30 August, 2019

Lovely Ladies

Another one of those 'misled goggle search' posts... [He is unashamed]

So, I took a wander on a sunny day [a week or three ago] to see if I could find any interesting little blue butterflies at a certain spot on my Patch. Once upon a time there were Chalkhill Blues there, you see, and others had reported Adonis Blues 'in the day'. Certainly it was possible. Definitely worth a look.

So, it being Ch and Ad2 time, I did.

What did I find? Well, only one Blue, which was a Holly [unsurprisingly]. But also more than 30 of these;

Painted Lady

Told you it was porn....  :D

The Painted Lady is not a laid-back insect. Always a challenge to get a shot. So it was a surprise that I managed to get what I did, you see, you'd normally have something like this;

What you'd normally call a good photo

But a combination of sun, wind, and lots and lots of butterflies gave repeated chances to get half-decent photos. Shockingly, sometimes they even worked.

Slightly noshed


Common variety

Small White

Meadow Brown

Not bad camouflage

Six-spot Burnet and Honey Bee

Garden Bumblebee

Buff-tailed Bumblebee

Red-tailed Bumblebee

B. lapidarius


That one's a migrant. :)

Autumn Squill

Bee IDs are, well, at least partially guesses, but looking them up properly would involve actual effort, so forget that ;)

Be Seeing You...

Seawatching 2.0 Pt. 3; It's Raining Sideways

In which we skip forward a week [from the last Seawatch], to find another Friday, another frontal system, and another trip to the Nose. [Oh shock]

Having gone over to Nights, I was able to get there in the morning, though not in great expectations, with the weather not due to arrive until 10-ish. [It tends to be a lot better for birds if they can be blown close to land under cover of darkness]

The weather was early, I was later than I intended [changeover week does hit a bit hard], and then I developed technical issues, so it was only 6 hours at the Nose instead of ten or so. But never mind, it was all good fun. :)

This not least due to my bumbleshoot. A sometimes overlooked or at least underestimated piece of seawatching equipment, trust me, you need a good one. I've had brollies destroyed or just plain ripped out of my hands and sent flying into the sea before, which perhaps explains my investing in an allegedly carbon fibre storm-proof - if horrific to look at - Thing. It's only partly storm-proof, I having by now repaired about half the storm flaps [each individually sprung {get me} and so requiring some interesting sewing when they break], but it's never inverted, and while I have almost been carried away by it, it's taken a lot of abuse. It gets wedged into the scenery [ie rock] to keep it stable. Ouch.

Yes, as you may have guessed, it rained quite a lot and the wind was feeling quite frisky. The brave [insane? I at least had a good reason to be there] mundanes who wandered past at the Nose were all, despite proper coats, utterly soaked. I got a bit damp about the hat band [it's still not properly waterproof yet] from cumulative light stuff.

All that rain got in the way of seeing things for long spells, but then maybe things weren't moving? [Ok, they were, at least to an extent]

And he opens up with a gull....

Not the sharpest, or indeed best of angles, or indeed the clearest of individuals, but you use what flies in range and your camera will work for [yup, still playing the 'you press the button all you want, I'm doing nooooothing!' game...]

We can point [working up] the long pointed hand, the small but visible inner primary window, the buff 'landing light', the very dark secondaries, the mostly un-notched greater secondary coverts, the plain dark tertials, the contrast of tail band [bad angle, there] and white rump, the pale head with dark eye mask, the chunky 'saawn-off' looking bill, and are those 2nd gen feathers in there..??

Here's an ID challenge for you!

I was tracking a moderately close Arctic Skua, trying to get it in a decent picture, and lo and behold...

But wait, aren't those both skuas? And if so, which one's the Arctic and wtf is the other one????
[Yes, really. Genuine challenge: Is the right one a dinky Arctic and the left a great big ??, or is the left a hefty Arctic and the right a..??]

Answers on a comment;

And you thought the last one was bad...

Yes, there is a bird in there, no it's not a Gannet or any gull sp.

Itsa Gannet
That's a Gannet. :)

Itsa gull

Itsanother gull

Well, this has wandered all over the place. Not helped by being written over weeks, plural.

So, let's grab the notebook and put some numbers up, then call it a day, yes?

::Wanders off to fetch it::


Ooh, yes hourly totals for common spp.! [Sometimes I do things vaguely correctly]
Gannet;       91  58  99  43  130  120
Kittiwake;   49  39  18   2   32   15
Manxie;      74  43  31  11   25   85

If you can't be bothered to add them up, that's 541 G, 155 K, and 269 M

A Puffin was the only auk. A Pom [juv], a Bonxie, and 3 Arctics were the skuas. 32+ Commic*, 3 Sarnie and a Black were the terns. 18 Balearics, 100 Fulmars [actually counted them this time]. 7 Meds, 5 LBBs, a BHG and a Common the passing gulls. Of note, a lone Stormie at 1412

[*Almost certainly all Common]

It was quite fun, though I gave up due to sunshine and no birds, then got BLEEEPed on as I got back to IMD; proper hard squall, too :(. Pesky weather...

Anyways, c'est ca.

Be Seeing You...

27 August, 2019


Right, time for some twitching!

Despite the evil BH traffic, I was determined to have a go for a Lifer - well, you have to - and so off I dared to the Backwater, where there might be some little butterflies.

There were loads of grockles, even more heat, and, after a mere 90 minutes of increasing stress, at least two Long-tailed Blue butterflies! Two seen dancing about each other, and two different ones photo'd individually.

Getting the camera to behave, especially facing psychic butterflies who know when you've finally got the autofocus to work on them, not that bit over there, was fun, but with vast amounts of electrons, I finally got the odd decent image;

No, not a hairstreak
[despite looking and acting like one!]

