Tuesday, 12 May 2009

You've had home - now we're going 'away'

The safari took a trip to the hills. Main quarry was Roe Deer. A bright sunny day but a stiff cool breeze. We scanned and scanned the scrub on the hillside for a glimpse of the elusive creatures. Nothing doing, no sign of a pale rump or a black nose lurking in the Rhododendrons. But not 20 yards further on we practically tripped over one. Approaching from downwind it had not smelt or heard us coming. Soon lept up and vanished into the nearest thicket but gave us excellent if brief views but no chance of a photo. A proper job picture of one these animals is high on the safari's hitlist.

We've never seen so many Green Tiger Beetles - they were everywhere, we must have arrived shortly after a major hatch. Flying around all over the shop they were. Look at those eyes what exceptional vision they must have for spottingtheir favourite prey - Ants.

Green Veined Whites gave us the run around at the start of the walk but were very numerous. They cold wind on the higher more exposed slopes put paid to more interesting and much harder to find Emperor Moths and Green Hairstreak butterflies.

Eventually we got 'the' shots!

Epiphytes were doing well in the woodland. Here is a Rowan or Mountain Ash growing on a rotting stump. Mountain ash can be told from 'normal' Ash by its serrated edged leaves.

And a Wood Sorrel growing from a cleft in a live Willow.

Red Campion is a common flower of shady woodlands, at its best just as the canopy starts to close.

A fallen log on the woodland floor was covered in a fascinating variety of Lichens. I know less about lichens than I do about fungi so I can't tell you anythjing about them other than they were worth a long close inspection - great forms, shapes and textures.

A fence runs the length of the path by the reservoir protecting a thin strip of ground with an old dry stone wall on the upperside. I made part of the this old fence and then planted a good few of the trees between the fence and the wall. I remember the ground was incredibly stoney and getting the post in the correct place and vertical was a nightmare and then finding enough soil to plant a sapling also proved difficult. Enough of the self gratification this new section had been put in after some works by the Water Board and a very tricky way of getting 'round' an obstacle it is. What you can't see or indeed smell is the dead Pheasant just out of shot..rally hummed it did...and it wasn't a very nice tune...believe me! Frank on the other hand thought differently.

Perhaps the moment of the day was coming across a tree full of Green Woodpecker holes. Now it was just too tempting to find a pebble from the river and give the old tree a rat-a-tat-tat with it in the hope that a Green Woodpecker's head would poke out of one of the holes. No such luck but we got the shock of our lives when a startled Tawny Owl lept from a hole left by a long shed branch. very nice bonus bird.

In fact the birds were quite poor...plenty of residents and common summer migrants but none of the scarcer, more 'interesting' migrants such as Whinchat, Tree Pipits, Wood Warblers, Cuckoos etc and apart from the owl no raptors at all, not even during the drive out or home.

Creme-de-la-creme was turning a corner to see some ideal reptile habitat. A sunny bank with loose rocks, sheltered from the wind and with only sparse vegetation...'this looks like good reptile habbo...bl******dy 'ell there's one there!'
A Common Lizard was quitely basking in the sun and was quite happy to be photographed.

It let us get quite close! Not particularly easy finding lizards up this way and getting a decent photo takes a lot of luck.

These are nothing...wait till you see the safari's 'extreme' photographer, Raf's, double close close-ups...apparently it looks so big it looks more like a Perentie!
Where to next? I still haven't got to grips with anything properly worthwhile in the seabird migration line and time is marching on.
In the meantime let us know what lucky/great shot your outback 'allowed' you to take.

1 comment:

Monika said...

I love the shot of the person taking a picture of the insect - it's amazing how cool it is to "capture" the moment of "capturing" the wildlife, and I often forget to take some shots of the wildlife photographers in addition to the wildlife.

Oh yes, remember that mystery pink flower you were trying to help me ID on one of my previous blog posts? I *think* I've finally found it - the common stork's-bill, Erodium cicutarium, a cousin of our geranium friends.