Whitethroat, Swallow & Swift

On 1st July I had a few minutes on Baildon Moor. I was looking for Snipe and Redshank but more visits are needed for those.

Whitethroat

What I did spot though was a Whitethroat in a Hawthorn bush. It kept moving and was hidden most of the time but it did show itself a couple of times.

Meadow Pipit

As expected a reasonable number of Meadow Pipit were around. You can see the distinctive long claws on this Meadow Pipit.

Swallow skimming the grass

At one point I was near several Swallows zooming around. I made a couple of attempts to get a shot of them and failed. For a few seconds they would swoop around following a similar path but even then I couldn’t get a shot. But then one of them flew low between some bushes and some grass so I pointed my camera along the path and set focus at a distance in line with a noticeable set of leaves. I only had a few seconds before another Swallow flew the same route and I took a shot when it seemed level with the “landmark”.

Airborne Swift

Higher in the air than the Swallows were several Swifts screeching away as they flitted about. There has been some concern this year about how late Swallows and Swifts arrived in the UK and there are reports of low numbers of Swifts compared to other years but I have heard them screaming in their usual areas.

Robin with food

I am including a couple of photos from my garden too. This Robin can frequently be seen flying backwards and forwards in the garden, pausing on a timber frame or the back of the garden chairs before heading into the corner of the garden. It doesn’t have much of a feast in its beak but it does mean it has young somewhere.

Mint Moth

Each time I go into the garden I have a look for Mint Moths on the Sage (success) and the Oregano. I also look for butterflies on the Buddleia but nothing spotted so far.

Landscape

And this is the sort of view you get from parts of Baildon Moor. A 150-600mm lens isn’t the normal lens for landscape though.

Shipley Butterfly Meadow

On Monday, after asking for permission, I spent some time peering into the Shipley Station Butterfly Meadow. The place was teeming with Burnet Moths.

5 Spot Burnet Moth

The most common seemed to be the 5 Spot Burnet Moth.

6 Spot Burnet Moth

6 Spot Burnet Moths were also feeding on the plentiful Knapweed.

They have long tongues to reach down into the flowers.

Many of the plant stems still had the cocoons on them and some of the moths looked as though they had only just emerged.

Mating Burnet Moths

The imperitive is then to feed, mate and lay eggs; and by the looks of it not necessarily in that order.

Mating Burnet Moths

I am making a bit of an assumption with this photo in saying that this is a 2nd male getting in on the act. Given that this is the sort of behaviour seen in many species I think I might be making a safe assumption.

It looks as though 5 and 6 Spot Burnet Moths are happy feeding next to each other.

Female Common Blue Butterfly

There is not much blue on the female Common Blue butterfly so I was quite pleased to spot this. They are tiny.

Underwing of Common Blue

The patterning on the male and female Common Blue is similar but they are slightly different colours. The male has more blue closer to the body and the female is more clearly brown and orange like this one

Gatekeeper

I also spotted a couple of other larger butterflies flitting about but I haven’t got the knack of identifying quickly moving ones but I did manage to point my camera at one of them and find that it was a Gatekeeper – at least that is what I think it is.

Several other little creatures were around – Bees and flies which I didn’t photograph. But I did take some of Harlequin Pupae, various spot Harlequins, and a little wasp(??), all of which you can see in the gallery below.

Not only was there lots of Knapweed and Birds Foot Trefoil but also Geranium and Lesser Stichwort.

I also had a look at the space between platform 5 and the carpark. I didn’t spot any more butterflies but did see several clusters of black Aphids with some of them being “milked” by Ants. You can just see a small droplet being collected by the upper ant on the left.

I then had a walk around the field on the other side of platform 4 where I was surprised at the number of dead bees on the paths.

Ringlet Butterfly

Dozens of Ringlet Butterflies were flitting about, many of them deep in the grass.

Tortoiseshell Butterfly

A few Tortoishell butterflies were also in the grass. One of them landed on the paths as can be seen in the gallery at the end of this post.

With their colouring these Small Skippers were difficult to spot.

But the star, and the one I had been hoping to spot was a Marbled White. It was the only one I saw. I will visit again in a few days to see if there are any more.

Wolf Mask

When leaving the field and going under the railway arch I was a little startled to see a wolf mask on the ground. At first glance it looked like the remains of something with a lot of teeth.

What, no wildlife?

