Friday, 21 May 2010

Insect nation

Yesterday I had a lovely afternoon walk along a stretch of the Medway near Tonbridge, with Sue. The weather was a bit overcast but it was warm enough to have encouraged a few damsels and butterflies to take to the air. There were some birds about which I failed to photograph, including numerous Whitethroats, Sedge Warbler, Reed Bunting, Yellowhammer and a very distant flyby Egyptian Goose (actually I did photograph the goose but it looks like a speck of sensor dust so I'm keeping those images to myself).

This was the first - a female Banded Demoiselle, brand new and respendent. We saw about a dozen Bandeds in all, far fewer than on a similar walk last year, a couple of weeks later.

Anyone out there good on cranefly ID? Sue was not impressed when I pointed the camera at this little monster but I thought it was quite smart with its bright green eyes.

Here's Mr Banded Demoiselle. It was not really a day for being out on the pull, more for mooching in the dense vegetation, but before long the male Bandeds will be spending their days hanging around at the water's edge, flashing their wings at each other and the girls, in a courtship frenzy. I'll try to come back next week or sometime and get some pics of them 'in cop'.

Not sure when I've ever seen such a fine display of Dandelion clocks. In places they formed a great fluffy carpet.

Orange-tips were out in good numbers, and being quite skittish despite the lack of sun. I was hoping to find one resting on the cow parsley and showing off how effective that underwing camouflage is, but had to settle for this female tucking into a Common Vetch (I think).

In keeping with the 'Mr & Mrs' theme of this post, I present Mr Orange-tip, in a slightly different pose to the one in the 'Sevenoaks in Spring' post and waving his proboscis around in an engaging manner.

In contrast to those lovely pristine Orange-tips, this Peacock (who has of course lived through the winter rather than being newly emerged) has evidently been in the wars. Most of the damage seems to be at the back end - those diversionary eye-spots doing their job.

I was hurling abuse at this Green-veined White for flying away before I'd got a pic, when it suddenly doubled back and settled on a flower almost at my feet. I take it all back, Mrs GVW, you're a very lovely and helpful butterfly.

Back at Sue's having a cup of tea, I noticed a couple of House Sparrows on her neighbour's roof, and got some pics by standing on the toilet of her upstairs bathroom and pointing the camera out of the window. It was quite sparrow-enhancingly sunny by this point.

Oh, go on then, one last butterfly. Speckled Wood in Sue's garden, sitting half in shadow which was a pity but at least it sat still for a little while. We're planning a trip to Aston Rowant on Sunday where hopefully there'll be even more butterfly fun to be had.

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