Monday, 31 May 2010

Flitters, Flutters and Stop-Start Sprinters!

The very warm weather which many of us in the UK experienced a week or so ago was nice while it lasted but it certainly didn't last long! We had some persistent rain here in the last couple of days but it hasn't had much impact on the very dry ground especially as there have been some blustery winds which have dried things out considerably. However, at the moment everything still looks beautifully green and fresh.

'The old hills that for a mans lifetime hath stood
Unmolested mid brushes and burrs
The worn ways leading along to the wood
And the rabbit tracks into the furze....

Though simple to some I delight in the sight
Of such objects that bring unto me
A picture of picturesque joy and delight
Where beauty and harmony be.'
(John Clare)


I haven't yet seen as many different varieties of butterflies as I would have expected but during the very warm weather, while enjoying a walk close to home, there were lots of Speckled Woods about.

Speckled Wood Butterfly

I also saw this white butterfly taking nectar from a Herb Robert flower. I'm not too good at identifying whites, I don't think it is either the Small White or Large White and it doesn't look like the Green Veined White which I photographed last year. I'm pretty sure I have seen and photographed it before but by the time Summer has gone and we are into a new year I have forgotten what I learnt the year before :( therefore, I am going to leave it to those more expert than myself!

Green-veined White Butterfly (probably male)

(Thank you very much to Greenie. for the ID)

This little Fat-legged Beetle was gleaming in the sunshine on a Buttercup. It is so called because the male of the species has swollen looking femora (thighs). Other names are Thick-legged Beetle and Flower Beetle.

Fat-legged Beetle (Oedemera nobilis) (male)

This little beauty gave me the run-around, flitting from bush to bush, it was very difficult to 'pin down' and this was the best I could do before it took off again. It looked much blacker than the photo shows. I am assuming it is a Damselfly (although it almost seemed too small) but I haven't been able to identify which one possibly because it may be immature, I'm sure someone will know :)

Beautiful Demoiselle (female)

As I said, I knew 'someone' would know and of course he did!
Thanks again to Greenie :)

Back on safer ground now, during the same walk, there is no mistaking what is probably Britain's favourite bird, I photographed this one singing its heart out which gladdened mine immeasurably.


'Oh! for a strain as gladsome and free—
Oh! for a voice of such melody—
Oh ! for the spirit-like flow of song,
Heard for a moment, remembered long.'
(Henry Righton)


All of the following photos were taken during recent visits to Draycote, the light conditions were not always favourable and some of the birds were a very long way away. Whenever we go there we are usually guaranteed to see Pied Wagtails flitting around, searching for insects and landing momentarily on the rocks.

Pied Wagtail

On a visit in April, I spotted, in the top of a tree what I assumed to be a Yellow Wagtail. In my experience it is unusual to see a wagtail in a tree and I took some very poor photos which on careful examination showed that I had found the Blue-headed Wagtail which had been seen there at that time! Unfortunately they were much too poor to show but nevertheless I was pleased to have seen it. Getting back to more recent visits to Draycote I was happy to see my first Yellow Wagtails of the year. This is sadly another bird on the red list of endangered species in the UK!

Yellow Wagtail

It was also nice to see these Ringed Plovers, there were two, each standing completely still, apart from constantly turning their heads. In common with some other birds including other plovers these attractive little birds will defend their nests and young against predators by feigning a broken wing, calling and leading intruders away from the nest, once the potential threat is far enough away the plover will fly off. When hunting for food they employ a stop-start, run and pause technique.

Ringed Plover

'They sprint eight feet and -
stop. Like that. They
sprintayard (like that) and
They have no acceleration
and no brakes.
Top speed's their only one.'
(Norman MacCaig)

This lovely Great Crested grebe was quite close to me for a change, what elegant, graceful looking birds they are, even when dripping wet after diving for food!

Great Crested Grebe

These two were much further away and I hoped they were going to perform their beautiful 'weed dance' but unfortunately after some initial overtures it fizzled out.

As well as water birds there is always lots of birdsong coming from the trees and hedgerows at Draycote and this Dunnock was enjoying some sunshine


and so was this very smart looking Great Tit.

