Holiday Snaps – Part 2

It occurred to me as I wrote this that blogging is the modern day equivalent of boring your friends and family to death with a slideshow of your holiday pics – only with blogging you get to inflict them on a much wider audience! So apologies for indulging here and sharing more photos.

So just to prove that we do occasionally look at other things besides butterflies and moths, here are some of the best of the rest. The cottage we’d rented was on the edge of a nature reserve, so we were off to a good start without even going anywhere. There was a path leading own to the nature reserve’s lake (Hawes Water) and it was obviously a bit of a thoroughfare for a lot of wildlife. The trail cameras picked up what I think is a female Roe deer both at night and during the day, plus it was nice to see a hedgehog at dusk too.

 

The lake itself had plenty of damselflies buzzing around our little jetty. I identified at least 2 species – Azure (below top) and Blue-tailed (below middle – female, bottom – male), both beautiful insects.

Not exactly wildlife, but it was also nice to have a family of Gloucester Old Spot pigs in the field opposite the cottage.

Venturing out from our cottage we visited some amazing sites. Irton Fell, which we’d gone to primarily for the Mountain Ringlet, had plenty of other wildlife too. Despite the windy conditions up there, there were plenty of insects around including these 2 species of Tiger beetle.

There were lots of small birds flitting between rocky outcrops and fences. Bird ID is not a strong point of mine, but I think these are Stonechat and Skylark.

On our last day, freed from the need to search for butterflies, we went to Foulshaw Moss Nature Reserve. Foulshaw is known for it’s Ospreys. Technically we did see them, via a webcam set up on the reserve. They’d got chicks which we could just about make out on the monitor. The nest was a long way from public footpaths (and rightly so), so no chance of photos – but it’s still the closest I’ve ever been to an Osprey, so it felt like a win.

Foulshaw was also known for a species of dragonfly that would be new to us too – the White-faced Darter. There were a few flitting around, but none were settling. One finally landed in front of me on the boardwalk. I managed a quick record shot, planning to then zoom in for a better one. Just got it focused and a small child ran up and scared it off – I may get over this eventually! So here’s the poor record shot.

So here endeth our holiday snaps. A couple of lifers (Ospreys & Darter) ticked off the list if not photographed properly and a few other favourites seen again. Our holidays tend to be primarily wildlife focussed, but just to prove we do manage a few other activities, here’s me doing the inevitable pose next to Eric Morecambe’s statue at Morecambe Bay.

 

A Pootle Round Poolbrook

This weekend we had a couple of lovely walks around nearby Poolbrook Common in search of butterflies. I say walks, they were really more of a pootle – a gentle meander through the grass. Poolbrook Common is so close to us there was none of the usual “pressure” to see things, as we could always go back the next day, or even later the same day. The butterflies were also so abundant that getting photos was a bit like shooting fish in a barrel. So we pootled happily for an hour or so just enjoying being surrounded by so many butterflies.

The butterflies in question were mainly Marbled Whites, although there were also Meadow Browns, Ringlets, Small Skippers and one Gatekeeper. Poolbrook Common seems to be well managed in that the grass & meadow flowers have been left to grow, then cut later in the year and the butterflies have benefited. We met a walker who told us one of the reasons the Common is managed this way is due to the presence of Skylarks. And sure enough we saw several of these rising high above the grass or flying past with beaks full of large insects.

We didn’t really care whether the Common was managed for butterflies or birds, the end result was lovely. We’d seen on the Malvern Butterfly Facebook Group that the Common was well worth a visit right now and they weren’t wrong! There must have been literally hundreds of Marbled Whites – neither of us have ever seen so many. We both tried getting photos to convey the abundance, but none of them really did it justice.

So I did make this little video, just panning around to try and show how many there were in just a small area. Not sure it was really any more successful than the photo – I think you just have to go and see them for yourself.

Marbled Whites are beautifully photogenic butterflies (not that there are really any butterflies that aren’t photogenic), both from above and from below.

Males and females look similar on the upperside of the wings, but can be differentiated by the undersides. The males have completely black and white patterning.

Whereas the females have a more sepia tone going on.

Mr and Mrs Marbled White.

We saw a few bits of flirtatious butterfly behaviour, but only found one properly mating pair.

None of the ringlets would pose for photos, but fortunately the sole Gatekeeper sat still long enough for one.

The Meadow Browns were quite flighty on Saturday, but on Sunday we’d got up really early and were down on the Common before the butterflies had really woken up. The Meadow Browns were still roosting in the grass and much easier to photograph.

There were plenty of Small Skippers about too; I always think they look cheery little butterflies, I don’t know if it’s their colour or their buzzing flight.

And of course I can never resist a moth, particularly one as dashing as this Five Spot Burnet (possibly Narrow-bordered Five Spot Burnet?) moth.

One final photo, just because we don’t often get the chance to be so face to face with a butterfly!