A Crow Family

On Thursday I kept hearing slightly different noises outside and eventually went out to see what was going on. I should have gone out earlier.

A Crow family were hopping about the rooftops. When I went out they flew down to the road. The header image shows one of the juveniles trying to hide what is going on from its sibling.

The adult is feeding one of them and the first shot shows its nictitating membrane across its eye, probably to protect it if it gets poked by junior’s beak. The last shot shows the other juvenile with what could be food in its beak. Did it pinch it from the other?

Shipley Station Butterfly Meadow

On Wednesday I went out to Shipley Station Butterfly Meadow and a few minutes in Potter’s Pits. Both places seemed to be very quiet but I did take a couple of photos. The header image is of a Cinnabar Moth pupa on a grass stalk. A dark leaf hopper can also be seen at the bottom of the pupa.

This Ladybird was running along grass stalks quicker than I have ever seen before. It paused for a split second at the top of this stalk before flying off.

I did spot a couple of Cinnabar Moths flying about but I did not see where/if they settled. At Potter Pits I also spotted a tiny pale blue butterfly and several Speckled Woods. However the heat meant that I did not want to be out in the open for very long.

Day 143 in our Garden

Day 103 in our Garden was the last blog post in the Day in Our Garden series. I had tried to create a blog post each day for the series but around the time of that blog post was when I had ventured outside the garden for the first time for a few weeks. If you have been following my blog you will have seen that I have now been out and about a few times – Baildon Moor, Denso Marston Nature Reserve, Ben Rhydding Gravel Pits, Dalton Bank Nature Reserve, Shipley Glen, Potter Pits, Yeadon Tarn, Fish Pass at Robert’s Park. However not much has changed since Day 1 which is why I have continued with the format of the title. All trips out have been ones were I felt comfortable that I would be able to maintain my idea of sensible social distancing. From those experiences though I will not be visiting Yeadon Tarn or walking along the river bank near Charlestown for quite a while. At Yeadon, for some reason, people were happy to walk along side by side taking up the full width of the path even when passing others. And along the river in Charletown the slopes or plants and bushes along the narrow paths meant that passing people safely was difficult and needed quite a bit of back tracking. Ben Rhydding Gravel Pits has paths but quite frequent side paths so it is quite easy to maintain safe distances. Also there are signs suggesting that people walk around the reserve in a clockwise direction which reduces the chance of having to pass people.

Since March 13th the only shopping I have done has been at garden centres with plenty of space to move around in.

One of the things that has prompted this blog post from our garden is the variety in the Violas we have. Most plants, like the Clamatis, will produce many flowers but they are all almost identical. The Violas are similar shapes but the colours and shading varies surprisingly.

The Clematis Viticella Purpura plena elegans is another reason for this blog post. The spread of the plant through the rose, honeysuckle and hawthorn is amazing. Another Clematis Viticella, a pale one, has recently been flowering and has quite a spread but is not as profuse as the purple one. The Cadfael Rose is still blooming even though I accidentally gave it a drastic pruning earlier in the year. The Thistle is not the sort of plant I want much of and is really long overdue being pulled out. The Sow Thistle was pulled out soon after it showed itself.

The Rosa Bonica has featured in several post of the series and is still going strong. It has lots of flower buds on it still. We have cut quite a few Sweetpeas for the house and they are still going strong. Self seeded Nasurtiums in the vegetable plot are looking pretty.

Apparently, when out on one of my reserve visits, I missed our patio being covered in ants, many of them with wings. By the time I had got back most of them had gone but I did get this photo of a small group of them. Many of the flower heads on our Buddleia have turned brown but the purple ones that remain are still attracting butterflies.

Click on an image to see it within its gallery and then scroll down to see the “view full size” link.

This is the index to the Days in our garden series.

A Couple of Hours at the Gravel Pits

On Monday afternoon I went along to Ben Rhydding Gravel Pits Nature Reserve. Fortunately there are plenty of trees there to provide cooling shade because I found it extremely hot on a few occasions where I was in the full sun watching the wildlife. I was able to go under the trees to cool off.

The star of the visit was a Brimstone that showed itself nicely. Taking these photos was one of the times I overheated and had to get some shade. The sun on my back was hot.

A Comma Butterfly in the same area was another that behaved itself as I took a photo of it.

Again in the same area I found this Cinnabar Moth caterpillar near the top of some Ragwort.

