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Blooming Butterflies

Blooming Butterflies

Blooming Butterflies

There were so many small copper and common blue butterflies still on the wing last week at Heather Farm Wetlands Centre, a part of Horsell Common. They’re not hard to find either, you just have to look around the clumps of this yellow flowering plant, called common fleabane. It’s been practically blooming butterflies throughout the season! Can’t resist putting this in for this week’s WexMondays challenge. Lovely to be out chasing so many butterflies in the middle of September!

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Blue Monday: Of Dust Motes And Dreams

Of Dust Motes And Dreams

Blue Monday: Of Dust Motes And Dreams

The late holly blue butterflies are still flitting about our waterways, gathering near the budding ivy where this generation lay their eggs. There are still wildflowers blooming along the Wey Navigation canal path where I spotted this, and other males, seeking nectar. The beautiful light, streaming through the trees to shine on this tattered little beauty, inspired the poet in me again.

Of Dust Motes And Dreams

Tattered
Torn
A little worn
And weathered

Jaded
Faded hues

Summer blues
And greens
Flickering
In light streams

Flimsy
Frayed
At the rim

Paper-thin wings
Still holding on

Fragile
Yet strong
Agile in flight

Daintily alight
Upon wild
Bowing blooms
As dusk looms

Steadfast sprite
Drink deep
This sweet
Ambrosia

Stave off
The long sleep

Withering
Diminishing
Last notes
Of a hushed song

Impression retained
In glittering
Sunbeams

Flittering away
To dust motes
And dreams

This is my entry for this week’s WexMondays challenge. Good luck to all taking part!

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The Sound Guy

The Sound Guy

The Sound Guy

When you go out to listen to live music, whether in your local pub, community centre or at a big arena, there’s more than just the musicians at play! This is Bern, he’s one of the volunteer interns who have been trained to play their parts at the Fiery Bird in Woking, as a sound or lighting engineer, stage manager, production crew, front of house for example. Bern isn’t new to sound engineering, running sound for The Loft in Basingstoke, assisting at various local open mics and for his partner, singer-songwriter Celia Barrett, at her performances. My hubby, Simon, has also been training with the new sound desk at Fiery Bird. I’ll stick with my photography, or “magic camera” as Celia refers to it! I just loved Celia’s reaction to a quick edit I did of this image using my phone and Snapseed. She shared the image saying “Bern takes real pride in getting the best sound for musicians and this photo reminded me that we should never forget to thank the Sound Guy. Thanks Bern”. Actually, it was the most liked image from the entire Acoustic Sessions set that I posted to Facebook. The Acoustic Sessions are a new, regular music night, hosted by Claudia Stark, local singer-songwriter and long time member of The Phoenix Cultural Centre (who run Fiery Bird). This and a monochrome from the sequence I shot of Bern were my favourites from the night too. Just something magic about the rim light from the simple desk lamp! I shall post the muted-colour image for this week’s WexMondays as a thank you to all the hard-working sound guys out there at music venues across the country.

The Sound Guy

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ShareMondays2018 – Shelter

Shelter

ShareMondays2018 – Shelter

I took my parents along to see the wonderful little grebe family on the Glasshouse Lake at RHS Wisley Gardens last week. They put on the most tender display of parenthood for us! Such a treat and a joy to share it with my mum and dad.

Shelter

For every dad
Who’s carried
Us upon their backs,
Provided shelter
Away from harm,
Fed us,
Clothed us,
Kept us warm.
We leave the nest
Yet still rest
Upon your strong arm.
Wrapped in your love
For all our lives,
Laugh with us,
Cry with us,
We know you would
Die for us.
But do you know
That this time dad,
It’s us,
Your kids,
Who’ve got your back.

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ShareMondays2018 – Little Grebe Family

Little Grebe Family

ShareMondays2018 – Little Grebe Family

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.

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Watching Whitethroats

Hard to spot a whitethroat in the heat-browned leaves

Watching Whitethroats

Finding a family of whitethroats (one of our many summer visitors from the warbler family) living next to the bird hide at Heather Farm has been a real treat! They’re actually behind the hide which makes it harder to hide from them. They, however, are very adept at staying hidden even when I can clearly hear them. Often the first clue is the tutting noise from one of the adults as they call the fledgelings out. Eventually one will make an appearance as I keep as still and silent as possible!

