30 June, 2021

Out For A Toddle. Pt.2 Elation, More Elation, Then A Nasty Surprise.....

After my epic yomp across t'Moor, I decided to do something a bit quieter and more laid-back the next day.

A gentle amble about the East Devon Commons in search of Silver-studded Blues and Small Red Damselflies seemed to fit the bill nicely.

The weather having been a little intransigent - again no Solstice sunrise for me, though I got lots of rain instead.... - I was a little worried about the butterflies, but my pet spot came through again and I found, well just one, but he posed quite nicely;

Silver-studded Blue

Well worn, I reckon this one's survived the rain.


Note the lack of spots in the inside half of the forewing, characteristic of Silver-studded against Common.

Green Hairstreak

..and another, in the sunshine!

Heath Spotted Orchid
plus hangers-on!

And now, just when you thought it couldn't get better...

Small Red Damselfly

Oh what a star!

Right after I took that, however, I noticed I had some company. Big flies, sunning themselves on the boardwalk. Right, photo time!

Wait a minute...


"Are you alive?"

Aaaaaaaaaarrrrgghhh! Horseflies!!!
[I'm - now at a safe distance - wondering if the differences are individual variation or two spp.?]

Fleeing to the butterfly meadow, I discovered I was even less safe there,

Tabanus bromius?*

It should be noted that all these ones are males; you can see the third one's non-biting mouthparts there! Thus the pictures, as you can't get that close to females without them taking an er, 'interest'...
Speaking of, said females were definitely present, and made life very unamusing for me.

Arg, just putting those Horrors up makes me itch, so I'll stop here and carry on with another post, as yes, I have MORE PICTURES!


Be Seeing You...

[[* Horizontal line through eye indicates this sp.? ]]

29 June, 2021

Surprise! A Wild Warbler Chase

Monday saw a surprise. The Veteran had found a couple of Reed Warblers at the Nose, the Teacher told me. Reeds, in late June?? Hmm...
Much better date for other sexier acrocephalus spp., so they had to be checked, as Pete had only had glimpses and couldn't rule said rarities out...
I found lots of assorted insects about - as I wandered down to the First and Last bushes, fully expecting to find nothing - and then to my shock, heard the dulcet tones of an acro. sp. from the biggest and lastest of said bushes.. An acro singing in short bursts, most like a Reed but with some mimicry including odd high whistles which were very non-Reed sounding.... Also singing from inside a bush, arrived at the end of June...
Hmm. Most likely an odd Reed, but you never know, right? Marsh can be little gits, and what does a singing Blyth's sound like..?? Errr...??

So I needed to see and ideally get a photo of it.
 See it? Ha.
 Eventually, after many false alarms with a brown and white Chiff and a female Whitethroat [both of which needed optics to distinguish them when moving through bushes..] The bird in question came out and moved through the bushes too. At that moment, of course, assorted mundanes show up, from both directions, just as I'm lining up the camera [which I went for over the bins; evidence to all beats proof to me, doesn't it...]

This is the only shot that even hit the target;

Below centre, facing left...

Let's have some other pics, shall we?
Facing right
Facing right
Facing right

ID thoughts?
Now, the camera lies. Last first; that's the very brown and white Chiffchaff. You can see it's a Chiff [plus it posed, so can't be rare], but doesn't - reflecting full sun into the lens - loook anything like as brown as it did in the field. It didn't call once, btw.
Next up is a naughty one, but a female Whitethroat pulling a banana pose couldn't be left out! :)

Above that is what I thought on BOC view to be The Bird, with raised crown and thin bill and all, but on the computer, you can see pink legs and strongly contrasting tertial fringes, so it's the female Whitethroat again...
Above that... tail tip of course hidden, as are legs, head... It's also in shade, looking far less brown. 
I got a look at head and shoulders of the bird iself through bins, and can attest it looked very Reed-y, with chestnutty brown uppers, small super, long bill with yellow at the base, and white throat. Yes it was singing when I was looking! But it never called once [neither did the 'throats] while I was there.

Later, the Teacher arrived and got a load of singing and calls [though he did have playback to help him], all Reed.

There is a saying - which I may have repeated too many times yesterday - "Weird-acting commons are far more likely than rares".  Yet more proof, dear readers.

Though now I wonder, what is the latest date for arriving Reed Warblers? [They turned up on the coast and started singing, they're not early-leaving failed/non- breeders, are they?]  Also, are any other birds still moving north? Or are these just an aberration?

