Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Rodden Rambles - part two

When I first started coming to Rodden Reserve a few years ago, it was still quite a newly made reserve by the supermarket Asda as mitigation for building on a wet meadow area. All the paths were pristine gravel and the bridges brash new wood. I'm pleased to say that now the paths have 'weathered in' beautifully as have the bridges. The Purple Loosetrife helps soften the bridge here I think.
Here's my obliging Migrant Hawker. I had to wade through some foliage to get close to him, but he posed well both at rest and in the air.
I'd have liked to use this photo for my header but the background looked too messy when I tried it.
This one was taken while it was hovering against one of the bridges around the reserve.
I put this distant photo of these Blue-tailed Damselflies in because I'd never before witnessed two males trying to mate with a female at the same time. The one trying to muscle in had to give up in the end.
There are a couple of Grey Herons that use the ponds on the reserve and they always spook very easily. I had to do a lot of creeping to snap this sneaky shot through the foliage!
I know in my previous post, I said that I'd keep the Purple Loosetrife photos to one per post, but I'm not counting the one by the bridge. So here's the official one! (-:
Now on the whole I'd consider myself to be what I'd call a sociable birder. I like to share birding experiences with other like minded people. Sometimes though, there are advantages to going out on my own. On one of my morning walks around the reserve, I knew there were a couple of Sedge Warblers flitting about in the reeds and sedges that surround the main lake. So I stood in one of my favourite spots.....and stood.......and waited, watching subtle twitches of leaves, knowing those small skulking birds were just out of my sight. After about an hour of standing there with the occasional brief glimpse, I was able to take a few quick shots. In the one below, a spider was having a bad day!
'Clocked' again!

This one is just making a dive for cover so I left them in peace and carried on my walk.
I'll finish off my Rodden rambles in the next post.

Sunday, 29 August 2010

Rodden rambles - part 1

Over the last week or so I've managed to snatch an hour or two at my local Rodden Reserve. Here are some of the sights I've seen while wandering around. The Mill House always seems to nestle nicely along the River Frome which runs along our reserve here. If I lived there, I'd be sitting in that overlook area all day!
They say that women are good at multi-tasking, well this photo of a Common Blue was taken one handed while I was on the phone to my eldest brother trying to organise a birthday get together! Actually I'm amazed it came out at all! (-:
One of my walks was made early in the morning and this Common Blue female was just getting heated up by the sun, ready to unfurl for the day.

I don't know what this plant is, but the sunlight coming through those ping pong ball flower heads was lovely.
The Purple Loosetrife is irresistible at this time of year, I've relegated myself to one photo per post though! (-:
On one of the mornings I had a mini fall of warblers flitting through the foliage close to me. There were Willow Warbler (below), Blackcaps and Chiffchaffs.
This Chiffchaff (below) had obviously 'clocked' me, but carried on gleaning in the undergrowth despite my clicking camera!

Again, an unknown plant, but I liked how it looked with the strata of Purple Loosetrife in the background.
There'll be more from Rodden shortly...

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

See a rainbow....

and Yellow
and Pink and Green
and Purple
and Blue!
These images were taken on a couple of walks around my local Rodden Reserve just outside Frome. I was inspired by Mary as she is colour co-ordinating her posts at the moment! (-:
Thanks Mary. There will more images from Rodden Reserve to come.

Sunday, 22 August 2010

Butterflies on Buddleia and a Blackcap.

Here are some beautiful butterflies that were feasting on Mum's Buddleia as well as the Hummingbird Hawkmoth (featured in the previous post). The Peacock is one of our biggest butterflies and so showy. Each time I looked they seem to have multiplied. First one.....
...then two.....
.....then four! I'm trying to remember what is in the background in Mum's garden that would make such bold colours and can't think right now.
Red Admirals seem to spend most of their time with wings firmly closed....
....I did manage to get a brief peek of that striking pattern.....
.....before it was back to the usual posture!
I have to confess that I was playing around with my shutter speed settings as I was hoping that the Hawkmoth would come back and I'd get better photos with a higher shutter speed, but instead, the Hawkmoth failed to reappear and I got this effect on a Small Tortoishell. Nice and rich if a bit dark!
The Brimstone, another one that keeps its wing almost permanently shut. The veins and shape of this subtle butterfly make up for that though I think.

Finally, a Comma, not the freshest one in the world but still lovely to see.
Here is one showing it's underwing. I like the way it fades into the Buddleia flower that has gone over (well that's my excuse for a bad photo anyway)! (-:
While I was waiting patiently by the Buddleia bush a Blackcap started to search for and eat fruit from this Chinese tree (I don't know the name) very close to me. I think it must've been a young bird rather than a female (they both have brown caps) as it was so confiding. Blackcaps are normally quite skulking birds.

Here it's making its way to the Leycesteria shrub (common name is Pheasant Bush) which also has berries.

That's all from Mum's garden for now. I'll be up there again shortly though...

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Hummingbird Hawkmoth

Every week or so, I drive up to visit my Mum in the Cotswolds (about 60 miles) to help out in the garden. This last Monday, whilst taking a break from the weeding I decided to see what was supping on the fragrant nectar of her Buddleia. I was chuffed to discover this Hummingbird Hawkmoth dashing about frantically from bloom to bloom. This is only the second time I've seen one of these amazing creatures. It certainly didn't make it easy to get any decent photos, but below are some of the better ones I managed.

The Hummingbird Hawkmoth is an immigrant to Britain from southern Europe and north Africa, although it is believed that some do hibernate in the South West of Britain. They can be seen anytime from April through to December, though mainly during August and September. Apparently they have long been considered a messanger of good tidings in Italy and Malta. A small swarm was reported flying over the water in the English Channel headed to England from France on D-Day! I got this information from the excellent Field Guide to the Moths of Great Britain and Ireland by Paul Waring and Martin Townsend. The amazing illustrations are by Richard Lewington. I can't recommend the book highly enough.
There'll be more from Mum's Buddleia in my next post.

Monday, 16 August 2010

On the Levels

My friend Jane and I were hoping to get down to the south coast for some birding this last weekend. Unfortunately the winds were from the NE which is not a good direction for birding down there! So instead we spent a few hours down on the Somerset Levels. I didn't get my camera out an awful lot, but a some close cygnets were too tempting to resist.
After the invasion of Painted Ladies last year, this year has seemed pretty poor for them in comparison so I was pleased to see this one feeding on some Hemp Agrimony.
This Cormorant was preening quite some distance off so I thought to try digiscoping him. Not brilliant but it's always worth a try! (-:
I'm very glad that I have the Levels virtually on my doorstep when other plans go awry. (-: