Picnic at Bison Hill. July 2014.

Marbled White 
It was just my second visit to Bison Hill, near Whipsnade, and Sarah's first visit. It was a lovely warm day and despite the strong breeze there were butterflies everywhere. Sarah was taken back by the view, you could see for miles today. I set about taking as many shots as I could, but if the butterfly took to the wind then it was gone, whether it wanted to or not, the breeze took it. 
 There were lots of lovely Marbled Whites on the wing and many Chalk-hill Blue's. 
 Chalk-hill Blue
Six-spot Burnet moth
 Skippers were everywhere as were Six-spot Burnet moths. We sat in the shade of a tree and had a picnic whilst watching the butterflies flit past, definitely a chilled out day.
 Small Skipper
 Six-spot Burnet moth
 Green Veined White

 Chalk-hill Blue
 Meadow Brown
 Chalk-hill Blue
 Brimstone
 Brimstone
Peacock

Butterfly Searching. The Lodge, Sandy July 2014.

 My wife, Sarah, and I took a walk around the The Lodge RSPB in Sandy. My targets were butterflies, notably the Silver Washed Fritillary which had been reported there. The weather was beautiful, with a slight breeze that made focusing a tad awkward at times. We headed towards the house and checked the surrounding woods. There was plenty to photograph but unfortunately no sign of any Fritillaries. 
 The Red Admirals are stunning, even alongside the Peacocks they compare just as beautiful. 

 With so many species flying around and feeding I tried to capture a image of as many as I could. There were Large Whites and Small Whites but neither would pose for a photo, not like this Green Veined White did.


 There were a few Ringlets, some rather tatty, around. And a lot of Gatekeepers too, alongside Meadow Browns.

 On the Buddhelia there were good numbers of Six Spot Burnet moths.
Just the one Small Copper was found.
 The Commas were in lovely bright condition.

 Still no sign of the Fritillary but then a real bonus was found, a single Painted Lady. What a lovely butterfly this is, and one I hadn't seen for a long while, not since the invasion of them a few years ago.


 Sarah and I ventured away from the house and on to Jack's pond and the old heath. A male Southern Hawker patrolled the pond there.
 And on the heath a stunning Orange Underwing moth. The colours and patterning on the upperwing were lovely.
 We decided to head back to the house and check again near the Owl carving before heading back to the car. 

 After a few hours of walking around, not far from the car park, we stopped to look at the butterflies on some Buddhleia and low and behold, Sarah said "whats that one there", to which I replied that's "the Fritillary"!
Wow what a lovely butterfly, and what a bonus connecting just as we were heading home. Even though I only had the macro gear with me, I was still close enough to get some shots. 

 Awesome! This was a new species of butterfly for both of us and a joy to see. 


 This shot above was the closest I was able to obtain as it landed nearer on some ferns, it then flew into a hollow out of sight and rested there. It shortly after flew off only to return again.....no this was another one, the markings on the wing where it was faded identified it as another. After it fed for a short while it too headed off across the road and out of sight. What a tremendous end to the walk, superb.



The Swifts are moving on. 16th July 2014.

The Southern Hawker numbers emerged from the pond (that I am aware of) is now up to 15! WOW.
Lovely to see so many butterflies around the garden, with Small Tortoiseshell making up 90% of the numbers and the rest are Peacock,Red Admiral and Comma. Sounds like another brood in the hedge and could be Dunnock, there has been a noticeable amount of Swifts passing overhead and quite a few Swallows, all heading south sadly. 

Wednesday 09th July 2014. New one from the garden.

Whilst sitting in the garden with a mug of tea and a very nice cigar, a Curlew flew over heading north/west, no more Hawkers in the pond today.

Rose Chafer and Hawker numbers rise.

Last week I came across some large insects flying around when out for a walk, not knowing what they were I was eager to get a close up, so when they landed on some thistle heads I moved in. I only had my mobile to capture a picture but was successful in getting a couple of shots. There were quite a few flying around and appeared very large in flight. I then checked the books and found them to be Rose Chafers.
Back at home the Hawker numbers from the pond has now risen to 11 emerged dragonflies, by far the best ever, and also a second frog was present which may bring some little uns' in. My first Hobby of the year was seen from the back garden whilst watching a Sparrowhawk circling.



Emerging Hawkers in the pond. June 2014.


 Monday 30th June 2014.
The Saturday just gone, whilst showing a couple around the garden, I came across the first emerged Dragonfly from the pond. The weather had been showers and cloud so it was still there Sunday night. This morning whilst having my morning cuppa, I headed off to the pond for a look as usual and low and behold I saw another Southern Hawker behind the 1st one drying it's wings out, then on closer inspection another had not long emerged from its larvae casing and still had milky coloured wings. In the image above you can see the 3 in a row. And if that wasn't a pleasing sight then as I scanned the pond I found another on the underside of a reed, but this one was still in its larvae stage and hadn't as yet started to break out. That was me set for the morning, the camera was grabbed and I then took up position laying on the decking around the pond. 
 The image above was the 2nd Hawker to emerge, it was well on the way to fully drying out.
 The 3rd Southern Hawker above had not been out for long, with the wings fully extended they now had to dry and harden.

 With the sun flitting in and out of the reed plants, I took as many pictures as I could, keeping an eye on the last one still waiting to emerge.




 The positioning was good for a change, as they tend to stay towards the back of the pond, but this one was next to where I was laying so all I had to do was make sure I didn't lean over too much and fall in!
 The above images shows it intact, but in the image below you can see the head starting to break through.

 It proceeded to slowly push out and then the head was free from the casing.

 Then one leg opened out
 Followed by the second
 Then all of them.

 As the colour started to change on the eyes and head, the wings then took on a different colour and look as the legs hardened it seemed to clean the feet. Then presumably the legs had hardened enough for it to finally escape the last section and grab the head of the larvae casing, where the wings could now be unfolded. This literally took a few seconds, and I was just checking the other fresh one to see its progress, and upon looking back now found it up the opposite way, I was a bit miffed to say the least but couldn't believe how quick it had moved out of the casing!


 It took such a short time really to get the wings pumped up and fully stretched out, mind you it is obviously vulnerable at this stage. Each of these following images shows it a few minutes apart, you can see the progress in the unfolding. 



It was then just a case of drying out before departing, and slowly they all moved off leaving just the empty alien like cases on the reeds. What a privilege it was to watch this event happening, and a lucky encounter considering how quick they can transform.