Sunday, 31 August 2008

......Sunday Morning

After falling asleep in front of the goggle box last night I did get to a proper bed, but still awoke early this morning. I didn't put my moth traps on last night, I've decided on a couple of days break from counting Large Yellow Underwings!

I arrived at the monument and watch the sun as it rose over the sea. Fingers crossed for some good birds, but already feeling good about the beautiful morning, and for once no gale force winds.

As the sun came up I wandered round the paddock and found one bush "heaving" with birds, well compared to most recently it was! There were about five Willow Warblers and four Long-tailed Tits and a larger Warbler. Of course this turned out to be a Lesser Whitethroat and not a mega. From the paddock I wandered down the Droveway, where I heard a couple more Willow Warblers, and through the farm.

As expected a Whinchat was on the fence when I reached the Freedown. I saw one more in this stretch, but no Wheatears.

I noticed this spider and web and watched a strange little drama unfold. My attention was drawn to something struggling at the bottom of the web.

Caught among the threads was a grasshopper. It struggled a while before the spider came down the web towards it. Normally a spider reacts quickly when an item of prey is trapped, but this one seemed very reluctant to move, and when it did get there it stayed only briefly before retreating back to the middle of the web.

The grasshopper was left alone and slowly it got itself free, leaving the spider with a big repair job to do. Perhaps it was too big or too well armoured to become a menu item.

I met Jack, Phil and Brendan along the cliff top and we walked on to Hope Point and beyond. Butterflies were more numerous today, or rather they were easier to see in the calm, warm conditions. This pair of Common Blues was mating. The female will lay its eggs on the leaves of Birdsfoot Trefoil. Caterpillars hibernate among the leaf litter when quite small and then pupate in the spring to produce the first generation of adults in late May and June the following year.

As we walked back from Kingsdown Lees we had good views of a Common Buzzard as it circled on a thermal. It got pretty high and drifted out over the sea only to return over the land and loose height as it flew back inland. We also had a Crossbill fly over calling.

There were a good number of Swallows moving through, although overall the number of birds was disappointing.


richard bartlett said...

Hi Tony,

I'm a regular reader of your very enjoyable blog, especially interested in the moths you're catching. I think the grasshopper that you photographed is actually a female Long-winged Conehead, a species of cricket.

Keep up the good work!


Tony Morris said...

Thanks Richard,
I looked at it yesterday and realised it was a Cricket sp. but thought if I didn't say anything no one would notice! Just shows how wrong you can be and how observant and knowledgeable you guys out there are.