Tuesday, 24 July 2012

All of a flutter.

Having spent the last 26 days chasing insurance companies, insurance assessors, estate agents, relocation solution experts, property maintenance companies, gas and electricity supply companies i must admit that the world around me has been slightly neglected. How much money do "the big boys" make out of "the general public" by taking the mickey with their automated answering systems which can take up to 5 minutes to connect you to the person who may.....if you are very lucky.......finally help you.
Anyway...stuff it. We will get somewhere one day soon.
Today on my pilgrimage from South Gosforth to Wallsend calling at all stations including Longbenton, Four Lane Ends, Benton and Palmersville via the Rising Sun i saw my first blue butterfly of the year shortly followed by my first Small Skipper. What an awful year for our spectacular butterflies, not to mention our stunning dragons and damsels. A number of Common Blue and Blue-tailed Damselflies kept me entertained at the Plantation Dipping Pond with a Southern Hawker Exuvia the only representative of our Anisoptera. At the Double Dipping Ponds i again had the previous couple of species of Zygoptera but a few Large Red added to the numbers. All the way through the site i had large numbers of Ringlet and Meadow Brown Butterflies but it was very quiet on the bird front, as would be expected.
Common Blue Butterfly
Under wing, Common Blue
Small Skipper.
Both the species of Butterfly i captured on my camera were male. In the case of the Blue, the colouration tells you so. The under wing can be checked to establish the correct species. The Small Skipper has a mark on the upper side of the fore wing which is in fact a line of specialised scent scales.

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Heath Fritillary Butterfly, East Blean Woods, Kent.

I've had this very special and rare (in the U.K.) butterfly on my radar when visiting Kent but this was the first time i've been down there during the imago flight period. The only day i went out birding and butterflying it was bright and sunny but blowing a gale. I visited Stodmarsh Nature Reserve for over 6 hours and came back with very few images. I saw 5 Marsh Harriers on the wing at the same time and 4 Cettis Warblers were heard with 2 of them seen fleetingly. Dozens of Reed and Sedge Warblers around the reserve and lots of other birdsong but any other birds that ventured from the undergrowth and took to the air looked to have been catapulted from A to B. It's a great place for Dragons and Damsels but i only saw a handful of common Damsels secreted about, mainly on Flag Iris and 1 brave/ daft Dragon patrolled the boardwalk briefly but it was moving at such a pace i couldn't i.d. it. I had a nice day there but left slightly disappointed mainly because i didn't see or hear a single Bearded Reedling.
Off to East Blean Woods, with not much hope on the butterfly front. I found the needed larval plant food Common Cow-wheat and started hunting for the adult. The wind hadn't eased at all and i couldn't see any. I was cheered up slightly by the yaffling of a Green Woodpecker and found 3 formicaries of Wood Ants as i systematically worked my way through the tall grasses and ferns then a single specimen lifted. As any butterfly photographer will tell you it can be a very frustrating subject, depending on species, to catch up with never mind capture. This species turned out to be a perfect model. BUT.........there's always a but, the wind was terrible.
Heath Fritillary. The underwing is superb.
I couldn't get a good shot of the upperwing. This f2.8 job was about the best.

 Left frustrated for the second time on the day as i knew some fantastic photographic opportunities of this stunner had been spoilt. I was happy however that i did get first hand close views. I've got to get back some time. Just got to.

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

One of the victims of the flood

Our 3 month old car disappears down the street. Pleased to see it go as the electrics obviously went haywire in the floods and an hour or so adter the deluge had stopped the windscreen wipers started up, a c.d. in the player started going in and out and one of the windows decided to wind down. It stood there open to the world untill late yesterday having told the insurance company to get themselves down and shift it before someone else did. The driver who took it away told us of cars having been lifted on the back of trucks and taken off by rogues. The police in the Morpeth area were checking documentation of trucks with cars on the back to check they were legitimate.We have had to chase numerous "scrap men" who have been coming along and trying to take away belongings from front gardens, lots of which have to be seen by loss adjusters. The insurance people have told some folk that they will not be paid for any goods stolen before these adjusters have seen them. We had the "rogue builders" around on Friday promising they will sort our insurance out for us and do a brilliant job.
I have told all of these VERMIN politely (well sort of) to go away.

Monday, 2 July 2012

Red-necked Phalarope, Backworth Flash.

The above mentioned bird is showing well in the corner of the flash. Viewed this morning, Monday between 6.30 - 7.00 from track that passes through the kennels. Fairly distant for images but was seen 3/4 times quite clearly through scope.
A phone call to Howdon Blogger late last night and John was picking me up on Station Road in Wallsend at 5.30. We tried to find bird from the road initially but no success before heading out on the track. The bird however was probably showing from the road when it appeared. Also seen was a Common Sandpiper,a couple of Oystercatchers, Grey Heron, 2 female Shovelers and assorted ducks and gulls. Our first good bird of the day however was a Barn Owl lifting from just behind the flash before heading out to hunt over the fields. Ironically John is back at work today following a weeks holiday, dropping me back home before heading into town following a poor week off work birdwise. He left me going in after that week off with a smile on his face.( How often do you do that?) The Phalarope and Barn Owl viewings cheering us both up.


Sunday, 1 July 2012

A Warbler becomes a Wader.

Paddling through at least 600mm of filthy flood water the other day i thought to myself "I'm a wader !!!!!"
"But i prefer being a Warbler"

Seriously, can i thank everyone who had phoned, e mailed and posted comments passing on their sympathies.
I'm one of lifes optimists and my philosophy is that it is no good falling apart and feeling sorry for yourself but you have to get on with it. We have been fairly lucky in my opinion as the water had just about gone by 11 a.m. the following morning so we could get on with making the place habitable for a few days untill we get rehoused while the work needed is carried out. Things made difficult by the fact that there is no electricty downstairs, no gas and our 3 month old car stands stricken outside the front door, with a tide mark around the bonnet, untill that gets sorted. It was strange looking out the bedroom window the other night shortly after the deluge had stopped and the sun was shining and our semi submerged car decided to turn both front and rear windscreen wipers on until it died a death, literally. Kinda summed it up really !!!
Can i just say that NORTH TYNESIDE COUNCIL have been MARVELLOUS since and every day council staff and sub contractors have been around sorting out electrity, gas and rubbish problems. Almost everybody has been brilliant, with the exception of the odd pea-brained imbecille neighbour who wandered about waist or chest deep in some places, laughing and joking with the expected mobile phone adhered to the side of the head. An hour or two later a rescuer came around in full protective gear with a pole probing the ground for lifted and potentially killer lifted drain/ manhole covers telling you not to venture out in case you went down one of these.Suprisingly no moron was injured that i know of.
I must sign off as the missus has been awoken by the thumping of the keyboard and asked " can you not just look at some buterfly photographs ?"
I had better go.


A  p.s.
We have no internet connection. We are connected via. next doors wireless router but the neighbour has no electricity except for the extension cable passed from our rear bedroom to hers !