Monday, 20 September 2021

Garden butterflies

Spending more time working from home does have it's perks. One such perk is that I can keep an eye on the comings and goings of butterflies in the garden during the summer.

Several years ago now I watched in utter amazement as a female Purple Emperor cruised over the garden. Such an amazing encounter, I thought could never be matched. Fast forward to Wednesday 21st July - a hot day and so I thought I'd work my way through my work e-mails first thing out on a bench out in the garden. I happen to glance up at the globe thistles on the far side of the garden and there sat on top of one was something orangey. To my astonishment it was a really fresh Dark Green Fritillary!! The nearest camera to hand was my SLR with 100-400 lens, with which I rattled off a couple of photos and then ran inside for my macro. Unfortunately, on my return it had vanished into thin air and failed to reappear. But I had a photo to at least look back on.

To put this sighting into perspective, I have seen two DGFs in my 10 years living in the Brackley area, both some miles away near Croughton. I'm sure there is a colony, or even multiple colonies lurking around somewhere but for one to turn up in the middle of Brackley is bonkers - and for it to be in my garden, well I'm very grateful indeed! Butterfly species number 22 for the garden.

Other garden scarcities have included a couple of Common Blue and a brief Essex Skipper. Both only the 3rd and 2nd occurrences here.

All the way through the summer, there's been a wide variety of species - a nice reward for planting out the garden with loads of nectar-rich plants. The verbena, Buddleia and Globe Thistles being the most popular.

Sunday, 12 September 2021

Bucknell butterflies

Tried several times to get my annual fix of local Purple Emperors in Bucknell Wood this year - but despite visiting three times in suitable weather, the 'proper views' eluded me and so I had to be content with flight views. But not to worry, it happens!

They were late this year in comparison to reason years, (along with plenty of other butterfly species). They eventually appeared a good 10 days into July, as apposed to the last couple of weeks of June.

Bucknell offers plenty more than just the Emperors though and I was treated to pretty much all the other expected specialties. Prolonged, close-up views of a couple of White-Letter Hairstreaks a particular highlight.

At day at Frampton

A very decent day out at the 'wader capital' of Frampton Marsh in Lincolnshire with Gareth, back on Saturday 10/07. Wader passage was under way, but some way from it's peak - still plenty to see though and an enjoyable, welcome change from the birding back home.

Best were a single Wood Sand, constantly hammered by one of the local Avocets, lots of Knot & Barwit, 3 Spotted Redshank, several Spoonbill, 10 Green SandCuckoo, Corn Bunting and plenty of other waders around the reserve. 

Saturday, 31 July 2021

Butts and pieces

After a dreadful run of wet weather throughout much of May, conditions eventually improved and the butterfly season could commence!

I visited the small Grizzled Skipper colony near Croughton and was able to enjoy at least 2-3 at any one time. Very happy with the photos I got of them this year, best yet. Lovely, settled views of an Orange Tip too.

Elsewhere locally, the odd Brown Argus and Holly Blue, while Small Heaths seem to continue to go from strength to strength around here.

The garden moth trap came up trumps with my first ever Eyed Hawkmoth - a species I was keen to see, so chuffed with that one! Also had the pleasure of several Elephant and a couple of Small Elephant Hawkmoth, plus one of my favourites, Burnished Brass, among others.

I decided to have a crack at finding Quails and Owls on several evenings in the surrounding countryside through June. Whilst the Quail eluded me, I did nail down some reliable spots for Barn Owl & Little Owl which I was so happy with. I don't think I've seen a Little Owl, full stop for a couple of years, so to get the views I got was bloody marvelous!

I've paid Grimsbury Res in Banbury the odd visit, not seeing a great deal - as is largely typical away from spring and autumn passage. However on 22/05, I had an absolutely insane encounter with a Peregrine which flew in at tree-top height from the south. It was motoring and with it's eyes on the prize, smashed an unsuspecting Swift out of the sky and into the water. After a couple of attempts to pluck it from the surface, it manged to get hold of the now dead Swift and carry it off NE. A real WOW moment!

Other recent pics from close to home...

Garden butterflies

Spending more time working from home does have it's perks. One such perk is that I can keep an eye on the comings and goings of butterfl...