Wednesday, 6 July 2016

Come down come down where-ever you are

The Safari was pleased to see another Little Egret on Patch 2 yesterday, we saw another but we're pretty sure it's the same one as last weeks, it fished in exactly the same places. We first saw it sail gracefully past at eye-level only a few feet the other side of the seawall and watched it come to land in the pool at the southern end of the patch. Nipping back into the office for the camera once back out it had saved us a walk by coming much nearer. Off we went to get a closer look but even as stealthy as we were being we still managed to flush it again, it is so flighty! But it didn't disappear just relocated to the pool right below our normal watch point. We were able to cautiously peer over the wall and fire off a few shots before it spotted us and was off again, this time well away and well out of range.
If the Little Egret keeps up this rate of sightings it'll become a more regular visitor to Patch 2 than the Collared Dove we saw whip over the seawall up over the office and away inland, only the second sighting of this very common and widespread species here this year!
Mid-morning we were working on the wildlife garden with our volunteers when a bit of Cleavers pulling (we leave some just in case any Hummingbird Hawkmoths turn up) revealed a recently departed nest which we'd not noticed before but might have been built and used while we were down in Wales and Cornwall and off recuperating after our operation. We think it's from a pair of Goldfinches.
Minutes later a bearded bloke wearing a green hi-vis vest and very expensive looking builders wellies wandered past and said a cheery hello to which we replied summat like 'al-reet mate' and carried on working ('working' - we're not allowed to do that anymore cos of our hands so it's more like standing and pointing watching the others do all all the work) and that was that. He went to sit on the bench by the 'Solar System' in the garden and was joined in a short while by a film crew - it was TV presenter Nick Knowles and we hadn't recognised him. We didn't get a chance to go and have a chat to him about his Wildest Dreams programme a few years ago for which we were offered a part but unfortunately had to turn down. 
Nothing else of note was found during our morning work party although a bright fresh Small Tortoiseshell flew through as we were packing up the tools, it didn't linger.
Butterflies were order of the day later. CR txtd to offer a lift to Patch 1 after work, to look for the recently reported White Letter Hairstreaks, which we gratefully accepted.
It was warm and mostly sunny down in the 'Butterfly Zone' and the Cleggs were hungry, just as well we'd juiced up with Jungle Formula before heading out. The target butterfly's favourite tree was being blown around a bit too much by a stiffish breeze which we couldn't feel down at ground level.
Down in the shelter  it was insect heaven - apart from the Cleggs! - There were plenty of butterflies on the wing including several Meadow Browns.
Plenty of fresh Small Skippers
Female - no scent brand on the wing
 And some now getting rather tatty Large Skippers
We looked up at regular intervals but saw no sign of any White Letter Hairstreaks. Below us on the Brambles there was a multitude of hoverflies of numerous species and bees galore. From the depths of the long grass we heard the chirping of grasshoppers. A Large White butterfly flitted through the now impenetrable due to excessive Bramble growth glade and a couple of Speckled Woods danced around but refused to settle.
Eventually all our neck straining paid off and we did see a single White Letter Hairstreak but it was only a brief view as it chased some other large insect round the tree top and never reappeared. Good but not good enough.
Just before it was time to leave another species of butterfly showed up and did settle just long enough for its pic to be taken, a nice bright Comma
Seven species of butterfly in an hour all within a few yards of each other is never to be sniffed at even if the holy one didn't show itself properly.
As CR was putting his kit back in the boot of the car he spotted a Field Grasshopper sat on the wall about a foot above the top of the grass along the verge. After hearing so many but nor seeing a single one it was nice to be able to point the camera at one out in the open.
Today we have ransacked the beach, pond and wildlife garden with a class of children from a local school. We've seen all the old favourites but been too busy to be able to take any pics for you. Best thing they found? Probably the ?Common Darter nymph in the pond, their favourite? The poisonous black and yellow stripey Cinnabar moth caterpillars...or maybe that Black Ant's nest that the little fellas will have to rebuild tonight!
As soon as the ysat down to lunch not one but three Small White butterflies appeared over the garden, one of which we were able to net and bring over to show them. We were also able to net a very busy White Tailed Bumble Bee with huge pollen sacs which was met with more squeals of terror than stares of curiosity. Parent's have a lot to answer to for giving their kids irrational biophobias. OK it's a bee and it might, just might sting, and that'll hurt a bit for an hour or so but is really worth screaming the house down and running round in a blind panic over? Once the terrors had subsided a little some of the 'braver' children noticed it was quite hairy and when calmly walking over the net rather than flying even asked if they could stoke it - good on em, but we did refuse just in case. We don't mind getting stung during a demo, although we have to say we'd rather not, but it's probably best if the children don't.
Where to next? We're back out for a couple of hours with the Biodiverse Society again tomorrow morning. At a different site to last weeks but close by, wonder what goodies they'll find this time. We've found Annual Wall Rocket at work too after being shown it for the first time by the team last week.
In the meantime let us know who's not leaving the treetops in your outback.

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