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Archived & Upcoming Images of the Day
Finally the hot weather has brought out the first dragons - well Hawker Dragonflies at
This female Southern Hawker Dragonfly is perched on a twig basking in the hot sunshine.
This female Migrant Hawker Dragonfly hangs in the shade inside a hedge.
A favourite summer flower is the Crocosmia - intense colour and a beautiful flowering sequence along the always (horizontal) spike.
30 years ago the site barely planted, and to add 'variety' we planted a patch of Day Lily bulbs at the edge of the just dug main pond. They have demonstrated their robust nature by still flowering well into this next century.
We have just one Lime tree, as opposed to about 20 now very tall Large-leaf Limes. This one is just flowering - as you walk by the air fills with a subtle citrus perfume.
Even at 8 a.m. the air temperature is already warm, and the sun feels hot. This Magpie was standing on the mains electricity pole with beak continuously open but not calling. We read this as panting to keep cool.
The Magpie moves about 15m away from us to land on the disused Telephone pole, sees that we were not going to stop our walk along the nearby track, and decides to leave.
A Magpie makes an early morning landing lit by the sun behind. We think that the brown feathers are backlit, while the white primaries are catching the sun directly.
A young Magpie sits high in this conifer watching the world go by.
This is about 7.30 a.m. - it will soon become unpleasantly hot to sit out in the direct sunlight.
Out first sighting this year of a 'Gatekeeper' Butterfly.
The 2 white specks in the black circle are a quick ID assist.
Our first Darter Dragonfly ID of the year (21 July 2021). This is a female Ruddy Darter managing to partly obscure herself on the other side of a very chewed up Iris frond in the middle of the main pond.
We last saw an Emerald Damselfly in 2010 - 11 years ago. This female landed a few metres up a tree and this is the best pic we could get. In the 2010 session we took images of both sexes in our 'flight tunnel' - you can see them at 26 Sep 2010 and 2 Oct 2010.
The male Pheasant is still making regular visits. Here he graces us with a photo complete with the setting sun.
The male Pheasant is beginning to become a little less pristine, but he still looks magnificent.
A pair of Badgers saunter along the edge of Round Pond an hour after midnight.
The night after seeing a pair of Badgers at the Round Pond, here are a pair entering our patch at the south west corner - one in foreground and the other just coming through the hedge behind.
Half and hour later this badger is resting at the Round pond edge, busy grooming the fur.
'Our' grass snake now hears us coming and we rarely take him/her by surprise. This stealthy approach catches the snake almost fully stretched out - estimated length is just under 1 metre.
A Roesel's Bush Cricket we found on a garden bench Note the very long antennae sported by Crickets - Grasshoppers sport much shorter antennae.
The Oxford Ragwort plants have just started flowering. Just right of lower middle you can see the first Cinnabar Moth Caterpillar that we have spotted this year. The top flowerhead is massively deformed. There are several other examples, and some years we see similar on Oxeye daisies. We think it probably an insect converting the flower for breeding purposes, but have been unsuccessful in finding out what species. This plant is poisonous to most creatures, but the Cinnabar Moth absorbs the poison to make itself poisonous, and has the warning colouration to tell the bird not to 'try it for dinner'. We also sometimes see Cinnabar Moths feeding on Groundsel where they don't pick up the poison defence. They don't do as well on this plant, and we haven't seen any on Groundsel so far this year.
The Ragwort has burst into life at several location, and the Cinnabar Moths have been busy laying the eggs to make a good 'crop' of their caterpillars.
The Cinnabar moth Caterpillars are taking over the Oxford Ragwort!
Wikipedia tell us that:-
Cinnabar moth from Europe was released as a biological control agent
against common ragwort in the USA (1991), Australia (2000) and New Zealand (1990)
but apparently with limited success.
Artificial introductions vary from utter failure to complete disasters (like the Australian Cane Toad introduced in 1935 and now a 'plague').
