For ShareMondays and WexMondays this week I just couldn’t resist the delightful little grebes, on the Glasshouse Lake, at RHS Wisley Gardens! Both parents take turns on the nest incubating the eggs and warming the chicks, or out on the waters collecting food and extra nesting material to keep their precious brood safe and secure. There were three tiny chicks and several eggs still to hatch when I visited on Saturday. The adults are very busy and will be for some time to come! The chicks crawl up under the wings of the adults to nestle in against their backs for warmth. In this family portrait the male grebe is feeding a nymph (possibly dragonfly) to the striped chick. It was really heart-warming to watch the care these two parents afford their new babies, a truly tender moment.
I finally built up the courage to visit Tice’s Meadow Nature Reserve on Saturday. Surrey BTO membership secretary, Penny, had told me that there was disabled access so I nervously set off to meet up with the team managing the reserve at their woodland birdhide. After a bit of time figuring out the RADAR key padlocks to allow access for my wheelchair I was quickly surrounded by wildlife. Speckled wood, meadow brown and green-veined white butterflies danced all around me! I was so captivated that I nearly missed this little fledgling pop up into the cut branches it had been foraging around. I thought my eyes where deceiving me, the speckled head of a young robin and the tail feathers of a…of a….no….can’t be…..(takes photos then checks BTO online and does a little wheelchair dance)….that’s the tail feathers of a redstart! Whoop! Just so thrilled that this wonderful little bird stuck around long enough for me to get a few shots. The female adult was already calling to it from nearby shrubs. She’s quite drab, a glance had made me think female or juvenile blackbird, but smaller. They didn’t visit the woodland birdhide but we were delighted to see lots of juveniles there too, including greenfinch, sparrow, chaffinch, nuthatch, robin, goldfinch and bullfinch! It was lovely to meet the team managing the reserve. Warm, welcoming and passionate about sharing the joy of nature and wildlife with everyone. They already have local schools visiting and events for young people with learning disabilities. Several RADAR key access points have been installed and plans are afoot to have the main pathways made properly wheelchair accessible. At the moment the ground is hard and that allows the wheelchair to get around without too much difficulty but there are deep ruts to be avoided. I really hope that the team manage to get all the funding needed to develop the pathways and progress with other projects they have planned, including providing more learning activities for the children who regularly visit. I had a very successful Big Butterfly Count around the meadow areas by Horton’s Mount! So many blues on the wing. I think I might have finally fallen down that rabbit hole into Wonderland!
This is my entry for the Fotospeed challenge this week. I was really thrilled to count eleven holly blue butterflies along a short stretch of the Thames, near Sunbury Lock, for this year’s Big Butterfly Count. It’s a perfect habitat for them with plenty of their larval food plants; holly, ivy and hawthorn. This is the second generation of hollies in flight this year, females will be looking to lay their eggs next to the emerging flower buds on ivy. I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see a third generation in flight this year!
For ShareMondays and Wex Mondays this week is this perfect little brown argus butterfly in the grasses at RHS Wisley Gardens last week. This was the first time I have seen this species at Wisley, the first time I have been able to positively identify the sight of one in the UK and the first time I have photographed one! I was very excited. Then I realised that there were two! I almost did a little dance but my legs had seized up from trying to crouch. A great species to be able to add to my Big Butterfly Count this past week.
Another image captured at Thorpe Lake where I go open water swimming every Tuesday. The grebes are beautiful and fun to watch too. I often see them stamping the water like this, churning it up, before they wash and preen. The sight and this image really made me smile so it’s the perfect one to post for ShareMondays!
In these burning lands The only safe flame is the One carried on wings
At Heather Farm wetlands centre on Horsell Common the grasses are reduced to dry, brown scrub. The waters are at the lowest I’ve ever seen. Flowers bloom and fade fast in this heat. There have been so many heath and grassland fires already this summer and I am very concerned about these precious habitats! It’s the Big Butterfly Count this week and while I am still seeing quite a good number of grassland specialists, like this small copper, I am worried about the laval plants that are so important for the next generation of butterflies. While the heat continues, please be very careful with naked flames, BBQ’s and cigarettes around parks, heaths, grassland and woodland. This is for the Fotospeed challenge and is dedicated to the fire-fighters helping to tackle these blazes across the UK.