Friday, 25 July 2008

25 July 2008 - Work

Little of note, until a call from Adam alerted me to news that Adrian 'Hagar' Harris had picked up a very young Little Grebe chick that had probably been caught up in the current and washed downstream.

"Bring it down now", I suggested to Adam. Time was very much of the essence as we needed to avoid this Little Grebe thinking that Adrian was its father. Most wildlife that Adrian has cared for becomes inprinted very rapidly - in the past this has included House Martin, Swallow, House Sparrow, 337 Canada Geese, a Ladybird (called 'Spot') and several clothes moths that simply wouldn't depart.

I phoned The Bearded One as he is rather partial to Little Grebes in the hand.

Eventually, after wandering round the lake, we located the nest under a weeping willow tree - we let it go. Later that evening the adults had returned to the area so hopefully 'Little Hagar' was reunited with Mum and Dad - ahhhh.

Large Tortoiseshell - Round II

Round II of the Large Tortoiseshell started some time after Round I ended.

Were we beaten? We were not.

Were we confident? We were not.
Were we slightly mad? We were!

First up in our stalking was the first of 4 Weasels!

This one was clambering through drystone walls looking for stuff.

This grotty male Lulworth Skipper wasn't quite as distinctive as the females with their crescents on their fore-wings.

Just one of the many Marbled Whites that inhabited this meadow.

Common Blue - and you may judge from the last three species that I wasn't really looking for the Large Tort in the right habitat (on account of it being seen only on bramble bushes...).

Grass Vetchling - always good to find (cos I can identify it!).

Starting to look in the bramble bushes this Digger Wasp spp provided a short but welcome interlude.

After several hours of searching, it was becoming apparent that the Large Tortoiseshell was playing hard to get - if it was here at all! In a bid to widen the search area I ventured in to nearby gardens to check Buddleia bushes and then along the entrance track to the Country Park - all to no avail.

And then, as I wandered aimlessly like a cloud along the road, I suddenly heard some lunatic shouting my name, "Baldie, Baldie!". "Come now, I've got it. Jump through the hedge!".

I jumped through the hedge to find Zebidee and the Bearded One gawping at point blank range at some bramble blossom - and sure enough, the Large Tortoiseshell was sat up on the blossom feeding away in the sunshine.

Large Tortoiseshell - 2 days, 700+ miles and 13 hours of searching!

Worth it? Of course!

It was a hairy little monster.

My 65th butterfly species in the UK.

With the target under the belt it was time to depart the site - sad really as we'd spent so long their it was beginning to feel like home.

Next up was the Hooded Merganser at Weymouth. In active body moult, it started off well as it immediately swam away from me. Showing the new white feather tracks, this wary 1st summer male was doing its best to get on to The Bearded One's UK life list.

Then it swam over to a little girlie who was lobbing bread to the other ducks in a bid to see if they were wild. Our little merganser took bread and even feathers off the water surface.

As a final test we played a little classical music to see what it would do. This little chap rose up out of the water and started conducting. Was this bird wild? Was it b*****ery!

With things going from excellent to appalling we decided to head to Portland Bill and look for Wall Lizards in the quarries. With some excellent directions from Mr A Teapot of Essex and some dreadful directions from Paul Lambourne (who clearly tried to send us off in the wrong direction) we located several of these wee quitters. This well-marked male being a little easier than the females.

Female Wall Lizard - the note big legs (if you want to).

This lizard had lost its tail in an encounter with something - we called it 'Stumpy', but it didn't seem to mind.

And finally, Common Restharrow - and then a 175 mile drive home!

Thursday, 24 July 2008

20 July 2008 - Operation 'Cock up!'

After paying homage to Mr Darwin, news on the pager of a Large Tortoiseshell butterfly at Durlston Country Park in Dorset was, to say the least intruiging.... A quick search of the Durlston CP website produced.... er.. bugger all. A quick search of the Dorset branch of Butterfly Conservation site produced... wait for it..... news that a Large Tortoiseshell butterfly had been seen several days earlier.

Action Plan:

  • Drive to Durlston CP on the morning - see the Large Tort (a new species)
  • Drive to Arne see Sika Deer (a new species)
  • Drive to some spot near Bournemouth see Green Lizard and Wall Lizard (two new species)
  • Drive to New Forest - see Bog Orchid, Sand Lizard & Smooth Snake (three new species)
  • Drive home, collect Good Lady Wiff (a rare species)
  • Drive to pub and celebrate a good day in the field in the arms of my beloved (common as muck!)
The reality

  • Drove to Durlston CP - got there at 10am
  • Wandered around with Zebidee (of Magic Roundabout fame) for 5.5hours
  • Sauntered off for 20 mins to look for Lulworth Skippers
  • Got news the Large Tort had shown
  • Ran back and missed the f... f.... flippin thing!
  • Stood around for another 3 hours waiting for the... f... f.. Large Tort
  • Gave up
  • Drove to New Forest
  • Didn't find Bog Orchids
  • Drove home
The sequence of pictures was, it has to be said, not quite what we were looking for...


