Woodpecker III

woody

Yes, he’s back and looking more serious than ever. Not that he ever went away, yesterday I was just too busy to photograph him. For a brief period today he moved to another similar building, also white and positioned himself in exactly the same spot on the corner. In between drilling he invariably looks up, cocks his head as if listening for a response and surveys what’s above much like climbers do when assessing a route. However I suspect he is hoping to spot a prospective partner flying above, which so far, it would seem, he has not had much luck with.

As I am writing this a beautiful magpie just landed on the balcony railings and pinched something from a plant pot. It knew exactly what it was after, which makes me wonder, do they spot these things from a distance or can the smell a piece of rotting fruit.

crested-tit

Finally I get a halfway decent shot in focus of one of the crested tits that visits my balcony. Despite me and my camera being in clear view and noisy clicks as I pressed the shutter, it continued happily retrieving seeds from an empty ice cream carton and used the bars on the trellis to hack them open with its beak.

Some small brown butterflies were also dancing around today, a sure sign that Spring had arrived..

Autumn

It’s a mild autumn day and perfect for a stroll among the falling leaves. The squirrels are out in force today and the first one I encounter is just a few feet from my doorway. After that I see several more collecting nuts ready for their winter hibernation.

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It is still so mild that even butterflies are out and I also see another hummingbird hawk moth but fail to photograph it. However while sorting through my images I came across two nice photos I had overlooked in my eagerness to post the previous humming hawk moth photos.

Meanwhile I reflect on today’s welcome news that eleven supreme court judges have unanimously ruled against Boris Johnson. I think it is the first time I have felt any relief since the start of the whole Brexit saga. It is a great day for the rule of law, if not democracy.

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Just minding his own business … zen-like.

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‘Nuts whole hazel nuts’ … a mouthful of nuts ready for winter

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The hummingbird hawk moth close up from my last encounter.

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Note the particularly long proboscis.

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A red admiral butterfly seen for the first time this year.

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A jay finds a convenient wooden handrail to perch on.

sheep

… and sheep are doing their best to keep the grass trimmed on the hillsides.

Sunday walk

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I set out before lunch on the same walk as the previous. It is fresher today with 50% cloud cover, but still warm. My first encounter is the same butterfly/moth as before but this time I am able to get closer to photograph it. The red butterflies I keep seeing must have been one of these as in flight the red underside of the wings is visible but once it has landed on flora the red disappears and is replaced with its dramatic black and yellow markings.

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Something about it makes me think it is a moth, though I am not sure what exactly, maybe its shape. This delta wing shape is not typical for butterflies and from behind it looks like a Vulcan bomber even down to the red from the jet engines. It does make you wonder if the Vulcan designer was inspired by such a butterfly.

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Doing my Internet research it would seem that it is some sort of Tiger moth.

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There were also a number of other butterflies to be seen today.

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… and the usual insects of course.

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The crickets are out and about today too, but hard to spot being very small and nervous. In the past I have photographed many grasshoppers but the last two years I have seen none but I am sure they are around somewhere.

mystery

Finally, yesterday I spotted this mystery bird, which had grabbed some debris the squirrels had discarded after consuming nuts in the hazelnut tree. At first I thought it was a bird of prey, then a jay, but after seeing the blurred images I decided it must be a sparrowhawk. However on closer inspection it is clearly non of these as it has a long sharp beak and vertical stripes. Any ideas?

Nature today

Well, yesterday really.

It is quite humid today but pleasantly warm with a bit of wind so I take my camera out for a stroll through the forest. I am actually homing in on the buzzards, which are hanging out in nearby trees and hope to get a decent photo. As it turns out, I neither see them nor hear them.

A poor shot I captured early this morning (see below) does not look like a typical buzzard as there seems to be too much white and the wing feathers look more like an eagle’s than a buzzard, so I am wondering what else it might be. I have seen red kites here but they are easy to spot with their forked tails and distinctive wings. It’s clearly not a kite. Any ideas?

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I descend halfway down the mountain on a pathway overgrown with ferns. The birds are silent, it’s just after lunch and probably not the best time to venture out in search of wildlife. However once I reach the dirt track a butterfly catches my attention. Is it a butterfly or a moth, I am not sure but it is certainly not one I have seen before.

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Moth or butterfly?

It has dramatic black and white markings on top with red underneath. I decide to focus on butterflies but miss several interesting red ones, which could have been tortoiseshells or the one above. There were some small white butterflies and the ever present brimstones.

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These very small blue butterflies are out and about today, but being so small they present quite a challenge to photograph. Still, I am given ample opportunities and manage a few photos.

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They have iridescent blue wings on the top side and underneath a more traditional butterfly pattern.

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On my return leg I disturb an animal. I can tell by the noise as it flees that it is something interesting and not just a squirrel or mouse, it’s too loud for that and not loud enough to be a deer or wild boar. I peer into the undergrowth not expecting to see much but then I see it. A fleeting glimpse of a small short haired animal about the size of a small dog, rust coloured with short ears and legs, scampering away. I wonder what it could be as I have never seen such an animal before.

redstart

I was going to ignore this cute young black restart but it seemed determined to remain on the log so I took some shots anyway and it posed nicely, changing its head position, just like a photo model. Black redstarts are more common here than sparrows and no wonder they usually have five chicks and two broods a year is not unusual.

fieldfare

Finally, this was probably a young fieldfare taken a few weeks ago in the valley. There seem to be many young birds around at present, rather late in the year I feel. Even the ducks last week had chicks that looked just a few days old. Is this the result of climate change or just my imagination.

Flutterby

butterfly

Meanwhile far from the madding crowd, I head into the forest for some peace and quiet. It is the first time for several weeks as the weather has been pretty awful and I have been suffering a knee problem. I eventually self diagnosed the knee problem as plica syndrome and after rest and some special exercises it seems to be on the mend. I had only been out five  minutes and managed to photograph my first butterfly of the year. This is the common tortoiseshell butterfly but no less spectacular for that and in this shot it looks like a multi-coloured futuristic dive bombing jet.