Friday, June 30, 2006

Is it a bird?



There have been up to four Hummingbird Hawk-moths hanging around the flowerbeds at The Lodge recently. Mostly, they seem to like nectaring on Red Valerian, but today I found one buzzing about the Verbena bonariensis in a different part of the gardens.

There was good light so I had a go at taking some photos, which I'm quite pleased with. The only other shots I have of the species were taken in Spain last May.

I'll definitely be trying again to get some better images, as I just can't resist watching the Hummers darting around.

They're quite fascinating - it's easy to see why people in the UK think they've seen a real hummingbird!



This bright green, yellow and red spider was pretty interesting, too. I don't know what species it is, but I know a man who will. Watch this space.

photos taken with Nikon Coolpix 995

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Woodwalton


Large Skipper butterfly


Male Southern Hawker dragonfly


Mating longhorn beetles Strangalia maculata

Also seen, but not photographed:
  • Lots of Ringlet and Meadow Brown butterflies
  • My first Common Darters of the year
  • Cute Muntjac family: Mummy, Daddy and Baby all trotting around together
  • Exhausted racing pigeon which I grabbed and put in a tree, out of harm's way
photos taken with Nikon Coolpix 995

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Damselfly sp.



Damselfly - not sure which species... Probably a female or immature Common Blue.

photos taken with Nikon Coolpix 995

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Remind me not to go twitching...

Much against my better judgement, I went twitching after work last night (again).

Things didn't start too badly - we headed for the Red-footed Falcon (see Steve Blain's photos) at Marston Vale Country Park. On the walk along the cycle path on the way to the bird, we came across this Common Toad, which I had to stop and photograph:


Regrettably, there was no sign of the Red-foot, nor of much else. A group of bored-looking birders was loafing in the area. But we did bump into Tom McKinney and Miss Sarah Cole, which was good, and agreed to meet up in the Boat Inn at Thrupp, our next destination, where there is a Scops Owl...

Tom had already been once, on Wednesday night, and witnessed some amusing scenes. The bird had been clearly audible but could not be seen so easily. To get from one side of the tree where it was to the other, you had to go through a kissing gate, which only allows one person through at a time.

There were around 400 people trying to get around in a hurry, so twitchers started hurdling the fence next to the gate, with predictable results: 'It was like Becher's Brook in the Grand National... one bloke caught his leg on the fence and fell into a blackberry bush...'

There had also been sporadic fighting in the cramped conditions. Great!


Big lamps were employed to try to pinpoint the bird's location, but were unsuccessful (though it did keep calling). Disappointingly, there was no fighting while we were there, but we did spot Lee Evans. Ha.

We saw the bird several times, but always as a silhouette as it led the assembled crowd a merry dance


In the end, following the owl around got a bit boring and it was late, so we went home.

photos taken with Nikon Coolpix 995

Friday, June 16, 2006

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Emperor





Female Emperor, egg-laying

What a girl!

I'm more fascinated by dragonflies than ever, and the old swimming pool at The Lodge is a great place to watch them. Emperor dragonflies are very much in evidence at the moment so, of course, I want to get some photos of them...

But when they either fly around constantly (so fast you can't even follow them with binoculars) or perch on lilypads right in the middle of the pool, it's not very easy.

Today I finally managed to digiscope a female Emperor ovipositing (that's egg-laying to you and me) in the pool. The first photo was taken without the scope as the sun was behind clouds and she was near the edge, but the rest are digiscoped.

digiscoped photos taken with Nikon Coolpix 995 + Leica Apo Televid 77 with 20x eyepiece

Monday, June 12, 2006

Manx Loghtans

One of this year's offspring

A senior ewe (or so I thought - apparently this individual was lambed only last year! It's the stately horns that do it...)

Miss Curly Horns 2006

photos taken with Nikon Coolpix 995

Sunday, June 11, 2006

It's too hot!


Singing Wren

Mute Swan family

'There once was an ugly duckling...' Not really. Aren't they lovely?

Small Tortoiseshell butterfly caterpillar

We spent this morning searching for Yellow Wagtails on the Nene Washes. Probably not a very good idea. Not only did we fail to find any, but by the time we finished, temperatures were getting near the 30 degrees Celsius mark. Too hot for me, with this humidity!

The highlights, in the absence of any wagtails, were dragonflies. A few Hairies about, including a mating pair, lots of Four-spotted Chasers and an assortment of damselflies, with quite a few Blue-taileds.

With a bit of luck, we'll get some big thunderstorms to help clear the air.

digiscoped photos taken with Nikon Coolpix 995 + Leica Apo Televid 77 with 20x eyepiece

Friday, June 09, 2006

Flower-power










To use a cliche, the gardens at The Lodge are a riot of colour at the moment. Because they're all organic (and peat-free), there are loads of insects everywhere you look, which in turn is great for birds, of course.






Silhouette of Azure Damselfly

Garden Chafer, Phyllopertha horticola

Ants and aphids

These shots were all taken before 9am. I was hoping for some slightly less frisky dragon- and damselflies, but most weren't out at that time. I know that lunchtime is too late, so the optimum time must be around 10am...

photos taken with Nikon Coolpix 995