Those little tails were constantly wiggled about by resting butterflies, reducing good photos to about one in six of the sharp ones..

The same one

Note the damaged right wing - a freshly emerged [and disturbed before full inflation] individual.

Better angle, worse shot

Showing off the good wings

Favourite one!

"Yes, I am a Blue, thank you!"

Second individual
[intact right wings]

::Milkshake noise::

Bashful Common Blue

Female Holly Blue
Less bashful

Plenty of bees about

Of assorted spp.

And grasshoppers!

Who says butterfly-chasers aren't hardcore?

Got the angle

Not bad

Ok, that's enough butterfly porn.

I also hit the Black Hole on my way out - looking for the now becoming traditional Insane Wood Sand Shot - but that can wait for another post.

Long-tailed Blue - wow!!


And then I went to work.  [Holidays? Fah]

Be Seeing You...

26 August, 2019

Public Service Announcement


Due to a backlog of posts and my ever-increasing activity requiring more to be written, I hereby give notice that it's going to get busy on here. Yes, multiple posts a day and all that nonsense.

Exactly when this will start is a matter of uncertainty, but I'm hopeful that tomorrow will be that day. Then again, if it wasn't for absurdly cute if insanely frustrating butterflies*, that day would have been today, so I can make no guarantees.

At some point in the near future, I shall

Be Seeing You...

[[*They seemed to know exactly when my camera had finally - after tens of seconds, sometimes - decided to give me focus where I wanted it and then fly off...**]]
[[**I would like to apologise for my 'technical language' to all present.. I did try to keep it down. ::Ahem::]]

24 August, 2019

Brown, Yellow, Blue

A very quick and unusually rapidly turned-around post!

So, today I went about the Bay looking for butterflies. Most of my time was spent having Brown Hairstreaks play silly buggers with me; I got very prickled for, well, you look down there...

Then I went over to Berry Head to see if any Clouded Yellows were still there. On my way down into the Quarry, I noticed [as well as far-too-rapidly-moving Hummingbird Hawkmoths] several odd dark blue butterflies - like huge Small Blues, perhaps? - and duly zapped one;

Now that's well-worn!

It is, of course, a Common Blue. A very well-worn one! [Sorry if anybody got excited, but I've heard online speculation about Long-tails 'everywhere' and felt cold water was required..*]

One from Preston Down

But I was there for yellow ones, and well... In a shocking turn of events, there was one;

 Clouded Yellow!
Woo. :D
I was also there for other things, but they can wait.

Right, that Brown Hairstreak business. I got lots of flight views, but the only perching - aside from one sadistic little bugger which posed in front of Bailey Snr. - was done well out of easy view.. I got very prickled getting this;

Brown Hairstreak!

Yes it is. Moving by itself - look at the still, sharp leaf - you have bright orange underwing with white hairstreak visible, and even the tails - just above the leaf edge - and dark upperside just visible in right wings. Of course it decided to shake the second I had it finally focused.

Though undoubtedly awful, this is still the best BH shot I've ever got. No, I'm not leaving it there.

More was seen, and much better photos of other spp. were obtained [also nearly as bad ones :) ] and a longer post will be coming about it. Oh dear..

Be Seeing You...

[[*I'm not saying there aren't LTBs in country, just that there weren't any in view there this afternoon]]

21 August, 2019

Seawatching 2.0 Pt. 2, Having Another Go

Back at it the next day, after all the fun on Friday afternoon, but I found the weather far less [normal people would say more] clement. Still, I gave it three hours, and managed to see one whole skua [light morph Arctic] and a handful of Manxies.

With the wind forecast to be more WSW, I tried the Steps, but it seemed to be a lot more S, and I was a bit relieved to only get rained on once. Only a bit relieved, as the showers - mostly passing to the north - missing made it both hard to watch and led what did come by to be well out. Hmm. I reckoned most birds had already legged it, being closer to Start than Tor Bay. [This proved accurate]

Itsa Gannet

Very different birds to the day before. Also much larger chance for photos of horrid gulls! Uh oh....

Numbers; 32 Manxies, 124 Gannets, 75 Kittiwakes, 'lots' of Fulmars [I strongly suspected circling, so stopped counting in the thirties], 2 Razorbill, 11 Sarnies, a juv. Arctic Tern - which kindly posed against the light for locked-on ID  - and an adult light morph Arctic Skua. 3 Med Gulls, that YLG [I reckon it was the same one as the day before] with another that just might be one of those evil hybrids, and a wader sp. [small, grey, fast]... That's it.

Oh, and assorted commoner gulls. Some of whom even posed. Yup, gull shots....

Looking out

Ooh, what's that?

Yacht transporter;
maritime version of the flying aircraft carrier!

You were expecting gull shots? Well, I couldn't disappoint;

A bit silhouetted

A lot silhouetted

Juvie Kittiwake

BHG numbers starting to rise


Compare and contrast


Much prettier

Wait.. You're not a gull!

Nicely backlit, at least..

Ok, no more gulls.

Stripey sea

That last reminds me of one of the classic situations in seawatching, the Directions. Someone gets on something and tries to get everyone else on it. In this case you get the 'it's in the band of sunshine / bright water', to which comes the response 'which one??' 'the one below the horizon!' 'there's five bands under the horizon?!' etc etc....

Finally, some relief for those of you allergic to bad pictures of dodgy Herring Gulls. On my way out, with more sunshine flying around, a few things closer to and more in focus caught the eye;

Lovely draping of the buff clastic silt, there

Painted Lady
One of only two this time

Speckled Wood
Eye spot did its job, there!

Be Seeing You...