Purple Hairstreak on a Friday

Purple Hairstreak and Peacock

The last week or so I seem to have been taking photos of butterflies more than anything else. Our Buddleia has been teeming with them. Peacocks, Small Tortoiseshell, Red Admirals, Large Whites, Green Veined Whites and dozens of Painted Ladies. We have also had a few Holly Blues high up in the Hawthorn.

Click on any of the images to view them as part of their gallery.

This then got me thinking about other butterflies so on Friday afternoon I decided to go along to Shipley Glen where the Oak trees towards the top edge of Bracken Hall Crag are just at the right height to look for Purple Hairstreak butterflies from the rocks along Bracken Hall Green.

They took a little searching out; Purple Hairstreaks are small. I did see one with its wings together walking along a tiny branch but I would not have noticed it without having watched it walk off a leaf onto the branch. If they spend time under leaves or on branches then they would probably have stayed hidden from me. You are also limited to looking at a small part of the tree that is close to the rocks at the edge of Shipley Glen. Any further up in the canopy and I would have needed a good pair of binoculars to find them.

Butterfly Bush

Painted Lady

In between the rain today we have had a few butterflies on and around our Buddleia. Several Small Whites have been chasing each other, six or more Peacocks have been on the Buddleia and a couple of Painted Ladys (Ladies?)

York Birds of Prey

On 20 July 2019 I was given a lift to the York Birds of Prey Centre by a fellow member of Shipley Camera Club. Andrew, the founder of the club who was with us, had organised the trip for 10 of us.

I felt obliged to go on the trip because I was promoting wildlife photography to the camera club and several skills needed in the wild could be practiced. However I don’t think I will go to such places again and now feel that I would have made more of a case for wildlife photography by not going.

After a cup of coffee we had a wander around with our cameras. Quite a few of the birds were held on perches in front of their enclosures so we had opportunities to take some nice portraits.

During the day there were also several “demonstrations” of the birds flying. Eagle Owl, Barn Owl, Golden Eagle, Kestrel, Peregrine Falcon, Kookaburra, Red Kite and several others.

The join between the upper and lower beaks of this Kookaburra curves in a way that makes it look as though it is smiling and happy with flying.

We also had the opportunity to “hold” several of the birds.

The staff did a good job of getting people to take part

Getting photos of the birds slowly flying towards you or perched was not too difficult.

Getting photos of them flying past or, like the Peregrine, flying fast was not so easy but it was great to see them flying around so close to us all.

In some cases the treats the birds were getting seemed rather meagre to me, a chicks foot, but for all I know that could be a delicacy to an owl.

Some even sat down to get the shot they wanted.

Map showing location of York Birds of Prey Centre.

A few little creatures

Peacock butterfly

This is a few recent photos from:-

  • our garden
  • Potter Pits
  • the field between Bradford Beck and Carnegie Drive
  • and the site of the burnt out cinema on Briggate

Click on any of the images to view them in their gallery where left/right arrows let you navigate it.

The Buddleia in our garden seems to feed many insects, bees and butterflies. One of the surprises was the Southern Hawker – not something I have noticed before in our garden

The photos below were taken in Potter Pits and the field on the other side of Bradford Beck from Potter Pits. The field is currently for sale as a development opportunity. And the last few, of Cinnabar Moth caterpillars, were taken on the land that used to be the cinema, then bingo hall, on Briggate.

Great White Egret

Yesterday on facebook I saw that someone had posted a photo of a white bird that they had seen on the river Aire at Roberts Park the day before. Because of its yellow beak, the shape of its neck and apparent size I suggested that it was a Cattle Egret – this would be very surprising if I was right, we don’t get them round here and even where we do (down South) they are Winter visitors. So I went out in the rain to have a look.

I started by looking at the weir at Baildon Bridge and then walked along the Shipley side of the river bank. A Kingfisher kept coming out of the trees in front of me and flying along the river. It was seeing me before I saw it. After getting up onto the canal side between Salts Mill and New Mill I decided to head towards Roberts Park since that is where the bird had been reported. As I got towards the Victoria Road bridge I saw a couple with umbrellas walking towards me and just behind them the flutter of large white wings.

And there it was, on the canal side, partly under the bridge. Now I had got a clear sight of it I could see that It was larger than I thought, had a longer neck and was a Great White Egret. That is always assuming that it was the same bird that was reported on facebook. In the photo the larger red, cream and black boat is Are Jay Bargie and the green, cream and red boat is the narrow boat, Titus, that is used for the canal trips. The Egret seemed comfortable as the man carried on with his work of preparing the boat for the night.

The bird then flew across to the other side of the canal, still under the bridge and began slowly walking along, hunting.

It also seemed comfortable with me on the canal side taking photos of it. It seemed to ignore people as they walked past but I am sure it was well aware of them.

I watched it catch several fish, most of them a lot smaller than the one above.

Several times it came onto the same side of the canal as the path but from there could only stare down into the water. It couldn’t reach any fish.

So back to the other side of the canal it went.

At one point it came onto the canal side between Are Jay Bargie and Titus but that didn’t give it any space when people came along the canal. It then flew beyond Are Jay Bargie and onto the other side again where it continued catching fish. By this time the light was fading and the Egret was in shade on the other side so I went down to the Boathouse for a drink and to wipe my camera down before walking back to Baildon Bridge and home.

Potter Pits on Tuesday

I took my Macro lens along to Potter Pits on Tuesday.

Before going under the railway arch I heard a rather heavy train going over the bridge and saw old carriages, including several restaurant cars heading into Shipley station though I don’t think it stopped. This shot is of the tail end of it showing another big diesel engine pushing.

Before seeing much wildlife I did spot that work was being done on the cell tower next to Laura Ashley.

As expected on such a sunny day the place was buzzing with bees but one was a little more dusty than your average bee. The third shot shows the long tongue of the bee probing for nectar.

Quite a few Small Skippers were flitting around but one of the problems of watching them in such good weather is that they, and most of the butterflies, just do not stay still long enough to get a good look at them or take a photo.

Other butterflies that stayed still long enough for me to identify them were Small Tortoiseshell, Meadow Brown, Ringlet and Speckled Wood. As expected the Speckled Wood was at the South end of the field nearer the trees.

I think that the white dots on the lower underwing of this butterfly identify it as a Gatekeeper.

This plant was living up to its name – Jack-go-to-bed-at-noon. By the middle of the day its yellow flowers had been hidden; the photos were taken at 11:09. The seed head is of the same form as Dandelion and they are both part of the same massive Aster/Daisy family. It is also called meadow salsify, showy goat’s-beard or meadow goat’s-beard. (Tragopogon pratensis)

Ragwort is a member of the same Aster/Daisy family and is the preferred food of the Cinnabar Moth caterpillar.