Great Tit

This next photo is especially for someone who is not feeling too well at the moment as I know it is his favourite bird. I hope it may help to cheer you up a little, Keith :)


'Oh! beautiful bird in thy stately pride,
Thou wast made in a waste of flowers to hide,
And to fling to the sun the glorious hues
Of thy rainbow-gold, thy green and blues!
Yes, beautiful pheasant, the birch-wood bowers,
Rich many-formed leaves, bright tinted flowers,
Broad masses of shade, and the sunshine free,
In thy gorgeous beauty are meet for thee!'
(Mary Howitt)


Wherever I go at the moment there seem to be lots and lots of Rabbits which is not surprising considering that it has been estimated that in five years a single pair could have around a million descendants were it not for the many mishaps to which rabbits are exposed!


I was very pleased to get photos of two birds I have never managed to capture before, the first was a Kestrel which was a long way away from me and the light wasn't good but here it is anyway.


And finally my first captures of a Green Woodpecker. Again it was a very long way away and I scrambled down a rather steep bank to try and get closer, needless to say I soon spooked it and it was off and away all too quickly!

Green Woodpecker

'Hark! heard ye that laughter so loud and so long? -
Again now! - it drowneth the wood-linnet's song!
'T is the woodpecker laughing! - the comical elf!
His soul must be merry to laugh to himself! -
And now we are nearer - speak low - be not heard!
Though he's merry at heart, he's a shy, timid bird ...

... soon as a footstep that's human is heard,
A quick terror springs to the heart of the bird!
For man, the oppressor and tyrant, has made
The free harmless dwellers of nature afraid! ...

And then, when we're up at the end of the lane,
We shall hear the old woodpecker laughing again.'
(Mary Howitt)

Have a wonderful, Nature filled week wherever you are.


  1. i do like yellow wagtails!

  2. Wow, I am intrigued and amazed by how much you see and how much you know! Dan

  3. ShySongbird ,
    I'm afraid you talked yourself out of the butterfly being a Green-veined White , but that is what it is , most probably a male . Look at the dark veins on underwing and less prominent on topwing .
    You did the same with the damselfly , a Demoiselle and from the brownish suffusion in the wing , a female Beautiful Demoiselle .
    Maybe no weed , but still a very nice GCGrebe pair shot .
    Well done with the male Kestrel and Green Woodpecker .
    Enjoyed the post very much .

  4. Jan, your posts always cheer my heart and make me so proud to live in this beautiful country of ours.

    I am no expert, but I thought the white may be a 'green veined white' It looks very similar to me.

    The damselfly is so pretty.....can't identify it for you but I love the photograph Jan......beautiful capture.

    Pheasant, never tire of them, they are such stunning birds. Greenie is a particular favourite of mine, love his call, always makes me chuckle.....

    Have a good week Jan......

  5. A lovely post, as always. The Yellow Wagtail is stunning. I have yet to see one.

  6. Great job getting your 2 new birds! I really like the shot of the green woodpecker looking straight at you. Enjoyed your whole post - as usual!


  7. Hi Jan Lovely post as usual with smashing images and prose,Favourites have to be the Yellow Wag and the Green Woodpecker,as I know how difficult it is to get close to this bird only managed it once.

  8. Lovely set of photos Jan. Well done in getting two new ones to your collection.
    There do seem to be many more rabbits about this year. Last year they were hard to spot around the village but now they are everywhere.

    Love the Yellow Wagtail. Not seen one yet.

  9. Hi Jan.

    What a brilliant collection you have really done well. The John Clare verse (a poet of nature I believe) complements things superbly. The butterfly shots are really clear and well focused and with so little margin for error that is a great effort indeed. O how I envy your Green Woodpecker shot...I am still waiting to see one on the ground. I also hope Keith is feeling better but have noticed he has been away from the computer over a week now...wonder if anyone has any recent news or contact with him.

  10. Another great varied post with some super pictures Jan. I particularly like the Ringed Plover shots and the Grebe's which I think sometimes are a bit overlooked.