I noticed a Mint Moth on the Sage in the garden so I fitted my macro lens to take a photo or two of it. Hence the header image. But while looking for more Mint Moths on the Oregano I thought some of the flowers looked worthy of a photo – not something I do very often.

We have quite a lot of self-seeded plants in our garden/weedery. This Toadflax is one of them.

It comes in both pink and purple varieties.

When you get close to the tiny Herb Robert flowers they look nice too.

I think one of the reasons why I don’t take that many photos of flowers is that half the time I have no idea what they are.

A Bit of June Wildlife

I have now found out why the right hand bird box in our garden was all akilter the other day.

One of the squirrels that visits our garden uses it to leap up to the next branch. I had seen a pair of Blue Tits taking food into it so there had been young. After it had been twisted I kept an eye on it to see if it was still being used. I saw no activity so when I straightened it I looked inside to see if they had been disturbed. The bottom of the box had a nice mossy and empty cup inside so I guess they all fledged.

I am pleased to see Mint Moth in our garden again, tiny with a nice bit of colour.

I have been down to Denso Marston Nature Reserve and the river a couple of times this week. One reason for going down there was to check on the outflows near the back of Charlestown Cemetery. The flow down Barnsley Beck had been a lot lower than in the past but now a channel in an underground chamber just above the Primitive Methodist Chapel on Browgate has been cleared and the flow restored. The restored flow did not help me confirm which outflow is used by the above-ground Beck water. You can read a bit about this on the Baildon Wiki here.

As expected there were lots of Damselflies on the reserve and along the river. Quite a few Banded Demoiselle could be seen flying along the river banks.

One was kind enough for me to see it land and let me take a couple of photos of it.

Next to the pond were lots of Azure Damselflies.

Several were mating, the female in this case is green. They would raise their wings to deter any other Damselflies if they were getting too close.

Large Red Damselflies were also around. The header image also shows Large Reds.

A little further up river several Grey Wagtails could be heard. I spotted this one across the other side of the river with its beak full of “tasty” flies. It leapt into the air a couple of times to catch more. I kept my eye on it for a while wondering where its young was.

I then saw it fly across to my side of the river where it walked up and down. Even though I kept still and was partly hidden by trees it seemed to be keeping an eye on me and was not taking the flies to its chicks. I therefore walked down river away from it and saw it eventually fly up to where its nest must have been.

2019 Celebration Day

There were several local things going on on Saturday. Both last year and this year I went to the Denso Marston Nature Reserve Celebration Day.

Last year I stayed down on the reserve after the Celebration Day had finished and got some nice wildlife shots. This year it was raining so I headed back home at the end but during the afternoon I did take a few photos.

I was also trying to pass on some of my photography knowledge to two fellow members of Shipley Camera Club.

A licensed bird ringer had set up a couple of nets and was showing people bird ringing. This Male Bullfinch looks none the worse for just having been in a cloth bag and then had a ring put on its leg.

Blue Tits and Great Tits had also been caught in the mist net and got their details recorded.

As expected pond dipping was one of the attractions with several knowledgeable people there to help.

Various creatures were scooped out of the water. Hopefully I will provide IDs for them all in due course.

People from Bracken Hall Countryside Centre had a stall and plants were a subject of conversation.

One sharp eyed person spotted this gall growing on a nettle.

The rain didn’t seem to stop people enjoying the day. Richard and Fiona had information about the Rights of Way in and around Baildon.

Joe Ashton, Baildon Town Council chair, came down with Jo Pike, a prospective parliamentary candidate, after having spent some time up at the Baildon Community Link Fun Day.

Manual settings

I have had a bit of a re-think about using my camera on program mode. On many of my trips out I have the Sigma 150-600mm lens on and my camera seems happy to try to use what I would consider slow shutter speeds. On my recent outing to RSPB Bempton Cliffs, for some of the time, I decided to set the shutter to 1/500s and aperture to f:8.0 or 1/250s at f:11 and let the camera choose the ISO for exposure. With my previous cameras I would probably not do this because the quality at higher ISO was poor.

With the photo above the camera selected ISO100 which is the slowest it goes. If the sun had been any brighter the image would have been over-exposed. This means that in future I need to keep an eye on the exposure guide or I need to have another re-think.

I can set a minimum shutter speed for the camera which involves going into the menus but when I am shooting at 17mm it is silly to limit to 1/500s or faster. Perhaps this is another use for the custom settings on my camera? Or perhaps I simply need to get into the habit of using partial manual settings.

You can see other photos from my trip here.