Monday, June 22, 2009

Mostly the same - but different

In the last week our garden mullein moth caterpillars have been piling on the pounds, now more cocktail sausage than twiglet. I loved this view of one apparently sucking up the downy verbascum.

A post or two ago I put up a picture of a male Oedemera nobilis, with the pantaloon like back legs. Here the slim legged female version demonstrates the difference.

During some weeding I disturbed this white plume moth which went on to pose rather nicely to show the feathery wings. A tricky one to get the plane of focus right in the iffy light - this was my best handheld effort. Please ignore the bindweed - although I'm at the stage of feeling I can't anymore.

Getting up later than planned on Sunday I had a couple of hours in the Forest. Driving along near Speech House I saw a bird up ahead fly across the road and perch briefly on the top of some bracken. Always worth a closer inspection, so I slowed to see a male redstart flitting around. Then the female showed ....
and again. Nest or fledgling? She dived into the bracken nearby and I had a fleeting glimpse of a food pass to this little one - lot of vegetation in the way though, so sorry about the quality of the shot.
Quick snap and i retreated to watch from under a tree. There were at least two fledglings calling in the area, and possibly even two pairs of adults. Good to see, although that tick isn't ideal for a wee soul like this.
As always some better quality versions HERE Use the slideshow to view on a black background.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Like geese in clover ....

Another weekend on call meant the Forest was out of bounds, so it was back to the wetlands, not least in the hope of finding the little owl being mentioned in recent posts.

Some have grumbled about the RSPB presence and the impact of the visitor centre, complete with kids play area. I certainly feel it's bad they no longer sell bacon butties. Bird-wise though an early visit produced the owl - perched on top of one of the rides in the play area. Well I suppose it is a little owl.
The canada goose family were also at the centre, making the most of the daisy/clover lawn area, and when I was leaving had wandered into the wildflower grassland. I kind of like these shots. Peaceful.
Meanwhile the owl had moved to scowl from another perch.
Out at the lagoons a swan was enjoying the weather,
a reed warbler was too busy to pose properly,
but the recently reliable sedge warbler
and a whitethroat caught the sun nicely.
A rabbit came quite close to have a look while I was sitting patiently waiting for the whitethroat, although eventually it seemed to cotton on, thumped it's hind leg and nipped back into the brambles.
Back home a froghopper led to the macro lens getting an airing
so I picked up the mullein moth caterpillar munching on a mullein (verbascum) that had seeded from somewhere. Intriguingly there is a type of verbascum called a moth mullein, as well as a moth called a mullein moth.
At the pond was a large red damselfly,
and I've dug out a tweaked shot of a pond skater and a scorpion fly I took some weeks ago. the scorpion fly pic is fairly rubbish, but it's the first shot I've got of a male with a proper 'sting'.

As I said last post - it's a lovely time of year. Check the 'latest pictures' album for better quality shots HERE

Friday, June 12, 2009

A lovely time of year

Don't you just love this time of year? But way too many pictures! I've put a few in this post, but more and overall better quality shots can be seen in the 'latest pictures' album here. Use the slideshow - it's the best way to view.

My dad recently had a heart bypass op, so I had a week up north (Widnes), where I managed a couple of early morning trips out. One was to Marshside on the Sefton coast, so there are some wader shots later on, but the other times were visits to Pex Hill, an old childhood haunt on the very edge of our rambling range. In the years - 20, even 30 maybe - since I was last there the oak trees had grown from the stunted 8 footers I remember. Still not Forest of Dean jobs, but you had to look up. And a good mix to see......
Chiff chaff
juvenile long tailed tit - not quite got the hang of that tail yet
wren - all beak as it blasts out that incongruously loud song
song thrush
Nothing special, yet it was.
In dad's garden it was all activity again, with a young blue tit and robin seemingly unconcerned about my presence. The robin came for some food and was so close even my macro lens seemed too much - the depth of field just caught the bill and eye.
A lime hawkmoth was nearby on the pavement - sorry it's a rubbish photo!
At Marshside it was sadly overcast, but the waders were near enough to make it worthwhile, although I never realised how long avocets were - try getting them sharp all the way along!
Black tailed godwit
I had to include this shellduckling, complete with nasal drip!

At both Marshside and back home at Uskmouth the orchids were a treat - northern marsh orchids (you've guessed it - up north) ......

southern marsh orchids (bracketing a common spotted)
and pyramidal.
There were sedge warblers in song at both sites .......
and a good number of juvenile reed buntings at Uskmouth
Let's not forget the insects - do you know what this is?
It's the cocoon of a burnet moth.
This is Oedemera nobilis - the swollen legs indicate a male
and, to close, The Lackey - a moth with cracking caterpillars that start out in a communal web- like nest, before those that survive venture further afield leaving the skeletal remains of those that didn't.
So there we are. If I've not bored you rigid there are more pictures, and maybe better ones, of these and a few other species in the 'latest pictures' album - click here. Do use the slideshow - it's the best way to view.