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ShareMondays2019 – Sweet Skipper

Small Skipper at Heather Farm

ShareMondays2019 – Sweet Skipper

Heather Farm, a wetlands centre and SANG (Suitable Alternative Green Space) on Horsell Common, was absolutely brimming with butterflies after my return from Kos last week! What an absolute joy to behold. This small skipper was one of the few resting in the shade on a warm and sunny day. The lighting really lent itself to a more muted and soft image of this delightful little butterfly. I felt that it was quite perfect to show off the features of the skipper that I am so drawn to! Those huge eyes and furry face are quite simply adorable. It was very hard to leave our beloved Kos, but I did feel welcomed back by these beautiful butterflies!

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ShareMondays2019 – Spider For Supper

Spider For Supper

ShareMondays2019 – Spider For Supper

I really had such fun watching the busy whitethroat adults bringing in food to their young at Heather Farm last week! So much on the menu; moth, caterpillar, damselfly and this rather magnificent spider. Good thing there are lots of these arachnids around the grassland! A few of the whitethroat families seem to have fledged already but these parents were still busy feeding today, when I visited briefly for 30DaysWild. I will miss the fledging as we will be going to our beloved Kos in Greece this week! I probably won’t get a chance to blog, but I will be posting a few photos on my Twitter feed @MiradorDesign. So, I’m posting late at night, or early in the hours of Monday morning, to enter this one into the weekly challenges and give myself more packing time tomorrow! Hope you all have a great few first weeks of Summer and I will catch up when I return.

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Wordless Wednesday: The Wonderful World Of Warblers

Whitethroat

Wordless Wednesday: The Wonderful World Of Warblers

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ShareMondays2019 – Watching The Whitethroat

Whitethroat at Heather Farm

ShareMondays2019 – Watching The Whitethroat

I’ve been watching the whitethroat at Heather Farm again this week. There are definitely two pairs nesting within a short distance from the carpark and cafe. You can watch them flying across the reeds and singing in the silver birch while sitting outside the cafe enjoying a drink (and maybe a cake!).

Whitethroat at Heather Farm

Whitethroat from the birdhide

For a closer look, head to the birdhide and look behind you, into the shrubs and up into the birch. There’s another pair in the thicket and reeds by the boardwalk, over the pond, as you enter the wetlands from the carpark.

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Whitethroat in shrubs seen from the boardwalk

They’re not the only birds busily building nests or feeding young in these thicket havens. Wrens, robins, dunnock, goldfinch and reed bunting are all sharing these patches, regularly popping up to the top of reeds or shrubs, to join their voices together in a wonderful chorus!

Whitethroat in the reeds at Heather Farm

Whitethroat in the reeds near the birdhide

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Out Of Africa

Whitethroat

Eye to Eye with Sylvia

Out Of Africa

No, I’m not in Africa, but this little whitethroat (Sylvia communis) was until just recently! They over-winter in sub-Saharan Africa before returning to breeding grounds, across Europe, in mid April. Whitethroats are warblers and have such a beautiful song. They’re similar in appearance to reed and garden warblers but have a longer tail and much more defined white throat. They are quite short-lived birds, usually about 2 years, so I suspect that the ones returning to this exact same nest-site, at Heather Farm wetlands centre, are the juveniles I saw fledging last summer.

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Female Whitethroat

I spotted the first male on Easter Sunday when out with my hubby. I wish he could feel as excited as me about such sightings, but he was very happy that it was sunny and warm, with a spot of grass to lay out on and the cafe for an ice-cream! Yesterday wasn’t quite so warm and bright but I am pretty certain that this whitethroat is a returning female. It’s slightly less defined in colour and markings and was busily collecting soft nesting material that it took back into the shrub that it’s perched on.

Male Whitethoat

Male Whitethroat warbling

Male Whitethroat

Perched in the birdhide, looking out through the way in, I can watch these wonderful little birds flitting in and out of their nest site, stopping to sing or feed, for hours. I’m certain they’re aware of me, in fact they often look me straight in the eye, with head cocked questioningly, but if I keep perfectly still they’ll just carry on about their business. I love these little moments of connection, it’s almost as if you’re having a silent conversation through mere eye contact! I can’t wait to see how this pair develop and really hope that I will get to see fledglings again later in the Summer.

If, like me, you love birdsong, why not head over to the RSPB website and buy or stream the single Let Nature Sing! You can help us get birdsong to the top of the charts by listening to something truly beautiful by May 2nd. I would encourage you all to visit their page on warblers and listen to the amazing songs of these natural-born singers!

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ShareMondays2019 – Let’s Go Fly A Kite

Red Kite movement

ShareMondays2019 – Let’s Go Fly A Kite

Red Kites regularly fly over the wetlands at Heather Farm on Horsell Common. Such a glorious sight! I wanted to use the photos I took yesterday to try to convey a sense of the movement as this kite swept in a lazy arc across the wetlands. Rising and falling on unseen thermals the kites can suddenly shrink from your vision as they’re carried ever higher. Of course their vision extends far beyond our own! As the kite soars out of sight it’s probably already got its’ eyes on something a mile or more away. Have a great week everyone!

Red Kite