Whitethroat adult calling out the fledgelings

The next clue is the rustling and shaking in the brambles. The juveniles are in there somewhere! They eat a mix of insects and berries so are really enjoying feasting on the early blackberries. I watch the trail of movement through the brambles until one of the youngsters finally pops into view!

Fledgeling whitethroat eyeing up the berries

They don’t see me as a threat as I stay in the shadows of the hide, still and silent. Soon three fledgelings are bustling about on the brambles, before moving up into the branches of the three silver birches in this little grove. They really seem to enjoy the seeds of the birch trees! Two of these trees have been greatly affected by this summer’s heatwave. The seeds have matured early and the leaves have browned as the tree sheds them to conserve it’s dwindling water supply. The birds are easy to spot in the green leaves but utterly camouflaged against the browns, as you can see in my lead image!

Fledgeling whitethroat in the silver birch

Eventually the adults led their brood into the reeds near the boardwalks at the entrance to the wetlands centre. The reeds swayed and shook for a while to show their progress but they were soon well hidden from my sight or that of potential predators. I loved watching the little family and hope to see more of them before the end of the season. The previous morning I had attended a bird-ringing event at the centre, led by Surrey BTO, Horsell Common Preservation Society and The Thames Basin Heath Partnership. We had ringed lots of blackcaps, tits, reed warblers and wrens but the whitethroats had evaded us! It’s wonderful to see the success of this recently created nature reserve growing year on year. Today I’m sharing my camouflaged whitethroat as part of WexMondays.

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ShareMondays2018 – A Photographic First

Brown Argus at RHS Wisley Gardens

ShareMondays2018 – A Photographic First

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.

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Dive! Dive! Dive!

Dive Dive Dive - Common Tern composite

Dive! Dive! Dive!

This composite of a common tern, performing an aborted dive at Thorpe Lake OWS, is for Wex Mondays and dedicated to my Dad. When Mum and I are out swimming with the birds and fish, Dad stays on the lakeside, keeping a watchful eye on us and our feathered friends. Can’t wait to dive back into the waters of the lake tomorrow in this crazy, hot weather!

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Blackberry Picking Blackcap

Blackberry Picking Blackcap

Blackberry Picking Blackcap

Last week brought so many fantastic photography opportunities, but the ones that I most want to share in this weeks Monday photo-challenges are among the last few images that I captured yesterday in the late afternoon. I was with my parents at The Weir in Walton, on the banks of the Thames, near Sunbury Lock. There was an abundance of wildlife in the brambles and trees along the river path. I almost missed this juvenile blackcap picking blackberries. It’s often the song that first alerts me to the presence of a bird but this little one was being very quiet. It’s efforts to pick the blackberries where rather clumsy though and the sight of a shaking bramble bush gave the game away! I took a closer look and a shaft of sunlight caught upon this cheeky little face. I was pretty sure the youngster was a blackcap having seen an adult male in the vicinity earlier on. It’s perfect habitat for them as they feed on both berries and insects! I’m sharing this first image for Wex Mondays. More to follow!

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Bald As A Coot?

Coot Chick

Bald As A Coot?

While a young coot chick might look pretty bald, this is not actually the origins of the phrase. It’s in reference to the white frontal shield of the adult coot (see image below). This similarly applies to the name of the Bald Eagle, which has a fine head of white feathers. Bald also appears in the word Piebald, referring to horses, birds and other animals that are black and white. So where does this word for white actually come from? Annabel Rushton sheds some light on this in the RSPB community blog:

You often hear the phrase ‘bald as a coot’, but as you can see from the photo, they are covered in feathers. Even the chick, though a little sparse on its head, has a flame of red and orange down. So where has the saying come from? Well the word ‘bald’ is actually derived from an old English word ‘bala’ which means ‘white patch’. If you look at a coot, they have a white patch above their beak known as a ‘knob’ or a ‘frontal shield’. It is this that has given rise to the term ‘bald as a coot’, rather than because they are featherless.
Coot and chick

Coot and chick at Claremont Landscape Gardens

The Idioms website adds:

A coot is a water bird which has marking on its head that gives it an appearance of being bald. It does have feathers on his head but it is the way it looks from a distance that gives this expression its shape.

This phrase has been in existence since several centuries with the first literary use being in 1430 in ‘Chronicle of Troy’ written by John Lydgate.

Source: theidioms.com

I couldn’t find a specific name for a coot chick, such as duckling or gosling so I propose to start calling these cute yet odd looking chicks cootlings or cutelings. What do you think?