Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The Met Office gets it wrong .... and right

Another weekend, another crap forecast from the Met Office. Saturday - sun all day, Sunday - cloudy until mid-day. So given that I usually go out for a few hours one morning it had to be Saturday, didn't it? Result - heavy cloud until 2pm. Combine that with a lack of any great interest at the wetlands and you are left with a few snaps of 'the usual'. There seemed to be a good group of bearded tits at one spot, but the bird reserve efforts to keep out the unwashed masses also keep out the birders, so I only ever heard them.
Waking up at 7.45 on Sunday revealed bright sunshine. I decided to leave Kay to a lie in and wander across the road to see if I could find the grasshoppers/crickets that we had consistently heard in the afternoons and evenings.
The hedgerows were pretty attractive in the morning sun. I'll spare you the pictures of berries (they were crap and so dumped), but the umbellifer leaves were a rival to any Japanese maple, a rose gall shone against the sky and the clematis seedheads were lovely. Until I moved down here I didn't know there was a wild British clematis, but it grows everywhere around Crick, with huge 'liana' stems in the trees Tarzan style. Not that I've tried swinging on them. Not yet.
One surprise on the road was a dead snake - too big for the slow worms we've found locally, but too squished and dried to identify.
A leaf caught in a web had a passenger, presumably enjoying the comfortable sofa. Note the leg at the top hooked onto the silk strand to feel for tangled prey.
Then finally some short chirps revealed 1,2 then 3 and finally 4 crickets coming out on the bramble leaves to soak up the sun. Dark bush I think. The females show the scimitar ovipositor, the males have those little residual wings which are what they use to make the chirps, rather than the legs. One of the males had no big hind legs, and at first I wondered if it might be some kind of juvenile form, until I realised it just had no hind legs at all.

So it's a thanks to the Met Office. But sadly for all the wrong reasons.

As always better quality images can be found in the 'latest' web album
by clicking here

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Would sticking a pin in the book be more accurate?

I thought if I bought a couple of insect books I'd have a fair chance of identifying a lot of the insects I stumble across, but it's not that easy - there are so many of the buggers!
As always the bug pictures show best on the web album - see links.
So here are a ragged red admiral (ship lost at sea perhaps?), small white and speckled wood butterflies. OK so far.
Then another scorpion fly - we seem to have quite a few around, but they just won't pose nicely. They're long, see, so I need to be side on with all the legs out the way. Or maybe a nice head shot. One day.
Garden spider and crab spider (yeah, I know, arachnids).
And the others I've not worked out yet.

I like the wasp mimic a lot, but just can't get a clear ID. If you know please tell me.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Respect your Elder

We're back at that time of year when getting up early to catch the best of the day, means getting up at a more civilised time, yet still catching sunrise (yes we had sun) and that lovely early morning light.

Some attempts to photograph adders again in the Forest of Dean fell a bit short of the mark due to a lack of adders. Much like the attempt to see the wryneck at Newport wetlands -apparently it was still there, and I probably walked past it several times, but after all the semi-naked octogenarians and dogs that Daryl Spittle described so calmly (here) it had found somewhere to hide for a few hours.

However in both spots the elder bushes were full of berries, wrens, dunnocks, blue tits and warblers (garden warbler, reed warbler, blackcap), whilst the hawthorn and brambles played second fiddle, but still threw up another reed warbler, the stonechat and whitethroat.

As always you can see much better quality versions of most of these pictures

by clicking here and looking the 'latest' album