Sunday, 9 August 2015

Good start dreadful finish

The Safari drove down the Prom to carpet-like sea and as blue can be, it looked great for cetacean spotting, rarely better. We also saw there was a new rig in town for the pipe laying engineering works, we'd have to have a look at what was going on.  
As soon as we got to work we grabbed the scope and were out on the wall. A quick look at the rigs showed they were still some way off getting into position being towed and pushed by small tugs. Time to look at the nearby terns, several of which were fishing all around the rigs and boats. Then we saw a much bigger splash - that was no tern making the water boil like that. it didn't take long before another was seen and this one had a fin associated with it. Then two fins and a body...Bottlenosed Dolphins - result! Any day with dolphins is a good day so we watched as long as we dared seeing at least three, there could easily have been more but three was the most we saw at any one time. It was now too late to look closely at the birds but hey ho we'd seen Bottlenosed Dolphins; what more d'you want!
Rigs a mile from the wall - the dolphins were on;y a few hundred yards to the left
A walk down the corridor had us looking out of the window as per usual - but this time there was something to see, no people on the green meant there was time and space for some Starlings and something smaller to be able to have a few minutes feeding time before the next kids or dog walkers appeared.
The small one was a Wheatear, our first of the autumn and far from regular here. We went back to the office and grabbed the camera. Out on the field it was very skittish but we eventually tracked it down to the raised garden area.
Not long after we got a phone call from Wifey in a dreadful state, Frank had collapsed at her office and didn't look good. Her boss had let her leave early after calling the vets and arranging for them to come to look at him at Base Camp - they have high steps to their surgery and she was convinced Frank wouldn't be able to climb them.
We arrived a Base Camp only minutes behind her and it was obvious the big fella was struggling. We made him as comfortable as possible and gave him lots of cuddles but decided between us he couldn't continue like this and his time had come - he'd had a close shave a couple of months earlier when we thought the vet might be needed but he made a bit of miraculous recovery at the eleventh hour. This time there was to be now eleventh hour miracle.
The vets came and the sad deed was done outside in the sunshine; he'd somehow managed to drag himself out there, every step we could hear is hips grinding and he was so wobbly but outside he was determined to get. His tail didn't stop wagging until the very end as he slipped quietly and peacefully from this world. ...our world had just changed for ever and poor Wifey had just lost her shadow. It was going to be a long hard quiet and empty night. We said any day with dolphins is a good day sadly this proved to be the worst of days.
We knew we'd need some wildlife therapy and with a good forecast put the moth trap out.
After a tearful and fitful night we went out to find the moth trap reasonably full. Nothing mega-exciting but just working through the egg boxes and field guides was good for the soul taking our mind of yesterday's despairing turn of events. 
The most photogenic were a couple of micos
Acleris forsskaleana
Lobesia abscana - thanks to Young Un JS for the ID
 Top of the macros was a nice Lychnis
And the first of no doubt many Lesser Broad Bordered Yellow Underwings.
The rest of the morning was heart wrenchingly difficult as we sorted Franks things out. But again wildlife came to the rescue. It was a nice warm summer's day and Patch 1 had a Fun Day on so with Wifey out on family duties we decided to grab the bins and camera and wander over that way through the Butterfly Zone, it being the penultimate day of the Big Butterfly Count. The butterflies didn't disappoint and once again our mind was occupied in a constructive way counting and trying to get pics pf the flutters. 
The first we found was a Speckled Wood baskng in a shaft of harsh sunlight in the scrubby wooded area.
After that we resolved to try to take pics of butters from less than usual angles - assuming they'd oblige. First up was a fairly standard Meadow Brown and then we saw it had two white spots in the eye-spot.
It started to wander round the Creeping Thistle head and gave us the opportunity for a non-standard buttterfly pic.
The star attraction stayed way up high in the tree top.
It is a White Letter Hairstreak - honest
As we were looking for the White Letter Hairstreaks a young Sparrowhawk started to beg, calling loudly, somewher up and behind the butterfly tree. It then broke cover briefly still calling.
We had a look round the fair and everyone was very kind about Frank; we have to say a big thank you to everyone who's left comments on Twitter and FB, they've meant a lot to us and Wifey.
Walking back to Base camp through the butterfly zone again we found a huge Orpheon Wasp that was a little on the shy side.
There were Gatekeepers everywhere, some quite small and momentarily looking like something other than a Gatekeeper. Meadow Browns still patrolled the grassland as did several Small Skippers but we only saw one very tatty Large Skipper. Above the Bramble thicket a Brown Hawker dragonfly  swooped around. Thankfully there were no Cleggs making standing round in the pleasant sunshine watching the butterflies in a t-shirt enjoyable rather than torture.
At last our quarry appeared if a little distantly over the top of the thicket.
After a few minutes nectaring it went walkabout on a Bramble step and fell asleep heady stuff that nectar!
A couple of butterfly enthusiasts arrived and we were able to pout them straight on to the one they'd come to see. We got another 'untypical pose' pic.
And took about hundred 'normal' ones too.

Why sit in the dry when you can sit in a ditch! Night night Big Fella - stay muddy wherever you go
Where to next? #HenHarrierDay and hopefully it won't rain (= Noah-like deluge) this time.
In the meantime let us know who's basking in the sunshine in your outback.

1 comment:

cliff said...

You've had some blinding WL Hairstreak sessions this summer, I've only had that brief treetop sighting from when I was there with you, mind I've only visited once more since then - need to get out more!

Great shot of the big fella there!