Thursday, 28 October 2010

cotwolds holiday-day 5

We went home today. I was hopeing for a wildlife filled last day but my dreams were shattered. We went to a national trust property outside of Stratford-Upon-Avon. It had a big house and a deer park which meant that there might be birds such as pheasant and partridge. And perhaps mipit and skylark too ,although its a bit late for them.

there was also a pond which is where I went first to see what was there. Besides the shellduck there was nothing. I haddent realised but my shutter-speed was still quite low after yesterday, and so most of my potential shellduck shots were no good.

And as I said there was a deer park and so naturally there were deer there too, including one that was very tame.

sadly as I said there was nothing really see, although at one point a kingfisher came rocketing past, probably heading to more productive areas. there were also two dapchicks on the river, although they did not stick around for a photo.

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

cotswolds holiday-day 4 weather and wildlife

today we decided to go to an arboretum for the day. to be honest, it was a rather small plot of land, probably about 1 acre but the area actually used for keeping trees was about, 100m square. there were lots of ponds, fenced off and heavily surrounded by weeds plus a woodland. Over the woodland I spotted a sparrowhawk being mobbed by magpies (magpies not featured below-how ironic!!)

This went on for quite a while but I also saw a jay flying between the trees. The rest of the walk passed uneventful until I reached the spot directly below where the sparrowhawk saga had occurred where I found a flock of long-tailed tits with some goldfinches. The tits stayed around for a photo but they are rather rubbish.

Then I found some ladybirds hibernating in a thistle which I though was rather cute
I managed to get lost on a farmers Field. I eventually made my way back to car via the out of bounds greenhouses. However all was not in vain as I saw a jay fly past, pretty close too, carrying an acorn, which was nice.
After that rubbish morning, we decided to go to a national trust house which had a bigish garden. and hooray we saw some wildlife. first things first we went into the grounds to look for some conkers for my dad, but I got distracted by ladybirds that were hibernating between the fence-posts. some of them had loads of ladybirds but some only had three. Shock, gasp, horror! all were seven spotted

But on the nearby stonework... (que dramatic music)

After our little foray we decided to go back to car to have lunch. whilst eating I swore I saw a very large (as in very very large) bee fly past.

As I got out of the car after lunch I noticed on the ground that there was a fossil. it was actually a gryphea dilatata which is a type of prehistoric seashell, nicknamed devils toenail. I already had several of these but it was surprising to find them in gravel for a car park. And it was not alone. I found loads of gryphea plus a belemnites and some tubeworms which was very nice. I spent about 1 hour sifting through the car park gravel and finding stuff. overall I found
2-tube worms (I collected two because I was unsure if they were not concrete, but there were quite a few)

back inside the gardens my brother said that he had found one of the large bees rested on some garden canes and said he would take me to them. It was quite a monster. I am very sure that this is a hornet but it is hard to describe. The garden canes were about the thickness of a 10 pence piece and so if you are looking at the pictures and thinking "my garden canes are only about the size of a 5 pence, the hornet isn't that big" the garden canes are scaled up! I got some pretty decent record shots but wherever I moved it would follow me. Its eyesight was magnificent. I would creep below the pile of canes and pop up at the other side and it would be there, looking at me still. eventually I must have gone too far and it flew off. But what a beast!!

look at the photos below. First look at its monstrous jaws. If I was on the receiving end of that I would be very afraid. What a beast!!

The my brother and I went down to the lake to catch up with my mum and dad. My dad said that he Had seen a dragonfly (hawker) flying about and he was right. Speaking of the devil and it appeared from over the reeds. Whats funny was that it was obviously a very healthy animal, in its prime. Its colors were vivid, it was flying around, just like summer, except in autumn. sadly it decided not to stay still for a photo and drifted off into some trees after about half and hour of chasing.

Then I spotted a pair of darters flying over the lake mating. The quick shot I got showed them very dark, black but I imagine that that was because of the back light and that they were common darters really.

Away from the lake we did find a black darter, or rather a darter that was black for in fact this is a very old common darter. you could tell it was very old by its none response to my getting close to it to take photos. It did fly off once, but only about 1m up into a topiary tree. Its sad to see the creature in this way but still, it allows you appreciate the change in the animal as it ages.

More walking round the place and I came to an orchard at the top of the park. As I arrived I spooked large numbers of thrushes out of a yew tree. I waited hidden for the rest of the day, expecting their return, but no matter what i did, either the birds used the opposite side of the tree to me, no matter which side I was at, or somebody spooked them. It was a lost battle and I only managed two remotely acceptable shots of a redwing. It is very sad.

by far the most wildlife filled day of the holiday and a thoroughly enjoyable one

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

cotswolds holiday-day 3

It rained
It rained in style and didn't stop raining, all day.
And, as a direct result of this, we decided to check out the Stratford butterfly farm to see what it was like. It was great, such a variety of butterfly's! there was however one major downside, that you couldn't collect the dead ones. Morons! what do they want with dead butterfly's. I'll bet they don't make boxes and stick pins through them!!!! Still, rant over there were some pretty impressive butterfly's, including one of my favourites; the zebra longwing. Another rather annoying catch was the poor light in the building which meant that I couldn't really take the photos I wanted. But the butterfly's I saw are listed below, and I checked the species types with an official card so they are right!!

greta oto


the Flame

Dryas julia

zebra longwing

heliconius charitonius

jay tailed butterfly

Graphium agamemnon


parthenos sylvia


siproeta stelenes

the postman

heliconius melpomene

Hecales longwing

Heliconius hecale


hamadryas amphinome

indian leaf (underside)

kallima paralekta

jay tailed butterfly

Graphium agamemnon

plain tiger

danaus chrysippus


siproeta stelenes


emerald swallowtail

papilio palinurus

they even had some (carefully chosen) birds within the houses, top some sunbird and the bottom will be a familiar bird to most london residents-ring necked parakeet

zebra longwing

Heliconius charitonius

zebra longwing
Heliconius charitonius

plain tiger

Danaus chrysippus



Dryas julia

owl butterfly

caligo beltrao


Ismenius longwing

heliconius hecale

eastern rosella

Indian leaf (upperside)

kallima paralekta

tree nymph

idea leuconoe

quail X (although probably a Chinese button quail)

did not do anything besides this all day, although we did a bit of shopping in Stratford. Saw the house where Shakespeare was born but besides that there was nothing!