Monday, 1 June 2009

Final bird survey for Stourhead tetrad...or is it!

On Sunday I decided to do the last of four bird surveys for the area around Stourhead which lies about 15 minutes drive south of Frome. As I've mentioned in previous posts on this particular tetrad there is a great diversity of habitat around my planned two hour walk. The photos I took for this blog post are along a short stretch of bridleway (permissive footpath including horses) which links the farmland part of my walk to the lake area with both deciduous and coniferous woodland. I came across a pair of Golden ringed Dragonflies which surprised me as it is a bit early for them and also their favoured habitat is moorland or heathland. This one is the female with its long pointed ovipositor.Over the past couple of weeks there has been an invasion of Painted Lady butterflies across the country. They have migrated up from Africa and southern Europe in their thousands which is most unusual. Most years I would be lucky to see one at all, but this year I've seen them in droves, making a steady and determined flight northward. Most have looked quite tatty, but the one I photographed here doesn't look in too bad a shape.Further along the bridleway I came across this startled rabbit. He let me get off a couple of snapshots before bouncing away into the foliage.Finally, the Foxglove (Digitalis purpurea). The local common name in Somerset is Fairy Bells. This is a very poisonous plant, but is used in small doses as a stimulant to the heart. I don't see it often around here, but it reminds me very much of time spent birding in the county of Cornwall in the extreme south west of England were it is abundant along the country lanes there.
The reason I say 'or is it' in the title is that I did this survey on the Sunday 31st of May, when officially I should only have done it after the 1st of June! So, I should really do it all again sometime in the next couple of weeks which I wont mind at all as it is such a lovely area! (-:
PS: Something I keep meaning to mention. At the moment we have our yearly three week program on the BBC called Springwatch were the BBC sets up live cameras to watch all sorts of nature going on in the country. It is on for an hour each evening from Monday to Thursday which is a real treat. Anyway, if you're interested in watching webcams of nesting birds etc then click on this link to watch various nests live. Of course, to my blogging friends in foreign parts, don't forget the time difference. . The actual webcams are on every day for the next two weeks now and shut off at midnight British time.


Roy said...

Hi Jen, the dragonflies where a really special find, great photo.
These Painted Ladies. I have only photographed one and it was very tatty and wouldn't post it. I have seen a couple flying at a rate of knots across open fields and no hope of getting a shot at it. I don't know where all these thousands are as I haven't seen them yet.
Do you need an excuse to go there again and do that walk?. I reckon it will be a permanent fixture for you as its a great area.

Eve said...

Great post again Jenny, love the bunny too! It must be nice having foxglove just growing wild! I left mine up north! Maybe I'll get some more soon.
Thanks for the video link, I'll check back tomorrow when they are up an running.

NatureStop said...

Lovely dragonfly and the Painted Lady!!We really enjoy your walks(as usual).Looking forward to more pics when you revist:)

Mary said...

That dragonfly is beautiful and so is the Painted Lady! I really like the foxglove and would love to have a garden full. I think I planted some once and they didn't do too well.

ascu75 aka Don said...

Love the foxglove I wont have them because they may be harmfull to the grandchildren but they are beautifull Was the survey for the BTO? I never rejoined this year but have done them in the past, I am not so mobile now so gave it a miss. XXX Don

Jenny said...

Hi Roy, I'm not sure where the majority of the painted ladies have been seen, but certainly my experience has been of seeing hundreds over the last few days. These tetrad surveys have shown me several local areas that I will hope to revisit in the future that I probably never would have visited otherwise.

Hi Evie, I would imagine that foxglove would do quite well in the uncluttered understory of your woods there. Did you watch any of the baby bird nests yet? Cute or what!

Hi Arunava and Shantana, I've got some more photos to post from this walk, but will probably take more when I go back as well! (-:

Hi Mary, it might be worth trying again as they are such lovely showy plants and loved by bees as well which are doing so badly all over the world.

Hi Don, yes these tetrad bird surveys are for the 4 year British Trust for Ornithology atlas. It started in 2007 so a couple more years to go. I've already put myself down for a square on the Somerset Levels for next year which should be fun. I'm sorry that you can't do them anymore.

Shellmo said...

So many lovely finds in your area! Liked that bunny & dragonfly especially!

Kelly said...

...lovely post. The Painted Lady is so pretty. Thanks for their Natural History. It always amazes me to think of something as delicate as a butterfly migrating such long distances. Mother Nature is truly amazing... The little bunny surrounded by the green leaves is adorable (all he needs is a little blue coat with buttons).

Quiet Paths said...

Once again a very green and lovely set of pictures. It reminds me of our west coast you get so much rain! I love foxglove!

Jenny said...

Hi Shelley, I'm glad you liked the walk, maybe I'll find completely different things to photograph when I have to go back to redo the survey!

Hi Kelly, I always marvel at the Monarch's epic journey. For supposedly delicate creatures they seem remarkably resilient!

Hi Christine, we've actually been rainless for quite a few days now which has been great. I know you love Cornwall, so if you ever visit that county, then you'll have to try and make sure that Foxgloves are flowering at the same time! (-:

Quiet Paths said...

A splendid idea about Cornwall. We just saw the snippet of a program with Cornwall as its backdrop. I'd love to see it and have you in tow as well! Maybe we can go find those palm trees.

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