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!


Monday 14 September 2020

Painted Lady at last

Well, how strange... no sooner had I resigned myself to a year without a Painted Lady sighting than what do I see? We decided to return to the point and nature reserve at Landguard in Felixstowe, and there was the butterfly, fluttering about at the top of the long beach, nectaring from flower to flower. I guess it will soon take off on its journey south. This really was such a beautiful insect, with its wings looking like a stained glass window in the sunshine.

You can see how the subtle shades of the outer wing provide camouflage on the shingle. 

The butterfly landed on one occasion in what was clearly a patch of short scrubby turf where rabbits had been grazing. 

There were various groups of people heading in our direction so we turned and walked down to the water's edge where we greatly enjoyed watching this Sanderling hopping this way and that.

I'm guessing it's plumage is in an in-between stage. Aren't those feather markings beautiful?

The photos were taken with my zoom extended to some degree, but the bird seemed totally unperturbed by our presence.


We noticed a Common Blue butterfly in a fenced-off area. The notice below was hanging on the fence. The explains that up to 25 species, presumably of plant, can exist in a single square metre of lowland dry acid grassland like the swathe (or sward?) inside the wire. I should have started counting...

The bird observatory sign informed us that a Spoonbill had been spotted earlier in the day.


Saturday 12 September 2020

Landguard Nature Reserve

We took advantage of the warm weather today and enjoyed an afternoon by the sea in Felixstowe at the Landguard Nature Reserve. 

There was a short stretch of boardwalk leading towards the water, and, as you can see, it wasn't exactly overrun with people. The next two pictures show us enjoying a virtually empty beach...


Readers of this blog will know that I often look out for an oyster shell when I am on the beach in this area to remind me of the Romans who would have walked along these shores from nearby Walton Castle, which has now disappeared.

More empty sands... looking into the sun

... and away from the sun towards the town.

A cargo ship was being filled with containers just behind us.

I had been told that there were some small flowers to look out for on the reserve...

I need to research the names of some of the flowers. The one above is a kind of Trefoil, I think.

The bird observatory, which has been here since 1982, sits at the top of the shingle beach. This is a very good place for encountering migrant birds.

On this occasion the birds we saw...

...were not particularly unusual. I see the wagtail has been ringed.

There were several clumps of Scarlet Pimpernel in an area of sand dune inhabited by a colony of rabbits.

I was quite surprised to find the Horned Poppies still in flower.

Thanks to the comment below from Conehead54 I now know that the little flowers in the next photo are Common Storksbill.

I think this yellow flower is Lady's Bedstraw.

At one point these Cormorants did a fly-past.

We also encountered a small murmuration of Starlings...

You can see them on the horizon in a dark arc.

Again thanks are due to Conehead54 for telling me that this is Common Centaury. I must learn these plants that grow on or near our shingle beaches.

There were plenty of ripe blackberries.

David kept a tally of the butterflies we encountered. These were largely Small Whites and we were encouraged at the numbers. 


All in all we were very pleased to renew our acquaintance with this coastal corner of Suffolk, and hope to explore its wildlife further, another lockdown permitting.

P.S. I have finally given in and converted to the new Blogger interface. Unlike the old one, I am not finding it very intuitive so please bear with me as I learn how to sort out the spacing etc!