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Birdwatcher’s Diary No.90

Published on: 4 Jul, 2015
Updated on: 17 Apr, 2021

By Malcolm Fincham

Not getting out as much as I would have liked to locally during the last few weeks of June, due to health reasons, I was surprised to see how much nature I could observe just by sitting out in my back garden.

With local swifts continuing to scream overhead, I was able to locate some of the roof spaces they had taken up their summer residence. This inspired me to perhaps set up a nesting space in my house to add to their choices in years to come.

I also had a few critters come to visit my garden, as the sunny late June weather continued to warm the air.

A frog watches out from beside my pond.

A frog peered out from between some ivy by my pond.

Stag beetle- a welcome visitor to my garden.

Stag beetle- a welcome visitor to my garden.

Also a stag beetle, now considered an endangered  species, lumbered its way across my patio.

While taking a few pictures of it I recalled when I was young child I was so petrified of them. I now hold them in great esteem.

Holly blue.

Holly blue.

I even had a second sighting this year of a holly blue butterfly in the garden, it even hung around just long enough to snatch a few pictures.

The most unusual insect I spied however, was quite a curiosity. I caught sight of four of them, glistening in the sunlight.

Rose chafers are capable of very fast flight, flying with their wing cases down like bumble bees.

Rose chafers are capable of very fast flight, flying with their wing cases down like bumble bees.

Taking a few photos, thenlooking up what they might be, I can only guess them to be rose chafer beetles. Although I would be happy to be corrected.

Cuckoo on Thursl;ey Common.

Cuckoo on Thursley Common.

Although summer seems to have only just arrived for us in the UK, it definitely appears to be over for the cuckoo according to the latest BTO tracking data. Having last seen one on Thursley Common over two weeks ago and not having even heard one since, I’m certain our local ones have also started their journey back to Africa.

A hobby hawking for dragonflies on Thursley Common.

A hobby hawking for dragonflies on Thursley Common.

On a visit to Thursley Common on a pleasant, sunny June 26, I was greeted by a line of photographers patiently waiting on the main boardwalk that leads out across to the heathland by Pudmore Pond.

All with the hope of having success in getting some stunning pictures of the hobbies as they swooped  low across the water hunting dragonfly. They were indeed in luck.

Speaking to one photographer, one particular ‘tercel’ (a falconry term, as well as an old English name for a male hawk or falcon) had been showing exceptionally well.

Having got what I felt were some reasonable shots for my previous reports and limited for time, I continued my walk up on to the heathland.

Keeled skimmer on Thursley Common.

Keeled skimmer on Thursley Common.

Taking a few pictures of the various dragonfly along the way, I came across what I believe to be a keeled skimmer. Not a rarity on Thursley Common but worth a snapshot nonetheless.

With the warm sun continuing to shine, the sound of tree pipits and even a skylark could be heard overhead.

Stonechat on Thursley Common.

Stonechat on Thursley Common.

While stonechats perching up on gorse bushes and dead tree stumps along the way, added to the relaxing walk.

Heather starts to blossom on Thursley Common.

Heather starts to blossom on Thursley Common.

On arriving on the hilly slopes close to the A3, as I anticipated, the heather was just starting to come into flower.

Silver-studded blue.

Silver-studded blue.

Coinciding with this was my first sightings this year was a dozen or more silver-studded blue butterflies that had emerged to feed on the blossom.

Naked Wood, Chiddingfold..

Oaken Wood, Chiddingfold.

On Saturday, June 27, with the insistence of good friends Dougal and Bob, I was picked up and taken by car to Oaken Wood near Chiddingfold.

Purple emperor from my last year's picture library.

Purple emperor from my last year’s picture library.

This was with the hope of getting some views and maybe some pictures, as I did about this time last year, of the purple emperor butterfly.

Marbled white.

Marbled white.

Arriving at the start of the walk we were welcomed by the sound of two marsh tits calling, as well as the sight of marbled white butterflies now starting to emerge in good numbers.

Silver-washed fritillary at Oaken Wood.

Silver-washed fritillary at Oaken Wood.

Although not fortunate enough to get to see our target species, we were also able to add silver-washed fritillary to our year list.

White admiral.

White admiral.

As well as several white admirals now on display there.

Speckled wood.

Speckled wood.

Ringlet.

Ringlet.

While other open woodland species such as speckled wood and ringlets could also be seen.

