Everything has it's beauty, but not everyone sees it. - Confucius
Sometimes the picture doesn't have to be perfect; it's the captured moment that counts. - me
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Monday, 29 June 2009

The second bit; butterflies and the tree culprit.

So, after watching the raging Coots, I made my way to where the Butterflies would be; hopefully. This particular stretch alongside the south lake, is thankfully left to do its own thing for most of the year. And it does. Masses of wild flowers grace both sides of the footpath.

At the moment, Common Knapweed rules the roost,

and it attracts all kinds of insects. The bees love it,

drunkenly gorging on the nectar. And plenty of Butterflies taking their fill too.

Small Tortoishell, jockeying along with,

Gatekeeper. There were more Marbled White’s fluttering around, and every step produced Damsels taking to the air, briefly, before settling again. Not to be outdone, Six-spot Burnet Moths seemed to be everywhere.

I could have easily spent the rest of the morning just here, but I steadily made my way to the bottom end of the lake. A Little Egret flew overhead, and down amongst the grass I noticed a caterpillar.

The spines looked pretty lethal to me; no idea what it was, so I left well alone, and turned my attention to another first, for me.

A Ringlet. A beautiful dark chocolate brown, fluttering amongst the grass. And close by, a similar brown one, though not as dark.

Meadow Brown. And just ahead of these, a smaller brown chap,

Small Skipper.

I looked up towards the path, and a few people were out for a stroll. They were blissfully unaware of all the beauty just a few feet away from them.
I wanted to shout out, ‘Hey! Look at all this!’ but I didn’t; I’m not ready to be locked up yet as a madman. Instead I slowly walked on through the grass and flowers, towards the ‘horror tree.’

I left the Butterflies flying and gorging, and turned the final curve of the lake, back towards my starting point. It was getting very warm; no hot, despite the lack of strong sunshine. The lake looked inviting; a midday swim to cool off?
No, I decided against it. That would be madness.

A tall Orchid was growing by the side of the lake, the first time I’ve noticed Orchids here.

Name? Unknown to me; but a beauty.

And there, just ahead, stood the ‘horror tree.’

Now if you’ve read this far, and you’re beginning to think, ‘what’s he on about, horror tree?’ fear not, I’m not really mad. In a previous post, I’d mentioned a defoliated tree, covered in silk and caterpillars. It looked dead, like something from a horror movie, hence ‘horror tree.’ A couple of weeks later it had started to fight back, with new leaves, but still silk and caterpillars.

And today?

A brand new tree.

On closer inspection it still had some silk, but the caterpillars had turned into moths. Little white ones, with black spots.

Literally thousands of them. Some had fallen dead to the ground, around the tree, but the rest, an air force, waiting to take flight into the unknown.

Bird-cherry Ermine Moth.

They were everywhere; under the leaves, on the leaves, on the trunk, and on me. Most were content to just sit; while others were exercising their tiny wings, ready for their maiden flight. And some just dropped to the ground.
An amazing spectacle.

Glad I had cleared up my little mystery, I carried on my way, with a weary spring in my step, past another small group of Swans by the rowing club,

and eventually found the car.

But by way of proving to me, that Coots aren’t the belligerent birds we normally see, this parent was having a ‘tender’ moment, feeding one of its youngsters.


Sunday, 28 June 2009

Saturday at Caldecote.

With a weekend off I was looking forward to going somewhere, after a busier than normal week at work. But come the day, in all honesty, I felt so tired, (must be my age), I didn’t fancy the prospect of a bit of travelling. The weather didn’t look that good either; a lot of cloud. Very warm though, the kind of heat people call ‘muggy.’

I decided to go up the road instead, to the local. I stuffed my pockets with the tools of the trade; spare batteries, notebook, fags and lighter, and popped my little compact camera in a pocket too, just in case. No point in taking the macro lens with all this cloud around, I thought, so I just took the other beast with me, Canon and zoom.
As I made my way round the lake, the Reed Warblers were singing away from the cover, and I noticed masses of Meadowsweet growing alongside, looking like a white carpet.

Closer inspection reveals its delicate beauty.

