Saturday, 8 September 2012

Monarch of the Glen - Sir Edwin Landseer

A very early start this morning as even 
JUPITER, well left of the waning MOON, were still showing high in the heavens. Venus, the brightest Planet, was also visible but well to the east of the other 2 bodies.
Despite the 'red sky in the morning' (shepherd's warning) things looked set for another beautiful summer-like day so all we needed now was the first bus.
 For the second time within 8 days there was another good bird to be seen from the window as we passed Ferry Bridge, an AVOCET seemingly feeding in the shallows close to the road, but not close enough or time for a photograph.
Content with that, I decided to tweak the plan slightly and get off at Barleycrates Lane but with the benefit of hindsight maybe a better bet would have been to alight at Sweethill? Almost bird-less throughout the full length, all that was on offer was this distant SPARROWHAWK, likely part of the reason nothing much else was to be seen.
Just a little improvement arriving at the old Admiralty Establishment fence, where it was noted CARRION CROW numbers were increasing, probably reaching 3 figures before making it to the Observatory.
c4 WHEATEAR broke cover from a very small Bramble Bush, likely from 'roost', and looking back to investigate some avian commotion there was another
SPARROWHAWK playing havoc with what small birds were around.
That's when the weather broke as a wide band of low cloud obscured the Sun akin to an eclipse as things seemed to go quiet and the cool of the gentle easterly breeze could be felt.
A couple of MEADOW PIPITs then drifted into camera range, which on editing this individual appears to have something of a peachy blush to the flank. I'm not suggesting it is a Red-throated Pipit but someone a little more learned than I might just like to give it the 'once over'.
Arriving at the Obs, there were another c2 SPARROWHAWKs seemingly arriving from seaward but with little else to view it was straight to the Moth trap. A night of good numbers included
close relative GARDEN CARPET
and WILLOW BEAUTY (can you see it yet?)
but undoubtedly the star of the catch and attracting many admirers was a
CONVOLVULUS HAWK-MOTH. It was unanimously agreed that the 'eyes' on such a creature are something to behold. To give some idea of size comparison, the accompanying digits are those of an adult male.
On such a day it was probably inevitable that the Warden MARTIN CADE would produce a SPARROWHAWK from one of the 'mist nets', which he duly did.
These Accipiters are usually fairly lively 'in the hand', so rather Martin than me,
so no surprises with all the squawking and jiggling about
during the brief period it was held
and shown to the appreciative few. By now the Sun was once again trying to break through, but those awaiting its appearance were not sun-bathers, far from it, but had far more important things on their minds. Visiting 'birder' Josh Jones @ blogspot  a 22 year old graduated from the University in Sheffield, working with BirdGuides in London, agreed that my local knowledge would be fair exchange for a lift in his car to the site where the sun might, once again, attract a 'rare' visitor. Arriving at Lady Mead, Easton there was no sign so was worth me just popping around the corner to see what progress on the Gold Post Box, 
this is what I found. Not a problem later, but first a return to Josh and a gathering crowd,
where, as yesterday the MONARCH BUTTERFLY had once again returned to the lone Buddliea Bush in the ornamental garden.
Known mostly as a North American species of Milkweed Butterfly, it is resident in the Canary Islands the Azores and Madeira and is found as an occasional migrant in Western Europe but a rare visitor to the United Kingdom.
Probably most famous for its southward migration and northward return in summer from Canada to Mexico, which spans the life of three to four generations of the Butterfly.
It always did have lumps out of its fore-wings, but not surprising considering the distance it has flown.
and so to the GOLD POST BOX a tribute to Helena Lucas who's story can be found via the Dorset Echo.
Some people just have to get in on the act.
Before returning home I was thrilled to bits to meet up with one of my old drinking mates and also ex-Submariner JOHN BRASHER. Now a 'Watch Captain' with the Coast Guard Service, I haven't seen him since he joined up, who knows how many years ago. Great to see you again Shipmate and hope its not so long next time!
Talking of home, where I ended up mid-afternoon, there was another Butterfly species to add to those already sighted on the 'self-set' Buddleia in my garden, this time a PEACOCK - bring 'em on!


  1. I'm no expert on birds Paul (Feathered type anyway), but I keep staring at the images of both species in my book and it could be a first winter Meadow. Thanks for posting the glorious Monarch.

  2. Yes Roy, only ever thought it was Meadow but interesting to see the tinges. Monarch up there with the BEST!