Tuesday, 4 September 2012

When War broke out

September 3rd, is a notable day, both historically and family-wise. It's the day WW2 started and also the day two of my children got married! Also the date of Richard the Lionheart's Crowning and today the setting of the moon, with the death of Sun Myung Moon, founder of the moonies. Other than that it was a perfect early September day, misty in the morning and bright and sunny this afternoon.

Walking down from the monument towards Hope Point, the foot path is bordered by the tall seed heads of Wild Carrot and other Umbells. At this time of year it is the perfect perching place for many of the migrants that arrive along the cliffs. Today several Willow Warblers were flicking in and out of the bushes to feed along the track side.

Near Hope Point I found a very cooperative Whinchat. It was a bird of the year on its way to its wintering quarters in sub-Saharan Africa in scrub and savanna type grassland.

When I started bird  watching it, and the other chats, wheatears and robins were considered to be in the Thrush family, and they were still there when vol 10 of the Handbook of Birds of the World arrived. Since then they've been transferred to the family of Old World Flycatchers, I guess it keeps the taxonomists and publishers employed. Whatever he is this Whinchat is an attractive visitor to the cliff top.

For some time I've be getting a few, and sometimes a good few (max 43) Silver Y's in my moth traps.Today along the cliff top there were hundreds, nectaring like small Humming-bird Hawk-moths on most of the flowers available. I'm used to seeing these flying in the day time, but was I was surprised to see them joined at one bush by several very active Vine's Rustics.

I was pleased to find a pristine Brimstone Butterfly among the Sliver Y's. The Brimstone is one of the longest lived butterflies as it over-winters, hibernating as an adult. It is often the first butterfly to be seen in the spring,  and I once saw one on January 3rd in Norfolk on a rare warm sunny day. It is sometimes said that this butterfly which gave us the word butterfly, a corruption of butter-coloured fly.

The eggs are laid on the leaves of either Common Buckthorn or Alder Buckthorn  – the only two food plants – and females will wander far and wide in search for these particular shrubs. Upon emerging from the pupae, Brimstone butterflies spend the summer feeding on nectar to build up energy reserves for the winter and by the end of August they are already beginning their long sleep. They seek out evergreen scrubs, a favourite being dense, old ivy growth. The brimstone usually hides until early spring, although a warm January day will occasionally wake an eager male. There is only one brood a year.

Walking back I could hear several Willow Warblers in the scrub at Hope Point. The juveniles can look very yellow at this time of year. I did see a splendid Slow-Worm cross the path, but too quick for a picture. They are definitely one of my favourite animals.

And this time of year is straw baling time. Moving the bales around like this looks good fun. I'm sure some sort of Olympic event could be devised to test the skills of the tractor drivers. I'd certainly like a go!

Back at the Monument a couple of Wheatears were feeding on the shorter grass, moving on to higher perches when disturbed by our continental friends that seem to make this car park their first and last stops when travelling be ferry across the Channel.

1 comment:

ZielonaMila said...

Beautiful photographs, birds are looking fantastically. I am greeting