A week later the Cinnabar Caterpillars have just about stripped this and most other Ragwort plants in our patch, but the plants recover every year.
As darkness falls we see an encounter between 2 male Reeve's Muntjac Deer. The difference in size and obviously affection between the two (left middle) suggests to us a Father - Growing up Fawn relationship. We think that Dad is helping his youngster learn a little of the tactics of competing males, but neither of the two want to hurt the other.
Seeing a Red Kite in the far distance circling in a Thermal up-draft is normally followed by the bird disappearing into the haze. This time though the bird made a leisurely drift toward us, and eventually went almost overhead. Here is about half a second of powered flight, spread out vertically a little to see the outlines.
5 seconds later (the camera runs at 10 fps so just count the frame numbers!) we enjoyed this oblique view of the Red Kite.
One Moorhen (of the pair we know we still have) makes a few visits each week to the south hedge bottom site and the woodland site. This view at the hedge bottom seems particular appealing.
Our first sighting of a PAIR of Polecats.
First seen 'canoodling' near the South entrance (left pic), 2 minutes later they are running along in close contact through the orchard.
Close contact MAY mean the male has her by the neck - we can imagine that Polecat courtship may be a bit of a rough-house!
In the small hours of the same night possibly one of the same Polecats stops by the south entrance before undoubtedly speeding away.
Following fleeting overflights, the female Sparrowhawk returns to one of her old haunts.
A Small White Butterfly enjoying a feed from the Privet flowers. Make the most of them - they only flower for a few days!
The Blackberry flowers are now abundant, and this Small Tortoiseshell Butterfly isn't going to skip the opportunity.
Following an initial flurry of Comma Butterflies in Spring, they do their thing, lay eggs and die. The new brood appear as adults in July, and here is a pristine sample. This generation again lay eggs, and the next 'batch' appear in September. It is this generation that overwinter as adults to venture out the following year to start the cycle going again.
This is the second emergence this year of Green-veined White Butterflies. This species overwinters as Chrysalises (or chrysalides) to emerge in Spring, twice laying eggs for 2 summertime generations, before dying in the Autumn and leaving the Chrysalises to emerge to continue the species next year.
The Marmalade Hover-fly stops on this buttercup, only a bit bigger than the insect.
Another Marmalade Hover-fly, this time hovering over
the much larger Rose of Sharon flower.
As well as drinking nectar they eat honeydew and pollen, so this one is above a feast!
The winning entry for this weeks 'most twee Blue Tit' competition.
This juvenile Great Spotted Woodpecker looks small - perhaps a youngster from a later brood.
A White Plume Moth still flutters the wings to gain balance after landing on this grass blade. The name Pentadactyla refers to the 5 separate wing segments that align in the perched insect so it looks like a bit of stick.
A Yellow Shell moth rests on a thistle leaf in the dark of the hedge.
Dad Chaffinch with two of almost certainly his this years youngsters.
An hour later the camera catches this sweetie moment of the two young Chaffinches together on the stone - undoubtedly waiting impatiently for their next feed.
A male Chaffinch flies upwards with a beakful of seeds.
4 days later this male Chaffinch, still in full breeding colours, makes a well controlled approach to landing on the stone.
A recently rare sighting at any of the hi-resolution photo sites of a Reeve's Muntjac Deer. In this case we think the growing fawn stops by for this one photo.
A little delight - 'our' Reeve's Muntjac Deer Fawn gambolling across the woodland site, caught here with all four hooves off the ground but in too random positions and insufficient movement blur to be a high speed run.
This Skylark made an unexpected appearance ascending from the farmers field, singing his silvery song before diving back to the ground.
It seems that on this afternoon the conditions for Swifts to hunt this area were
just right. About 10 birds spent a couple of hours hunting over the farm field around
us, and sometimes over our patch.
In this first montage (probably spaced closer than reality) it interesting to see that the wings turned vertical while the head stay horizontal.
A Swift flying by.
An accurately positioned montage of a Swift in flight at 10 frames per second.
