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

No Hidein Place

With the recent destruction of the Farmoor Pinkhill Hide through arson we all need to let Thames Water know how much we appreciate their efforts on behalf of the Farmoor Reservoir wildlife . I guess one of the most effective ways is to post on their website letting Thames Water know that the hide was an important part of the Farmoor wildlife experience. Birders as a regular group of visitors paying £2 for a days parking implore them to replace this facility in order for the scrape and surrounding vegetation previously overlooked from the hide to be monitored once again.
Today astride my trusty rubber wheeled steed I booted it into action with a somewhat lethargic pedalling action that took me in the afternoon heat to Sheepcroft Farm on the outskirts of Stanford in the Vale Butterflies were everywhere and I must have had a list totalling in excess of a dozen different species. Buzzard soared the thermals and a probable Brown Hawker Dragon flew restlessly giving me no chance of a photo, although a Banded Demoiselle that was sunning itself in midstream of the river Ock posed like a catwalk model.
                                           Banded Demoiselle
                                             Small Skipper

                                            Small Skipper

Sunday, 21 July 2013

Ke-Mo Sah-Bee, You have feathers !

There are quite a lot of Juvenile Starlings eating the scraps I put out for the birds in my Stanford in the Vale garden and they wear the Lone Ranger eye mask and gradually changing feathering that will eventually result in that most attractive star spangled plumage we associate these garrulous and somewhat greedy birds with.
Greenfinch and House Sparrow are doing well so far this year if my Stanford garden is anything to go by. The Blackbirds are thriving but the Red Kites must be struggling to find enough sustenance to see them through, that is if the ever soaring sight of them apparently looking but rarely finding food is any sort of reliable yardstick.

Saturday, 20 July 2013

A Cracker From Clackers.

Mark Cocker / Birds and People.   Tuesday, August 13, 2013 at 7.00pm, Blackwell's Book Shop, Broad Street, Oxford.
There are 10,500 species of bird worldwide and wherever they occur people marvel at their glorious colours and their beautiful songs. In the end, this is a book as much about us as it is about birds.
Join us for for a lovely summer's evening event, in which the author will be talking about his book and signing copies at Blackwell's Bookshop, Broad Street Oxford.
Tickets cost £3 and can be obtained by telephoning or visiting The Customer Service Department in the  the Norrington Room.  01865 333623 

Friday, 19 July 2013

Coming out of my Shell

Photographed what is probably a Yellow Shell Moth although I have my doubts, but then I have previously been unsure of this Moths identification as it can be an incredibly variable Moth and if it isn't Yellow Shell I have no idea what it is. Only other interest today concerned many Small Skipper in the garden inhabiting long grasses including Timothy Grass.
Cinnabar caterpillars in their black and yellow livery are at the present time to be found on many Ragworts.
                                               Possible Yellow Shell
                                             Small Skipper

Thursday, 18 July 2013

Latched on to another Gatekeeper.

Parked the car containing my Br. in Law and M in Law in the shade at the top of Workhouse Hill and walked a while along the Ridgeway . Marbled Whites were in profusion as were Meadow Browns , Small Tortoiseshell and a few Red Admiral but only saw a couple of Gatekeepers and I was made to pause at the sight of a Comma. I had hoped to see some of the Chalk downland Butterflies but in the available time it turned out to be fruitless.
If anyone tries to tell you that photographing Butterflies is easier than Birds they must be encountering Butterflies that I am not, for although the Ridgeway was awash with Butterflies they were incredibly elusive when it came to posing particularly the Marbled White.

                                              Male Gatekeeper
                                                  Meadow Brown