Questions questions...

Coming up, more of what's been and even more insects

Be Seeing You...

26 June, 2021

Out For A Toddle. Pt.1 A Red Letter Day

My traditional solstice week off work - once said Solstice had finished raining on me -  started off for the second time with me going off for a wander up on t'Moor.

You know, that place up there with all the bogs and Gorse and stuff. Granitey goodness. :D

Bits I hadn't been on this year were too many to list, so I just went "Ah I'll get up there and see how it goes"

It went nigh on 15 miles, as it happened.


Now, normally you'd get a nice report about where I went and some lovely scenic shots of things granitic, but not this time.

Why? Well, it was a red letter day due to birds, and because of some of those birds, I have to either keep my mouth shut about them or not give any hint as to where I was. I'm going with B.

What could I have seen that could merit such secrecy?

Observe, regardez;

One, two, [just at the top] three!

Four scarpered very quickly, but one poor thing went the wrong way and gave a better view,
"Wait for me!"
"Beep beep!"

Those being the 5 chicks of the female Red Grouse I'd just walked into! Flushed from maybe 15' and she neither went far nor called at all. Very unusual as normally they make a right noise and scare the wotsits out of you! 
I walked on a few paces, slow and careful, in case I could get a picture, but she'd ducked down into cover. Then from almost next to me, a multitude of cheeping started up and the little covey legged it after her. I couldn't believe it and so was a few seconds slow with the camera, thus 'running away' photos. [Also blurred due to petulant autofocus....]

Now all my secrecy makes sense, doesn't it? You get nothing beyond 'Dartmoor', sorry. I will only add that I was somewhere I was supposed to be.

Now, what else to put in? Oh, how about some more Red?

Red Kite!

Not where the grouse were, though you'd have to be very good to ID the background.

This lovely thing [note moult centre in primaries] attracted three juvie Ravens, which had all sorts of fun. The dogfight [actually that'd be a furball] was spectacular, and only let down by always heading away from me, so no close WOW shots [not that my camera was feeling helpful], and no fight shots, due to background. 
The kite won, btw.

Much closer to;

Four-spotted Chaser
with Robber Fly sp.

The least flighty 4-spot I've ever met, much more interested in eating his poor 'innocent' victim than evading me.  :)

Small Heath

Round-leaved Sundew

It was a glorious day, made even better by not only first Red Grouse chicks - so cute, sooooo cute - but first photos of any grouse ever!



Be Seeing You...

[[FYI. Full details are available to the County Recorder on request]]


Not by any means my longest quiet spell, but an explaination nontheless:
I've been - ok technically still am - on my annual midsummer week off. As such, I've been too busy having fun to talk about it. [[Yes, yes, bad blogger...]]
This will change, trust me, and hopefully soon, but until then, here's a wee tasty;
Beautiful Demoiselle
Hmm, are you perhaps wondering: "Wait...  If that's a throwaway teaser, what the vickers has he got?!?"
Ah, the antici....................................................................pation.
Be Seeing You...

21 June, 2021

That Patch Place.

It hasn't all been swanning off after bugses, assorted.

I have [finally] some photos of things on Patch - and indeed on-Skygarden - that need reporting, so here we are.

First up, I happened to be about the southern bounds* of the Patch on Friday, and despite continuing horrid weather [though now overcast and muggy instead of sunny and muggy...]. I didn't expect to find these, I must say;

Southern Marsh Orchid

Another one


The only orchids the council haven't mown to death... 

Also on the same site;

Stinking Iris

Ridiculous name, that... 'Gorgeous Iris' is much better, I think.

At Home, I finally have some birdy pictures to share;

juvie Blackbird

juvie Greenfinch

...or two.
Also juvenile Blue Tits, but a bit too mobile to catch on camera.


Why the fuss? Present and singing for at least a week! This is a bit of a deal on the Patch. Why? Well, of the 'regular' finches, Chaffs are the rarest here, especially in Summer. I've fingers crossed. :)

Robin, perched on feeder.
[They like the suet nibbles]

Also past needing

I'm waiting for the Dunnocks to learn, now...!!!

Ah, what a year.

Hmm, wonder what's next?

Be Seeing You...

[[* That's the urban bit, too..! ]]

19 June, 2021

We're Going On A Bug Hunt... Pt.3; A Return To Form

Having covered myself in glory and Marsh Frit photos [you do not want to know how many more there were] without getting covered in bog [Or perforated by coobeasties], I went on a slightly long way home.