  11. Pete

    Thanks, Pete. So do I :)


    Thank you very much, Dan. I'm not sure I know that much but if in doubt I look it up :)


    Thank you very much. I'm sure you know how much I value your comments, Greenie and I knew you would put me right with the IDs :) I'm very good at talking myself out of things, confidence in my own abilities being a very weak point! I looked at the Green Veined White which you IDd for me last year but I think the light and position of the butterfly made it look different. As for the Beautiful Demoiselle, I started to type that in as it seemed the only likely one... then baled out :(

  12. Lovely photos Jan, so much going on around us at the moment with the birds and insects :)

    Have to admit there aren't as much flutters as I would have expected after the hot weather, my hoverflies seem to have pretty much disappeared too. Plenty of Bees though.

    How is your garden growing?

  13. Hi Songbird, you eyes are ok now then :-)

    I enjoyed reading your novel- er... post today :-) and i'm so envious of those Yellow Wag photo's!

    See ya!

  14. I always enjoy your rambles looking at birds and butterflies. I think the kestrels are the prettiest of hawks.

    We've had lots of butterflies here this spring. Hot and dry so they spend lots of time chasing each other thru my garden.

  15. A lovely post as always and some great photos. I've seen a Yellow Wagtail or a Green Woodpecker either, very nice to see those photos. A singing Robin is just the loveliest thing!

  16. At last, finally got round to viewing this (your latest update) Jan. A wonderful post it is, too.

  17. Some wonderful poetry again. Those by Mary Howitt I especially liked. I have made a note of her name and must seek out more of her work. Lovely shots to go with it as well.

    Many thanks for the comments on my blog and your visits. :-)

  18. Absolutely wonderful post there Shysongbird xxx Just love all of the butterflies, and the Wagtails are lovely!! Love the little Plover too and the Kestrel!! Wow, you really see some wonderful sights!!! Thanks for sharing xxx

  19. It's always a treat to share these nature walks with you, Songbird. Dreycote must be an amazing place with such a variety of birds. I loved the little poem with the plover:) And the grebes look like a pair of lovebirds!

    I've been enjoying watching the butterflies here, too. Last year we had so few that I'm thrilled to see they're returning in full force this summer.

    I only wish you could visit me and help me identify some of my birds:) I just realized this weekend that the birds visiting our yard so often are not blackbirds as I thought, but rather grackles.

  20. what a post chock full of wonderful images of some great finds!! That green woodpecker is so exotic looking!! You've got some lovely butterflies too!! On my travels this week Ive seen some very nice birds and today I added the horned lark to my life list..that was FUN!! Enjoy your week!! Im on the road for home and hope to arrive on Friday!

  21. Cheryl

    Thank you very much for your kind comments, Cheryl. You are right and my memory was all too short! It was confirmed by 'Greenie' (above) as being a GV White and I really should have remembered as he identified it for me last year also.
    As for the Greenie you refer to :) I was so thrilled to get those photos even though they are not perfect, I have never managed one before and they are notoriously difficult to creep up on!


    Thank you, Angie. The Yellow Wagtails were at Draycote last year also!


    Thank you very much, Wilma. I was thrilled to 'capture' the woodpecker for the first time.


    Thank you, Costas :)


    Thank you, Monty. I was so excited to get photos of the Green Woodpecker as I have seen one before but not managed a photo, it was right at the end of our visit too!

    Midmarsh John

    Thank you very much, John. It seems the hard Winter didn't harm the rabbit population :)
    The Yellow Wagtails seem to like Draycote as I saw them there last year too.

  22. The Abbot

    Thank you, Trevor, you are very kind and I very much appreciate your mention of the butterfly shots as I am not an experienced photographer at all, in fact I had not used a 'serious' camera until the last eighteen months or so. I just love trying to record the beauties of Nature that I see around me.
    I was so chuffed to get the Green Woodpecker, I just wish I could take my longer lens out with me but I just find it too heavy to hold steadily.
    I'm sure by now you will have noticed that Keith has posted again and hopefully things will improve for him soon.


