Archive for Aug, 2020

29
Aug
20

Rosel’s

Named after a German entomologist the Rosel’s Bush-Cricket  was first recorded in Norfolk in 1997.  On a tour the week before last we came across an area of plastic sheeting, warmed by the sun, that turned out to be a hotbed both for Rosel’s and their nemesis … viviparous lizards!

24
Aug
20

The Bluest of Blues

Think of the Bluest sky you’ve ever seen. Think of the bluest sea you’ve swam in. That’s the intensity of the colour of the Adonis Blue Butterfly. Vibrant.

We took a trip across the county border to see these flying jewels recently. Even in the strong winds we found sheltered spots where they were nectaring. Plenty of Brown Argos and Small Heath’s too. A great day out.

Book your place on a day trip to see these beauties next year on Saturday 21st August 2021. Full details here.

21
Aug
20

In the Pink

Pink phase Meadow Grasshopper. Exactly why a species vulnerable to predation should have a ‘pink phase’ is beyond me!

18
Aug
20

The Best British Butterfly … Probably

Arguably the smartest British Butterfly is the Silver Spotted Skipper. Why? Well firstly its identify is beyond doubt when seen; its livery is as distinctive as they come. It is beautiful. It’s a diminutive butterfly full of character; tempting the photographer low to the ground and then before the shutter can be released they skip away in erratic flight. You can almost hear them laugh.

Supposedly a grassland species we saw swarms flying high into Blackthorn bushes this week. What’s all that about?

Come along and join us on a new tour to see these delightful little characters next year on the 12th August. See here https://www.wildlifetoursandeducation.co.uk/tours/special-day-tours/

 

15
Aug
20

Getting anal about damselflies?

Sometimes in Nature it’s easy to overlook things. We have three clear-winged Emerald Damselflies in the UK. Two of them, the common Emerald Damselfly and the much rarer Scarce Emerald Damselfly, are not easy to tell apart – especially the males. In fact it was thought until the 1970’s that the Scarce ED was extinct here in the UK. In reality it had probably been overlooked. Here in Norfolk both species can appear together at the same sites.

The key to telling the males apart is by a close examination of their inferior anal appendages. I know. Sounds disgusting doesn’t it. However, with a good close focus pair of binoculars the tail end of these little odonata can, with practice, give their identification away … without any use of rubber gloves! :0) Looking at the tail end there are a pair of superior anal appendages on the outside and inferior anal appendages within them. On Scarce ED those inferior anal appendages are club shaped and on ED they are straight.

I promise that’s the last time you’ll hear the phrase ‘anal appendages’ today!

12
Aug
20

The Camera Doesn’t Lie

The Camera doesn’t lie. However, we all know it does. The wings on the Broad Bordered Bee Hawkmoth we saw feeding on tour the other week were nothing but a blur in reality. It was the fast shutter speed of the camera that froze the detail.

09
Aug
20

Second time lucky

When I see repeated messages on social media about a bird that is hanging around that I haven’t seen, the thought ‘I wish it would just go!” crosses my mind.

A Lammergeier, or Bearded Vulture as it is sometimes known, has been frequenting the Derbyshire Peak District for quite a few weeks. Having moved North from Central France via the Channel Islands.

There was no ‘numbers based twitching’ reason to go for it. It will never be admitted to the main ‘category A’ British list as it is part of reintroduction scheme and although this bird is second generation offspring the population is not as yet said to be self supporting. So why go to see it? Well, I haven’t seen a Lammergeier since I was in the Pyrenees during the 1980’s. I just felt like I wanted to see one again. It was an itch I had to scratch. They are after all Europe’s largest raptor and a formidable bird with a fascinating ecology flying around the areas I frequented as a boy was just too much of a draw.

Anyway, we went to see it in July. It had taken temporary residence around Ladybower Reservoir. You would think something the size of a small horse would be easy to find. It wasn’t. The absence of a phone signal to receive and give updates of its whereabouts was a thorn in our side, Consequently we ended up not knowing we could have watched it feeding on a dead sheep in a roadside field less than a mile from where we were standing. We had missed out on exceptional views. We left without seeing it.

Last Friday we escaped the excruciating East Anglian heat and went to try again. Some excellent directions given by friend Lee to view its roost site held promise of crippling views. The bird had moved from its previous haunts a little, to the Woodhead area. The roost site at Black Tor was a walk ascending a steep fellside that at one time I would have romped up.  We got there only to find the bird had roosted a couple of miles away on the other side of the valley the previous night.

We waited a while. “It may come back” we thought. It was a beautiful place. The red of the Rowan berries contrasted with billowing purple heather that was punctuated with craggy rocks. It was cool and fresh up there a contrast to the sultry valley bottom. Ring Ousels sang from the crags and Meadow pipits were frantically bringing in food for their young. Ravens were cronking overhead and our Kestrel count easily entered double figures. These were the moors of my childhood.

The need for food eventually took us back to the valley where we took refuge on the roadside in the hope it would fly past. Eventually … it did … albeit at some distance. The bird showed us just how massive it was in relation to the associating Buzzards it dwarfed. We had I suppose a good thirty minutes with the bird before she flew north and out of view.

Was it worth the journeys. Yes. The people we met, the scenery we were among and the tranquility of the moors was worth it alone … the icing on the cake was the bird.

06
Aug
20

Old Blue Eyes

We ignored a White Tailed Eagle and a White Stork on the coast and headed for South West Norfolk today.

The name ‘Southern Migrant Hawker’ does not beligh in any way the beauty of these delicate dragonflies. Perhaps the alternative name of ‘Blue-eyed Hawker’ that has slipped into use is more appropriate. It does sum the beast up quite well. However I’m reluctant to use it because what’s sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander, and I’ not sure I could bear to call Norfolk Hawker ‘Green-eyed’

Anyway we came across about six of these smart dragons today. In the future they will become a regular part of our fauna here within Norfolk. I feel sure of that!

 




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