With Dougal in charge of the day’s itinerary, we then drove to Box Hill, Dorking, and by walking the slopes from the top, also abundant with marbled white butterflies.

Dark green fritillary in flight.

Dark green fritillary in flight.

We were able to add (though not catch one to settle long enough to photograph stationary) dark green fritillary butterflies.

Large skipper.

Large skipper.

As well as large skippers.

Ending the day, we decided to see if we could spot, as we did in my last year’s report, the elusive white-letter hairsteak butterfly. A little butterfly that spends the majority of its life in the tree tops.

White-letter hairstreak.

White-letter hairstreak.

With the ability of getting a good vantage point we were able to get good eye-level views. And even some reasonable pictures.

Juvenile common tern now fitted with leg ring.

Juvenile common tern now fitted with leg ring.

It was a delightful surprise to me on my return to Stoke Lake on June 28, to see that the common tern chicks had not only hatched but were looking almost ready to fledge.

Juvenile common tern at Stoke Lake.

Juvenile common tern at Stoke Lake.

With one juvenile looking very sturdy as it made an occasional tour of the lake, then returning to the raft.

With both chicks now wearing rings on their right legs, fitted by our local registered bird ringer, for their future identification, it’s almost time to wave them goodbye.

Mating ritual of two small tortoiseshell butterflies.

Mating ritual of two small tortoiseshell butterflies.

Along the the boardwalk by Stoke lake I witnessed what seemed to be the mating ritual of two small tortoiseshell butterflies.

Reed bunting calling by the boardwalk.

Male reed bunting calling by the boardwalk.

Also seen there were several male reed buntings calling from the sallows.

Female reed bunting collecting food for its young.

Female reed bunting collecting food for its young.

While a female reed bunting could be seen collecting food for its young.

Sedge warbler near boardwalk at Stoke Nature Reserve.

Sedge warbler near boardwalk at Stoke Nature Reserve.

Along with a sedge warbler near by.

Greenfinch by Stoke Lake.

Greenfinch by Stoke Lake.

And a greenfinch sang out its twittering and wheezing song from it’ treetop perch.

Roe Deer near Stoke Lock.

Roe Deer near Stoke Lock.

Ending the afternoon was a surprise sighting from the towpath by Stoke Lock of a roe deer, out in the open and quite close by, in the flooded field area close to the river.

A recent view across Stoke Lake.

A recent view across Stoke Lake.

Last, but far from least, on a personal note, I would like to thank my close friends and family for their wonderful support, as well as kindness shown during my recent times of ill health.

A new addition to our family, far more cherished than any of my camera lenses.

A new addition to our family, far more cherished than any of my camera lenses.

And after my wife joking in my last report about carrying my camera lens, “like a baby in my arms…”, warm congratulations to my daughter-in-law and son on the arrival of our first grandchild, Finley.

On this roller coaster of life we all live.

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test 4 Responses to Birdwatcher’s Diary No.90

  1. Harry Eve Reply

    July 6, 2015 at 9:50 pm

    I think the chafer was a particularly good find – perhaps they are local to your area.

    The purple emperor was late emerging this year. I saw my first of the year on 1st July (the very hot day) in Bernwood Forest and watched two flying high around their “Master Tree” clearing today (6th July) in the Horsleys.

    I have been looking, without success so far this year, for a white-letter Hairstreak so thank you, again, for sharing your wonderful photos with us.

  2. Malcolm Fincham Reply

    July 6, 2015 at 11:34 pm

    I would like to thank Harry Eve for his inspiring comments and pleased to hear of his fortune with a purple emperor sighting.

    Indeed, they do seem to be late emerging this year, having seen one high in a tree yesterday (July 5).

    I did have my first one come to the ground this morning (July 6). And although a bit shaky with my photography of late, I did managed some reasonable pictures that I hope to show in my next report.

  3. Steve Balchin Reply

    July 11, 2015 at 4:48 pm

    Wonderful photos as always and a great variety of butterflies.

    Also very pleasing to hear of a new addition to your family. Hope you continue to feel better “Grandad”!

    Malcolm, I am sure all of us at The Dragon and all your readers would want to join Steve in congratulating you. Ed

  4. Claire Sharpe Reply

    July 21, 2015 at 11:33 pm

    Malcolm, Wonderful photos and lovely news of your grandson. Wishing you a speedy recovery.

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