I don’t know the names of the areas of the nature reserve but at the bench in the reserve that is furthest down river was occupied so I had to stop to one side and look out over the river and the fields beyond. Because of the high banks and the lie of the land you can only see small patches of land but you can see the trees in the distance, several hundred metres away. I spotted a Grey Heron flying near the trees that then landed in a dead tree just in front of some other trees. Because of the levels I was looking through the grass on the river bank so it was difficult to see but it became apparent that another Heron was on the same branch. Trying to hold everything as still as possible I was sure that I saw the brown shape at the top of the right hand branch move slightly. I did my best to get a photo of it hoping that I would be able to zoom in on my computer screen and have a look. I then continued on my walk around the reserve. I often do two or three laps of the place and on my second time around the bench was no longer occupied so I stood on it and had another look at the distant tree. This time there was only one Grey Heron. The brown shape on the right hand branch was no longer there. I took some photos, again hoping that I would be able to see more on a computer screen. In the second photo you can see that there is a Red Kite below the Heron and it looks like it is looking in my direction. It is a reasonable bet that this was the brown shape on the right hand branch earlier. Also in the second photo you can see a Magpie in the tree where the branches join the trunk. In the third photo the Magpie has moved up the tree and the other two birds are looking in its direction.

Purple Hairstreak and others at Shipley Glen

On Friday I went up to Shipley Glen twice. The main reason was to look for more Purple Hairstreak butterflies but of course any visit to Shipley Glen is worth it.

Click on an image to see a higher quality version.

I’ll start with the photos of Purple Hairstreak butterflies with one of them shown in the header image. They occupy the tops of Oak trees so the rocks around Bracken Hall Green, that are on the edge of the slope down to Loadpit Beck, are a good place to see them. You can look at the tops of the Oak trees and so, with a bit of luck, see the butterflies. Even though you might see them fly around the tree and think you saw where they landed they are still difficult to spot. Patience is the key – and binoculars. The first three photos above are simply of Purple Hairstreak on Oak leaves. The next two show that Oak trees are valuable for the variety of wildlife they support. The first of the two shows quite a large Weevil of some kind near the acorns on the right. The second shows an insect on the leaf top right.

Oak trees not only support things crawling about their leaves and branches but these two photos show that in various ways they support the lifecycles of other things.

During the morning visit to Shipley Glen I could here the screech of Buzzard on several occasions and managed to get a few shots as they flew around. I am not sure if it was an adult pair and juvenile but the shading of the underwing of one of them was slightly different. I also managed to get a couple of photos of a Speckled Wood butterfly. I normally expect to see these down in Shipley Glen where they fly up off the paths as you walk along. I could also hear Grasshopper further over in the grass so I was a little surprised when this one jumped out of the grass around a rock and obligingly stayed on the rock for me to take its photo. At the start of the afternoon visit a Red Kite flew over and though I enjoyed watching and listening there was nothing else that I took photos of.

I have been keeping my eye on the Sage in our garden in the hope of seeing Mint moths. They have shown themselves a couple of times this year and late afternoon I saw something small fly into the Sage. It has the same shape as a Mint moth but certainly not the colour so I don’t know what it is. When I say it has the same shape as a Mint moth I guess I am only saying it is sort of triangular with a bit sicking out the front so might be somewhere near the same family. Edit: Thanks to allthingsmothy for an ID of a Twenty-plume Moth (Alucita hexadactyla)

Shipley Glen

I spent a few minutes up at Shipley Glen today with my camera. Actually I spent quite a few minutes up at Shipley Glen but a fair number were spent in the car waiting for the rain to stop. I could see the blue sky beyond the rain clouds but they were moving slowly.

The reason for going up there was that I had seen Purple Hairstreak at Dalton Park Nature Reserve on Monday so I was wondering if they were also at Shipley Glen. As you can see, they were.

Shipley Glen, in a similar way to Dalton Park Nature Reserve is a good place to see them because the ground level of Bracken Hall Green is close to the top of some of the close Oak trees. The butterflies are small and inhabit the Oak tree upper canopy and so are difficult to see from the bottom of the trees. I spotted some early on in my visit and got some photos. Then the rain came. I waited out the rain but after I only managed to spot 4 or 5 flitting around some of the leaves in trees too far too many feet away to get photos – as I said, they are small.

I will try again soon when there is more sunshine, perhaps this Friday.