The bland sky prevents any attempt at 'accurately positioned', so here more closely spaced than natural for a better look at the bird.
Checking under the corrugated iron sheet we discover the Grass Snake coiled about as neatly can be. Here is a moment while his forked tongue is visible.
A few seconds later the Grass Snake makes a rather leisurely exit down the
Once we have disturbed the snake on a particular day we leave the corrugated iron untouched for the rest of the day.
Two days later the Grass Snake almost looks as if tied in a knot, but then slithered away so fast we was the only decent pic we got.
Wildlife documentaries seem to us to be obsessed with Deer Ruts and fighting stags, but Reeve's Muntjac Deer seem quieter creatures and we had never before seen them being aggressive. But here over 30 minutes two Reeve's Muntjac stags, both with antlers in velvet, sparred on the Mound with their unfinished antlers.
Wrens are said to be very common, but secretive. Here a juvenile Wren momentarily stops on the tip of the kitchen perch.
Another Wren makes a momentary stop at the hedge bottom stone, but is already crouched for further action.
The female Kestrel makes another visit to the Meadow Post, landing with back
to camera. After 6 minutes she finally turns and we see her half-eaten Rodent.
The camera stop after 10 minutes of continuous exposures and we don't know how long it was before she left.
Two juvenile Squirrels spent 5 minutes 'playing' on the bird table outside the Kitchen Window. It would appear that this 'play' has a substantial sexual element, but they were definitely not actually mating. In the last frame the one on top is here falling off and landing 1.5 metres below without apparent injury.
A pair of Mating Meadow Brown Butterflies enjoying themselves on an Oxeye Daisy flower.
The Privet hedge along some of the access track has several butterflies enjoying the nectar. Here a Small Tortoiseshell.
One of several Red Admiral Butterflies.
The second crop of Speckled Wood Butterflies seems to be emerging. They may be just every brown imaginable, but we find them beautiful.
This male Chaffinch flies over the stone, beak carrying a seed.
This Dunnock flies over the stone.
The juvenile Robin on the stone seems to be practising his aggressive call on the male Chaffinch. The Chaffinch doesn't look the least impressed!
On lifting the corrugated iron sheet we are delighted to get another sighting of
our well grown Grass Snake. In this pic you can see the Snake's forked tongue
flicking in the air.
Why do snakes do this? The Snakes olfactory organ is back inside the head - the tongue picks up the molecules to transfer them to it. So to 'sniff out' the world you have to keep flicking your tongue.
We may be enchanted by the snake, but the snake is not at all enchanted by being rudely uncovered, and promptly slithers down the adjacent (mouse?) hole to completely disappear. Here you see the 'uncoiling' process in action over a few seconds
'Rond de Jambe' Wood Pigeon Style?
The nearest ballet reference we non-ballet followers could find. A word taken from the ballet mistress in 'Phantom of the Opera at the Royal Albert Hall'
Probably a 'pair' of Wood Pigeons sharing the bird table.
The females Kestrel arrived on the meadow post with a Hawker Dragonfly in her
beak - a unique event in our records. The Dragonfly species is clearly
identifiable from the pic - a female Brown Hawker Dragonfly.
One could object to the Kestrel killing this beautiful creature, but the Dragonfly itself feeds purely by hunting, and so on down the food chain.
Although Owls carry prey items in their beaks, we had assumed that Kestrels always carried prey in their talons. Maybe the Kestrel found the Dragonfly sunbathing on the post and snatched it with the beak. But is so light (less than 1 gram) and she could also easily fly with it.
We tabulated weights of some insects over a decade ago - see Weights of Insects
The female Kestrel is here hunting from a power line, accompanied by a Wood pigeon on the other cable. The Kestrel obviously caught something about 7 minutes after the top photo, and took it to the meadow post to devour it where the automatic camera caught the action.
After closely spaced return visits to old haunts around our patch, the female kestrel has settled to her more normal hunting pattern where we see her on just 2 or 3 days a week.
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