I have been to Ben Rhydding Gravel Pits again – Saturday & Sunday, with camera of course.
On these two trips there seemed to be more butterflies and moths around than on my first visit. The Large Whites seemed the most common but they were always flying, hence no photo of one. One of the first settled butterflies I saw was a very grey looking Small Tortoiseshell. Do they get grey with age? The others I saw, including the pair on a fence on the path across the fields to Ben Rhydding, were much fresher looking. The Red Admiral and Comma were also fresh looking.
I spent some more time listening and looking for birds on these two visits and was pleased to get some photos of juvenile and adult Chiffchaff (header image). Keeping my eyes and ears open meant I got sight of two Cormorant flying over, but only one in the frame, a small flock of Curlew and two Little Egret, again, only one in the frame. I watched Sand Martin and Swallows flying about along the river and when one went into a nest hole in the river bank I waited, with camera at the ready, for it to come out. The House Sparrows were spotted in a garden on Wheatley Lane after my walk through the fields up to Ben Rhydding station.
The warm weather on parts of Saturday favoured insects. There seemed to be many more Damselflies around. This one is an Azure Damselfly. A couple of Brown Hawkers were flying back and forth over the water of the pond. Many Grasshopper could be heard stridulating in the lawns. Several varieties of Bees were feeding on the flowers and spiders could be seen running purposefully across the lawn.
My main interest is birds and butterflies but I also enjoyed taking photos of the wide variety of plants and flowers. Some of the flowers were tiny, like the Mouse-ear Chick weed and the Eyebright. I still need an ID for one of the plants in the small wired off triangular area. Some of the other IDs are best guesses so if anyone knows better please let me know.
Other things spotted were a tiny Toad trying to hide in the grass, a fungus and a ground covering Lichen neither of which have I identified. By coming into the lawn areas quietly and slowly I was able to get some photos of Rabbits. The black Rabbit was in a field with cows across the road from the reserve, on the way to Ben Rhydding station. It was a lot more relaxed about me being seen than the wild ones in the reserve. The lampost on Cheltenham Avenue is an interesting mixture of an old cast lampost and a modern LED light fitting.
Click on the images to see better quality versions.