    Thank you Phil, I too think the GCGs can be overlooked which is a shame as they are such elegant and interesting birds. I nearly missed the plovers as they blended so well with the rocks :)


    Thank you, Liz. Hopefully the return of the warm weather should bring us all more flutters.
    'How is your garden growing?' hmm...the answer to that is the weeds are growing well and the rest is a little neglected :(

    Warren Baker

    Thank you, Warren, so glad you enjoyed my novel :) and just a little bit glad I made you envious...not an easy feat! :):)
    It's surprising how much you can see with one good eye, a pair of bins and someone else keeping a look out too!

  23. very much enjoyed the post jan, well done on the kestrel and the woodpecker, never heard of, or even seen the flower beetle, is there not some kind of trolley that you could transport your long lens and possibly tripod as well, like you say, they are too heavy to be walking around with,look forward to your next one.

  24. Roses and Lilacs

    Thank you very much, Marnie. I agree with you, the Kestrels are very attractive. I am more used to seeing them hovering and was very struck by how much smaller it looked perched on a branch than it does when hovering.
    I would love to see all the butterflies in your garden, you have so many beautiful ones there :)


    Thank you very much, Pam. I saw Yellow Wagtails at Draycote last year also, they seem to like the place as much as I do :) I have seen a Green Woodpecker before (although,not often) but never managed to photograph one so that was the highlight of the day for me.

    Thank you very much, Dean :)

  25. Jan, lovely post again. Enjoyed the Yellow Wagtail, Kestrel, and of course, the Pheasant :) (Thanks)
    Cracking shot of the Great Crested Grebe too.

  26. Kerry

    Thank you very much, Kerry. I only discovered Mary Howitt last year but really enjoy her Nature poetry.


    Thank you very much, Karen :) Those Little Plovers were very sweet and I nearly didn't spot them! Draycote always seems to have so much to offer.


    Thank you very much, Rose, it is a pleasure to share them with you :) Yes I think it is a lovely place, always something of interest.
    You have such exotic looking butterflies there, I'm so glad they are visiting you again this year.
    I suspect I would struggle to identify your birds although I have become a lot more familiar with them since I started blogging :)

    Dixxe's Doodles

    Thank you very much, Dixxe. I must look the Horned Lark up, well done on getting a lifer :)
    I will be over to catch up with your travels very soon!

  27. This was so wonderful to come back to after an absence of blogging for a few months - your blog has improved and excelled itself. I love the poetry and mix of observation and humanity.... i'm back now in the land of blogging and will be back here again

  28. Hi Jan. Another fabulous post. Your eyes and the lens appear to be working exceptionally well. I'm jealous of the Yellow Wag and the Green Woodie but won't hold a grudge..Lol. Best wishes FAB.

  29. Dear Shy Songbird,

    I am always amazed at how much wildlife you manage to cature with photos. And your knowledge of them is quite impressive. Loved the Robin pic. There is just something about hearing a Robin that makes me smile.


  30. denzil

    Thank you very much, Denis. The little beetle can easily be missed as it is very small, only about 10mm/0.5in long!

    When you mentioned the trolley I had a vision of one of those three wheeled carriages that carried cannons in the Napoleonic wars which, considering the make of my camera, is quite apt really :) All I would need then is the red and black uniform :)

    Seriously though, I'm sure there is something available but as you imply, with the long lens it is best to use a tripod and the problem then is that I wouldn't be so likely to get 'chance' shots, such as I did with the Kestrel and woodpecker, which would probably have been gone by the time I got the tripod set up!

  31. holdingmoments

    Thank you very much, Keith. Lovely to have you back, I hope the break did you some good.
    It was nice to get a fairly close photo of a GCG for a change.
    Glad you liked 'your' Pheasant photo :) I can see why it is your favourite bird. Goodness knows why people want to shoot them :(


    Welcome back, Andrew! Thank you very much for your kind and generous comments, I had lost track of you but will be over to catch up very soon. I always enjoyed your posts :)

    The Early Birder

    Hi Frank, Thank you very much :) It will be much better (I hope) when I have had surgery on the other eye, things seem rather out of kilter with only one good eye but of course only one good eye is all that is needed for the camera :)
    I was so pleased to get my first ever photos of a Green Woodpecker!