Well, I had designs on getting a nice Scarce Chaser photo - 'cos they're wonderful things - and knew a place to go where that had been possible in the past without long routemarching through head-high stingy nettles.... 

I did find a nice male Scarce Chaser, who even found a female while I was there! BUT [yeah, you knew it was coming] he insisted on sitting in a horribly just out of reach spot for decent range photos. If I'd been unnaturally tall I'd have been fine, but I'm not.

What I managed to get will come in a moment, but we have clickbait your poor eyes aesthetics to think of, so here's someone I met on my way out. Isn't she gorgeous??

Banded Demoiselle

Ideally, of course, I'd get her AADB, but she poseth where she willst.

Scarce Chaser? Yeah, ok...

Blue eyes, dark thorax, blue abdomen,
black patch at base of rear wing

Even better pic;

Pair in wheel position

Let's look at something else, shall we?

The first Emperor
[of 2021]

Honey Bee

Annnnnnnd we're done.

Be Seeing You...

[[Now where'd that vulture go...??]]

17 June, 2021

We're Going On A Bug Hunt... Pt.2; The Soggy Bit

Having done my duty at the Nose, I headed off after Goal Number One.

After many years' woe, it was a markedly different matter this time around. Marsh Fritillaries are very easy to find, if you know exactly where to look.

I do, now. And lo and behold;

Marsh Fritillary

At least 14 present at this site, though no other butterflies other than a few GV Whites.
Marsh Frits like marshy ground, and here you get that in spades; walking boots and gaiters minimum, and bog-hopping skills required. :)  Yes, that's right; you can't go around it, you can't jump over it, you've got to walk through it [carefully, too, as there are many lovely plants to not step on. Also deep bits best not stepped into... :) ]
The place is alive with Heath Spotted Orchids, and the MFs love basking on them, so you get extra photogenics. :D


And another
[Marsh Frit on actual marsh!]

So sharp and fresh... [Of note for non-butterfly obsessives, the shininess is a feature of Marsh Frits]

Large Red Damselfly with
unlucky moth sp.

Perhaps a reason for low butterfly numbers? [Kidding, I blame the weather*]

 Keeled Skimmer

Ragged Robin


Can I resist more MF pics? Can I BLEEEEEEP....

Waiting for a wing lift that never came.

Blimmin' grass...

Ok, ok, that's enough.

Still to come; [Yes, still!] we have a final stop, where I go after yet another rare-ish insect and sort of succeed, but get something purdy as well.

Be Seeing You...

[[* And the ongoing insect omnicide, of course... ]]

15 June, 2021

We're Going On a Bug Hunt... Pt.1; Madness Is In the Eye Of the Psychiatrist

With all manner of Real World issues [both sane and really really not] getting in the way of my proper business of chasing wildlife, I only had Sunday to play with. [Ok, I did joyously count no less than 8 Swift low about here on Saturday - could we be up to 4 pairs??* I am hopeful.]

I got going fairly early, not that it mattered much as even if I'd got to the Nose at first light, there were ten tents set up in the Quarry. Yes, TEN. I have a photo if you don't believe me. Nice big fire going, too. [Council does nothing, as per]


I carried on anyway, because that's what you do - not expecting anything sulphurous, of course - but you have to check. [[That's determined, or dedicated, not craaaaazy, btw]] 
I got well bitten by assorted flora - it has been two weeks, so a metre's growth is not that surprising... - for no unexpected birds. Only one Whitethroat singing - had been hoping two or even three would get along - but the auks offshore seem to be doing ok. I did get a first for year which even posed for me, so here's something pretty;

Common Blue

Not too shabby.

Offshore, another pleasant surprise

HMS Prince of Wales

She turned into the wind, but despite waiting with baited breath [and poised camera] didn't launch anything. Oh well, I'll get F35 eventually!

More scenic views;

I mentioned insects, didn't I?

There were a few about

Yellow Shell

Broad-thighed Beetle [male]
on Hawkbit

Females are more svelte

Those Frenchies still can't find him...

Mr. Kestrel

It got very hot, very fast, and I had places to go and insects to hunt, oh yes.

Coming up, we see what happens when you know where to go and manage to do so at the right time, for once...

In the mean time, I shall 

Be Seeing You...

[[* Yes, a whole four pairs in prime habitat. Ok, what WAS prime habitat before almost all nest sites were destroyed by home 'improvements'... FFS ]]