Butterflies in the garden

A fresh looking Painted Lady turned up in our front garden today [10/09/2017] which stayed for a few minutes sunbathing on the concrete drive. Also this  Comma emerged today that I reared from a caterpillar found on the weeping elm last month. 3 Red Admirals were also on the over-ripe bananas.

Also last month a couple of female Common Blues paid us a visit [13/08/2017] – you can just see the second one in the background which had more blue on it.  The underside view confirms this is not a Brown Argus as I initially thought, which lacks the black spot clearly seen on this individual towards the base of the fore-wing.







Spotted Flycatchers, Linnets, and Goldfinches

Thursday, August 24th: As I approached the footbridge on the 1066 Path on my return to Sprays Bridge I noticed a bird flying out of the hedgerow, catching an insect then returning to the hedgerow. To my delight it was a Spotted Flycatcher. I was able to get closer to the bird & sometimes I could hear the snap of its bill as it caught an insect.

I then noticed a nondescript little bird sitting on top of a rather leafless Alder tree. At first I did not know what I was looking at. The bird was then joined by a bird with a pink breast so I realised I was looking at a pair of Linnets. All of a sudden these birds were joined by at least a dozen Goldfinches & Linnets. In the next few moments a huge flock of what I guess were a mixed flock of Linnets & Goldfinches flew up from the Knapweed in the field. I counted at least 60 birds.

I was then rewared by the arrival of a small flock of Long-tailed Tits. These delightful little birds are always such fun to watch. To add to my pleasure there were a few Willow Warbler or Chiffchaff in the hedgerow.

I then realised a bird had landed on a dead branch a few feet away from where I was standing. It was the Spotted Flycatcher. I had the most superb view of this bird. Imagine my surprise when it was joined by not one but three other Flycatchers. I was then able to watch the five birds darting out of the hedgerow catching insects. I have not seen Spotted Flycatchers for several years so to see a family was a very special occasion.



Saturday 8th July: After a long absence I went on an evening walk on the 1066 Path towards the A21. I had just climbed over the stile at Sprays Bridge when I heard the scratchy call of a Whitethroat. For the next half an hour I watched a pair of these birds catching insects & dropping down into the deep undergrowth where I assume they had a nest. The birds found insects within a few feet of the nest & they called constantly.

At the footbridge I watched Blackcap collecting insects & after a long search I saw the Chiffchaff that was calling from the big Oak Tree. There wa a Green Woodpecker in the Oak but I failed to see it. A Song Thrush was singing in the background.

On my return I again watched the Whitethroat & this time noticed Warblers deep in the Blackthorn. Whether they were Willow Warbler or Chiffchaff I could not tell.

I crossed the road & walked on the 1066 Path along Forge Stream. Gathering over the river by the logs were large numbers of Beautiful Demoiselles.

Sunday 9th July We were woken up at 5.30 am by two noisy, juvenile Green Woodpeckers. They were preening themselves in the Fir Tree outside our bedroom windows.

We have seen Warblers in the garden. Again I am not sure whether they are Chiffchaff or Willow Warbler. They are in an Olive tree & in the plants around the pond. We have noticed before that Warblers visit the garden in high summer. My husband has been trying to photograph the birds but without success.


Grass snake photos

Further to my two previous postings here are two pictures of the two snakes. Sorry about only a part of the middle body of the second snake, but just not able to get a complete shot quickly enough.


snake length bestC_0025 Brok a

snake-dark 2nd Brok a

Grass snake attack – update

As of yesterday 26th May the snake was still in the pond. This week the temperature has been in the mid-twenties and we have noticed that sighting times have always started PM and yesterday lasted until about 1800 (3 hours) when the sun went off the pond. So clearly taking advantage of the best basking times.

Interestingly, also yesterday I saw a second snake much darker in colour and I suspect hiding under one of the slabs. Might it be a breeding pair? I have a picture that might interest you but only of the middle part of the body. I wasn’t quick enough with the camera.

The first snake is at least two feet long – a female?

We have a lot of cats around – not good!


Grass snake attack!

I have said before what a very big difference even a small water feature can make in our gardens. Our pond has a considerable variety of wildlife from the gold fish which breed copiously, to frogs, newts, and at this time of the year, tadpoles.  We’ve even had one young Kingfisher!

The photo was taken at 15.00 Wednesday 17th May.  The snake has the frog by the rear legs and took about 45 minutes to ingest completely.  The snake remained in the pond and was seen again the following morning.  It was indeed nature in the raw! Snakes have visited before, how often we don’t of course know. Some years ago we used to see hedgehogs – but not for a long time now.


Grass snake with frog Brok May2017

Oak Beauty moth

March 23rd – Have just found this moth on the floor in the house. Is it a Peppered Moth? Can you identify for me please?


It’s a beauty! Actually an Oak Beauty, which is closely related to the similarly shaped Peppered Moth. You can see from the wiki photo below that Peppered lacks any brown coloration. It also emerges a few weeks later from May/June, whereas the Oak Beauty only flies from February to April.
Peppered moth wiki

Bullfinches, and spring Chiffchaff

Saturday 11th March  I went for a walk on the 1066 Path in the late afternoon – Sprays Bridge towards the A21. I saw four Bullfinches feeding in a Silver Birch tree. There were two males & two females.

When I returned I decided to wait on the footbridge near the start of the walk. Almost immediately the Bullfinches reappeared in the undergrowth. I got the most superb view of of these handsome birds. I then realised that I could hear a Chiffchaff calling behind me. There in an oak tree I saw & heard my first Chiffchaff of 2017.

Sunday 12th March  My husband & I are having breakfast. A female Blackbird is making regular trips to the Honeysuckle with her bill full of leaves. Our first evidence of nest building this year.


Fieldfares, and Redwings

Saturday 4th March – My husband & I have just been putting up nest boxes in the garden when we noticed a large flock of birds land in nearby Oak trees. The birds were Fieldfares. There must have been at least 70 birds.


Apologies to Libby for not posting sooner as I missed the email whilst I was away. We would encourage all sightings to be sent to both Dave and myself in case one of us is away.

These winter thrushes start their return journeys north in March, as do Redwings which I heard moving north in good numbers over Westfield during the evening of 12th March. This turned out to be part of a much wider Redwing movement also heard in Southsea and Rye, that was detected across all of eastern England according to this BTO report ‘Redwings at night!http://btomigrationblog.blogspot.co.uk/2017/03/redwings-at-night.html


Great Crested Newt

1/2/2017 – Look what I found on my (muddy) back doorstep tonight! The colony, wherever they are located are still around.



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