  32. I really like the picture of the white butterfly. Of course all the photos are wonderful.

  33. If only I could have a bit of your knowledge, I’m always seeing different birds but never knowing what they are.
    I loved the robin and the rabbit picture.

    I know what you mean about having the time; your comments are always welcomed, but visit if and when you can.

    Love Lou xxx

  34. Morning Glories in Round Rock

    Dear Jenny,

    Thank you very much for your kind comments. When in doubt I have a good collection of reference books and of course there is always the internet :)

    I have heard a recording of your American Robin's song and was struck by how very different it is to that of our European Robin, in fact it seems the two birds have very little in common apart from name and the red breast. Ours is much smaller, only about five inches long!

    It is fascinating to learn about your lovely birds as well as ours.

    Have a great weekend :)

  35. Apologies ShySongbird, I must have missed this post! Once again a lovely post with fab photos to match. Well done with the Green Woodpecker, a bird I've never managed to get! I love the Grebe ones too - shame they didn't perform 'the' dance, maybe she had a headache! :-)

  36. Hi there Jan, like Sharon apologies from me too. I caught this one on my phone and thought I’d left a message. Hope you are well :-)

    I too love to see the areas where you visit and all you see there. I loved the speckled wood and the green-veined, the wagtails too. Favs this time are the plovers, a bird I had never heard of pre Springwatch. Hope you are still enjoying the show.

    Wishing you a great weekend :-D

  37. so many beautiful birds, bugs and flying things.
    love the weed dance with the water birds. it is so much fun seeing all the living creatures out and about in june.
    happy june.

  38. Cute post title. Would you laugh at what we call robins here? Yours and ours are very much different. However the pheasants are the same! :-)

    Your first butterfly looks similar to what I might call a Wood Nymph here.

    Have a great day!!

  39. oldcrow61

    Thank you very much, OC :)


    Thanks very much, Lou. I was given my first bird book when I was very small and was interested in watching them then so I have had a fair few years to learn the subject :) Mind you I don't know anywhere near as much as some people and I still find it difficult to identify a lot of the water birds!
    I hope you are having a lovely weekend. Lots of love and XXXX to you and Poppy.


    No need for apologies at all, it isn't easy to keep up with blogging as I know only too well :)
    I was thrilled to get the Green Woodpecker and suspect it will be a long time before I do again! Your 'headache' comment made me laugh :)

  40. Hi,
    What a wonderful post you got there. So many nice pictures from the rabbit to the woodpecker!!! Gorgeous! Hope the pheasant will help Keith a bit ;-)

  41. Hi Jan,

    WOW !!! Your photos are just superb, there are so many and the Butterflies and Beetle, my favourite is the pair of Great-crested Grebes, an ahhh moment.

    Thank you Jan for stunning post.

  42. shirl

    Thank you very much and no apologies needed at all in fact they are due from me for taking so long to reply!
    Yes, I very much enjoyed Springwatch but felt so sorry for the poor Little Ringed Plover, it was so sad that she lost everything after all her hard work. It occurred to me that maybe if she had sat on the eggs instead of trying to run at the Jackdaw she might have been able to save them and the same with the little one. I suppose their instinct doesn't work like that though.
    I hope you have a great weekend, my last one was spent at my nephew's wedding :)


    Thank you, Marmee. The weed dance in its entirety is really something special, so far I have only ever seen the whole thing on TV.
    Enjoy the rest of June :)

    Shady Gardener

    Thank you, Shady. Well no, I wouldn't laugh because your Robins are very handsome but they certainly are very different to ours :) Not least is the fact that yours are about twice the size of ours and the colouring and song are different too.
    Have a wonderful weekend, I hope the weather is kind to you.

  43. Chris

    Thank you very much, Chris. I think it gave Keith a smile at least.
    Glad your trip to Morocco went well apart from the airport/camera business, what a pain...we definitely can't have Chris without his camera! :)


    Thank you very much for your kind comments, John. I did think to start with that I might see the whole 'dance' but at least they provided a nice photo moment. Just a shame they weren't a bit nearer!


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