Image

ShareMondays2020 – The Skipper And The Copper

The Skipper and the Copper

ShareMondays2020 – The Skipper And The Copper

What a joyous few days spent amongst the butterflies last week! It started with a first for the camera with this stunning white admiral in the woodlands of Bookham Commons. The commons have the ideal habitat with dappled shade, bramble blossom that adults sip nectar from, and honeysuckle where they will lay their eggs.

White Admiral in woodland

The chalk slopes of the Surrey Hills AONB have the ideal grass and scrub for meadow butterflies like the small, large and Essex skippers that I saw. I stayed away from the hundreds of people heading for the top of Box Hill and took Simon over to Denbies Hillside, near Ranmore Common. Such fabulous views across to Leith Hill, down to Dorking and views up The Pilgrims Ways toward Guildford.

Essex Skipper

The marbled whites emerge, en masse, and are drawn to purple flowers to feed from. They are stunning and ethereal, the spirits, or sylphs of the hillside.

SylphMarbled WhiteMarbled White

There were only a few people out at these National Trust managed sites and I was so relieved to be able to get outside again safely! I can’t resist leading with my image of the chance meeting of the Essex Skipper and Small Copper on the grass seeds. They stopped briefly, at a safe social distance, greeted one another and then took flight again.

 

Image

#FeelGoodPhotoOfTheDay – Gone To Seed

Gone To Seed

#FeelGoodPhotoOfTheDay – Gone To Seed

Gone To Seed

All has gone to seed
Precious repositories
For the years ahead

This is going to be my last in the series of images from my archives with newly composed haiku. I wanted this image to be the last one as it’s all about hope for the future. I can actually leave the house again, so I really want to make the most of new encounters with wildlife and engaging with plants and nature. I hope that you have all enjoyed a moment of mindfulness through these creations. Can’t quite believe I managed about a hundred in total! I hope the future will start to look brighter and safer for us all. Keep enjoying the simple pleasures in life, in the natural world around you, stay safe and do whatever you can to help keep others safe too.

Image

ShareMondays2020 – Skipping Through The Meadows

Small Skipper

ShareMondays2020 – Skipping Through The Meadows

I ventured out of the house for the first time since March 22nd last Friday! I’m still shielding, but we have been advised that we can go outside once a day, for health benefits, as long as we follow strict social distancing. It was so nerve-wracking, but the wildlife at the Heather Farm Wetlands area welcomed me back with what felt like a huge hug to the senses. The sights, sounds, scents, space and the feel of the breeze was just the therapeutic boost I needed. It’s peaceful in the wetlands, with only a few visitors, who were all keeping a good distance. I felt safe and that was really important!

Skipper and Flower Beetles

I didn’t have to go far before seeing skippers flitting about all around me among the grasses. It was magic! A mix of both small and Essex skippers were so abundant in this perfect habitat. One obliging small skipper allowed me to get close-up with the macro lens and I hope this shows you why I just adore them. So fluffy, with the most enormous eyes! They were adorning the thistles along with thick-legged flower beetles, spiders and froghoppers (the larvae produce cuckoo spit!). See if you can spot them!

Skipper on Thistle

Grasses are so important to skippers! Small skipper larvae usually feed on Yorkshire-fog grass, and Essex skipper larvae will usually be found on Cock’s-foot grass. Both species will also use Timothy, False Brome, Meadow Foxtail and Creeping Soft grass. Aren’t they just the most wonderful names? Both the Woodland Trust and Wildlife Trusts have great information about grasses and sedges!

Essex Skipper on grasses

It’s really difficult to differentiate between the small and Essex skippers! It’s actually a bit early to be seeing the Essex on the wing, they would usually appear in July. Many of our butterflies have been emerging early this year, after the hot month of May. I am pretty sure that a number of the skippers I saw were the Essex, as a head-on view showed me the black-tipped antennae. The small skipper has an orange-brown tip.

Image

ShareMondays2020 – Happy Birthday Bro!

Longes Family Portrait

ShareMondays2020 – Happy Birthday Bro!

