Monday, 23 November 2020

Shades of Autumn

These silver birch leaves make me think of Klimt and his beech trees.

As you can see, we have been out in our locality, breathing fresh autumn air.

 

Sunset, and home beckons. Yet over the fence the world, as so often, looks more enticing! 

The oak leaves in the photo below were almost too high for my camera, but look at the skeletal patterns, left presumably by leaf miners.

I'm not really an autumn person, but the colours and the play of light and shade are hard to resist.
Once again I apologise for the rather erratic layout: the new Blogger really is continue to fox me at times!

Thursday, 12 November 2020

Garden Butterfly Survey results for October 2020

 


This is the first year I have taken part in the Butterfly Conservation Garden Butterfly Survey. I have the rest of November and December still to go, but am not expecting to see (m)any more of these wonderful insects before next spring. Looking at the chart above, I wouldn't be surprised if the year here didn't end for me in the way it began; but, who knows, I might yet be caught off guard and delighted by the flutter of small wings. 

David, meanwhile, has been recording butterflies seen on his (near) daily walks in our locality. A brief report of his first-part-of-the-year findings has just been published in The Suffolk Argus, the magazine of our local Butterfly Conservation branch. The figures prove to us just how many butterflies, and how many species, are inhabiting our suburban environment here in Suffolk. Butterfly numbers may be in a worrying decline, but we have certainly been finding that a closer inspection pays dividends when it comes to honing our observation skills.

 




Saturday, 31 October 2020

Sparrowhawk

 

I think the Sparrowhawk is probably a bit like a certain savoury spread in the sense that it is either a bird you like to have around or one whose presence makes you shudder. I certainly veer towards the latter camp, while realising that all birds need to feed if they are to survive and reproduce. 

We have Sparrowhawks in the garden from time to time, and this majestic creature appeared a week ago. My photo (through double-glazing) leaves a lot to be desired, but that piercing yellow eye seems to say it all. There are, of course, no vulnerable fledglings out and about at present; but a Sparrowhawk has to feed all year round, and I shudder for the small birds who visit our coconuts. 


Wednesday, 28 October 2020

Common Crossbill on an Autumn Afternoon

We were not far from the car when a birder hailed us, telling us to look up as there was a small flock of Crossbills in a tall pine tree. The Common Crossbill is a bird I have long wanted to see so I cricked my neck and waited for a flicker of movement in the high branches.

It was not long before I spotted a male...  

 

 ...with his burnt-orange feathers.


I particularly wanted to capture the distinctive cross-over bill on my photo, and despite the distance and poor light, you can just about make it out in the photo above. 

The kind birder mentioned that there had been a flock, and while we only saw three in total ourselves, it was not long before I noticed the female with her green plumage. You can see her at the end of the lower arrow in the photo above. I always enjoy seeing a new species, and keep hoping the day will come when I happen to be in the same place as a Hoopoe, but a surprise encounter, like this one with the Crossbills, is always a particular joy. Our friend told us there were also Redpolls about but we failed to see them.

The area in question has mixed swathes of woodland, and in the deciduous areas, there were plenty of chestnuts on the ground ...

... and a good selection of fungi.

Most fronds of bracken have taken on that beautiful bronze hue of autumn.

We noticed one small moth larva on the sandy soil. Autumn is not my favourite season, but I do particularly like the display of red (see below), yellow, brown and orange.


P.S. Apologies if the spacing looks odd on your screen. Since Blogger updated its platform, I have found it hard to use the html option and hard to position pictures evenly within text.

Thursday, 1 October 2020

Garden Butterfly Survey results for September 2020

 

20 September 2020, Peacock butterfly in our Suffolk garden

 

 
Regular readers of this blog will know that I have been taking part in the Garden Butterfly Survey this year, organised by Butterfly Conservation. Each month I post my sightings. For the purposes of this survey, these represent the highest number of a particular species seen at a time, rather than the total count of that species. 
 
Eight different species were seen, including the Brown Argus, a new butterfly species for the garden this year. Sadly though I failed to see a Small Tortoiseshell here all summer, and I read on the results of the Butterfly Conservation Big Butterfly Count 2020 that records for this beautiful species were down generally by a massive 41%. The weather is currently much cooler, and I wonder how many more 2020 garden sightings I will have...

Sunday, 20 September 2020

Landguard: Blue Butterflies on a Blustery Afternoon

I see we are fast moving towards the autumn equinox, and perhaps this had something to do with the force of the waves on Saturday afternoon. I know other places have experienced dreadful storms and floods. The beach at Landguard shelves steeply as you may be able to tell from the photo.


 

As ever, I enjoyed seeing what was on the sand around my feet. I need to get my pebble book out and gen up on my stones. I spent my teenage years in East Anglia and used to know my carnelian from my quartz!


 

As you can see, this far end of the beach was once again pretty unpopulated. There were three windsurfers quite a way out, braving the breakers.


 

We spotted a bird on the groyne, this time clearly a Turnstone.


 

You can see the wing markings in the photo below. I nearly missed its take-off!


 

Up on the reserve we managed to find several Common Blue butterflies in the sheltered spots. 


 

Most had hunkered down to avoid the wind.


There were also a couple of tiny Brown Argus.


 

I think this butterfly had seen better days. 


Another Common Blue...


 

... and another, this time on the Tamarisk.


I wonder how many more we will see this season. For any who may not know it, here's a link to Robert Frost's beautiful 'Blue-Butterfly Day' poem, though as you will see, it doesn't exactly fit with our UK season right now!



 

Thursday, 17 September 2020

Wasp Spider with Egg Sac

It was exciting to find two Wasp spider egg sacs in the garden this afternoon. We have been watching three of these arachnids for days, but were not expecting this surprise. What a magnificent sac!


The second sac (above) was less conspicuous, and definitely more of a challenge for the camera.

I have learned a new word, stabilimentum, for the zigzag web you see in the photo below.

I noticed a tiny spherical object, which without magnification or glasses, looked like a seed head. However, I increased the size of the photo, and as you can see below it is a tiny spider. I wondered if could be the male Wasp spider, but since the female often eats her mate after mating, it may not be!

You can see the tiny spider a bit more easily in the next photo...


Wasp spiders are fascinating. The Argiope in their name, Argiope bruennichi, means 'silver-faced'; but I think their common name is a more obvious nomenclature!
 

 

Wednesday, 16 September 2020

Landguard Nature Reserve again... and a new Moth

We returned to the Landguard Nature Reserve yesterday afternoon and were delighted to see a new moth, which we think is probably a Treble-bar. I am waiting for the folk on iSpot to come to my aid over the ID.


We noticed this bird hopping about on its orange legs on one of the groynes. It seems to be a Turnstone (well, two of us think this is what it is), but perhaps its plumage is in an in-between stage. 

It was wonderful to be back on the water's edge...


...though there was a bit of sea fret over Felixstowe beyond the person in the distance.


Wonderful pebbles!


Turning inland a little, I noticed this plant, which I think may be Black Nightshade.

Landguard holds a very strategic position, and there are a number of grim reminders of past conflict, like this WW2 bunker pill box.


Speaking of happier things, we were delighted to see Common Blue butterflies in reasonable numbers. They were mainly low down in the grass, which made photography a challenge!

This one is on a stem of what I assume is Rest harrow. 


We also saw a couple of Brown Argus butterflies. The spot on the wing is quite marked and the abdomen quite long so I think this is the right ID.

Outside the fenced-in areas on the reserve there were lots of signs of rabbit activity... and we finally got to see two of the burrow-makers!