Moving on, more birds were joining in with a chorus of sounds. A Song Thrush was dueting with a Blackbird; both high in separate trees, as young Blue Tits raced noisily through the branches. I slowed down, to watch and listen to the Swifts as they screamed overhead. And down by my feet, some Self Heal was carpeting the floor.

Up ahead, by the bridge was where the Mallard family, with the white chick, usually hang out. Usually. Today they were off in the distance, out of my range for a decent shot, but at least they all looked fine, swimming around; the white one very noticeable. At the bridge is the spot where the Coots took over the nest from The Great Crested Grebes, and they were still sitting tight. It seems the Grebes have moved further on in the reeds, and they seemed quite content with their new residence. A few young stripy chicks were patiently waiting for dad to come up with some food, like a pair of humbugs, gently floating in the water.
As I crossed the bridge, another Grebe, sitting tight on her nest.

All this nesting activity seemed a little late in the day to me, but they can have one to two broods a year, so lets hope they’re all successful.

As I turned the curve of the lake, over on the far side, a large number of Canada Geese were making their way to the water.

As they slowly filed their way to the water, and began to swim away, they reminded me of the herds of Wildebeast I’d seen on programmes before, as they congregate, and make their way across rivers, on their marathon journeys. The only thing missing was waiting crocodiles.

Flight practice time.
A Common Tern was cruising up and down by the edge, and occasionally diving down to the water to catch a fish.

Yea, I need more practice! I did like this next one though, as he turned for a steep dive.

This Crow proved easier;

he wasn’t budging one bit, and quite happy to watch me, as I slowly walked past.

At this point I had a choice. Take the path around the next part of the lake, or take the long grass by the edge. I took the low road, and wandered through the waist high grass. It was getting hotter; a weak sun was filtering its warmth through the cloud.
A few Damselflies were taking to the air as I brushed my way through the mini jungle, but one hadn’t quite made it earlier. A Common Blue had become trapped in a spider’s web, and was being prepared for the larder.

I watched the gruesome events unravel, as the spider began draining the life fluids from his hapless victim, and occasionally spinning him vigorously, as he dangled from a tiny thread on the web.
A bright flash to my side broke my morbid concentration, and as I turned to see what it was, not one, but two Butterflies. A species I’d never seen before. Marbled White.

I took loads of pictures, excitement I guess, but I also wanted to make sure I had at least one decent shot. Here’s a couple.

The choice of the long grass had proved worth it.

I carried on to the top of the lake, and on the wall of the overflow section, a Coot had made a nest, with two young sitting inside.

A mish mash of sticks, reeds and moss, perched on top of the wall. They seemed content enough though.

Mum and Dad had made a pretty good job with what was available. Maybe not a penthouse by our standards, but certainly close to all amenities.

Turning down the side of the lake towards the southern end, a large group of Greylag Geese; young and adults, were ‘taking five’ in the heat.

I sat down for a while, and took five with them, snatching a few shots.

Reluctantly I left them to it. I still had half a lake to go yet.
Getting close to the pub, (oh how tempting that looked), another large group of Canada Geese were making their way to the cooling water.
Quite a large group in fact. Joining the group already in the water, I guess this is what a ‘gaggle’ of geese looks like.

I didn’t count them, there were more out of the shot, but at least a hundred; or more. I think half of Canada’s geese were here. Quite a sight to see.

And watching them too, a Grey Heron.

Probably wondering where they were all coming from. He stood watching them as they all filed past,

no doubt thinking, ‘that’s the fishing spoilt for a while.’

Up at the pub, another ‘gaggle’, smaller, but still a good number.

Greylag Geese this time; and not be outdone, the swans were gathering.

Was there something going on I didn’t know about? Whatever it was, it’s good to know that there are such healthy numbers just up the road from me.
Lucky me’, I thought.
A small group made a pleasing picture.
The tranquilly was short lived though. Just along from the peace, war was breaking out between four Coots. And what a war. Much splashing and thrashing about in the water.

and as suddenly as it started, it stopped, and peace and tranquillity ruled the waves again.

And tranquillity lay up ahead. Butterfly country.

I’ll do that for another time; way too much already. Just beyond the Butterfly territory is the home of the ‘horror tree’ from a previous post.

And I finally found out who is responsible.