Happy Birthday Robin!!! Yes, that’s my little brother on the left, with my sister-in-law, Mo, and nine month old Finley. They came over for a brief window visit this week and it really lifted my spirits. It’s been ages since we’ve seen each other in person and Finley is growing up so quickly! He’s such a character and like most little ones his age, he just wants to put everything in his mouth. It was so funny when he made a beeline for the birdbath and feeders! I had visions of a wet and confused baby until Robin just managed to get to him in time.

The birds continue to visit too! My brother isn’t the only Robin visiting the feeders! There’s a lovely pair of robins nesting in our hedgerow and the adults have been cleaning up the mess on the ground left by the starlings.

The juvenile starlings are becoming much more independent and are still very vocal. The blue and great tits don’t get much of a look-in at the feeder but it’s great when we do see them! The pigeons are also very good at clearing up whatever mess is left underneath the feeders by the starlings and tits.

For 30DaysWild I have also been watching the bees that are feasting on nectar from the hydrangea outside my window. I’ve seen three different species. Occasionally there is also a cat in the flowerbed too!

My parents continue to make random window visits too. This week they chose to visit in the rain! No need to make such a song and a dance about it though, lol 😉

Image

#FeelGoodPhotoOfTheDay – Protection

Protection

#FeelGoodPhotoOfTheDay – Protection

Protection

Through the toughest times
In the sunshine and the gloom
I will carry you

Image

ShareMondays2020 – Squabbling Siblings

Squabbling Siblings

ShareMondays2020 – Squabbling Siblings

Watching the fledgling starlings every day is such a great way to observe their behaviour and how they mature. They’re definitely at teenager stage, so much shouting and posturing! They absolutely scream at the adults and I can’t help feeling a bit sorry for these hard working parents. There’s screaming to be fed, screaming when the adult is in the way, screaming when a sibling gets to the favourite feeder first. It’s just like any human household really! I’m just watching all the stages of adolescence at a much faster pace.

Adult Starling Plumage

Beautiful adult starling

June is the month when many of us take on the 30DaysWild challenge from The Wildlife Trusts. They have recently launched a campaign for a Wilder Future, something I have always been passionate about. Latest statistics show that 1 in 7 species in the UK is at risk of extinction now. Starlings are an at-risk species. There has been about an 80% decline in the species since the 1980’s! Much of this is down to habitat loss. This is both in relation to loss of winter roosting sites and a loss of suitable nest sites. Our starlings nest in cavities under our roof tiles. I really am truly privileged to have them here and I would hate for future generations to miss out on the pleasure of watching these garrulous characters! Please do read the statement and join the campaign if you can!

Here’s a bit of the action from the starlings and other birds at our feeder this week. Enjoy!

Image

#FeelGoodPhotoOfTheDay – Common Blue

Common Blue

#FeelGoodPhotoOfTheDay – Common Blue

Common Blue

Uncommon beauty
Common sight on common land
Exceptional blue

Image

ShareMondays2020 – I Predict A Riot!

I Predict A Riot

ShareMondays2020 – I Predict A Riot!

So much fun watching the fledglings this week! We have large numbers of juvenile starlings now and they really are riotous. Their antics at the feeder have been a source of joy and amusement, not just for me and Simon, but also for many of my neighbours. When they all flock in together, there is hardly enough room on the feeding station for the fledglings, let alone their parents!

The stare!

Staring Starling!

Fledgling Blue Tit

Fledging Blue Tit


Do a little dance!

Shake Those Tail Feathers!

Singing for supper

Singing for Supper

When the starlings aren’t monopolising the feeding station, the beautiful fledgling blue tits are now visiting. They are so dinky but very vocal! The ragged looking adults are being constantly harassed by the cute little fluffies. Actually seeing a feed is a real joy! Sometimes the blue tit adults bring food from the trees down to fledglings perched on the feeder. They’re all still going through my suet and seed at the rate of knots, but it’s wonderful to feel like we are contributing to the welfare of these new lives!

Feeding a fledgling Blue Tit

Dinner Time!

Image

#FeelGoodPhotoOfTheDay – Air Brakes

Air Brakes

#FeelGoodPhotoOfTheDay – Air Brakes

Air Brakes

Putting on the brakes
It’s time to slow down and rest
Before we shall soar