Hedge Woundwort

Great Green Bush Cricket

Tufted Vetch

Wasp Spider

Fallow Deer in the New Forest

Saturday, 19 July 2008

19 July 2008 - London & Home

Today was an 'ex' day - not filled with lunchtime walks around ponds and meadows. Instead, a train ride bus journey to Westminster Abbey. Usual twitches are at a slightly more frenetic pace than this one. Today was an entry fee and a wander round the Abbey until reaching our quarry - the resting place of Charles Darwin. Next to Sir Isaac Newton, Darwin's tomb is a much more modest affair than most others in the Abbey, and probably for some well understood reasons.

Next on the 'ex' list was this drangonfly exuvia clinging to the front wall of the house. The Good Lady Wiff found it as she was bending over to pick up an extremely heavy bag containing my evenings supply of finest beers. An exuvia is always a, "What's that?" kind of find - this one all the more remarkable as the immature dragonfly (presumably either a skimmer or a chaser) would have had to walk for nearly 60 feet from the lake to reach this point - "Well done, you", we mumbled at the thought of such a long distance marathon the little thing must have accomplished.

18 July 2008 - Work

Gipsywort - now in glorious flower... In days gone by Dr Campbell would send me out looking for this plant in the hope of a rare aphid lurking amongst its leaves - now I find it a 100metres from the office. Your gypsy in days gone by (I assume) used Gipsywort to blacken their faces - dunno why, probably to make them look as though they had been slaving over hot burning tyre to cook their food.

Dovesfoot Cranesbill - flowers tiny and quite dark purple in comparison to Small-flowered Cranesbill which is pale lilac

And this little thing (again tiny flowers) also found in the grass. I'm opting for Black Medick on account of the combination of tiny flowers (ruling out Hop Trefoil) and very hairy bits (which I think rules out Lesser Trefoil). Will have to see if it produces small black fruits in due course.

18 July 2008 - Lakes - evening

Couldn't resist a another quick rtip out to take a few more bat snaps.

17 July 2008 - Work

Ribwort Plantain - A common plant of the roadside, perhaps not quite as amazing as the Greater Plantain of yesterday. I guess as kids we all picked these to make 'guns' out of them, so we're all familiar with the flowers.

Now I thought this was going to be an easy identification - it was big and having seen many before. I thought it was a hoverfly spp but now think it is probably a fly spp. I thought it had hornet-like features and now think I'm going mad!

And I don't know what this is either... With the rounded fins, etc, I am guessing that it is carp related. The orange eye was very 'orangey'.

Wednesday, 16 July 2008

16 july 2008 - Work

Little of note today in a short lunchtime stroll. One Comma butterfly, did put in a star performance and brighten up the undergrowth but few other creepy crawlies put in an appearance.

Greater Plantain - very much considered one of the ugly ducklings of the plant world, close-up the flower spike is quite superb - amble reward for getting down on my hands and knees to have a look! Bit of luck and I'll find some nice Ribwort Plantain tomorrow...

Tuesday, 15 July 2008

15 July 2008 - Work & The Lakes

Common Fumitory showed well - a smart little plant and surely too nice to have the word 'common' in its name. The fumitories are related to poppies - but different.

Yarrow - and probably Common Yarrow - cos it is common. But, then again, as it is the only Yarrow, and there isn't a rare one, it's just called Yarrow.

The Tawny Owl continued to do its thing - only one seen today.

A late evening bat walk with The Bearded One, was largely unsuccessful - if the aim was to see bats. This Daubenton's bat was one of several skimming low over the water. Don't know what was causing the reflection at its rear end... a bat ring just seemed too improbable - I guess we'll never know.

And this little chap was unidentified as it tried to land in my hair...

This Common Frog ended the evening

Monday, 14 July 2008

14 July 2008 - Work

After the tree truck searching successes of last week, there was but one thing to do - more, er, tree truck searching.

First trunk - a Garden Carpet moth.

Not on a trunk, for that one moth was the highlight (well, sort of) of my trunk search today, instead looking at my feet produced (in addition to my feet) this nice clump of Field Green Speedwell. It wasn't looking forward to the speedwell family, but these were pretty. After three, say "Ahhhhh". 1, 2 ....
Gall on Willow caused by Pontania proxima - or one of the similiar gall-causing beasties that occur on willow.

I'm losing interest in ladybirds! This, I think, is a 10-spot Ladybird - argue with the identification if you care, for I do not!

13 July 2008 - Hamstreet Woods

So, The Good Lady Wiff and I ventured out this sunny afternoon to soak up the rays and find some White Admirals feeding on teh brambles at Hamstreet Woods.
Did we find any White Admirals? Did we XXXXXXXXXXXXX!!!
Still this Gatekepper did its best to entertain us.

Foxglove - pretty, ornamental and just 'nice'.

Wood Sage - doubtless, once used as an ancient stuffing for Woodpigeon or Hedgehog or Rat. These days, we have Paxo when we need to stuff a Woodpigeon a Hedgehog or a Rat.

I dunno what this is and neither does The Wiff.

Ichmeumon Fly spp - one would assume.

And when all else fails, the wind blows and no White Admirals show, some folk got up to their own entertainment. The naughty little things.