Thursday, 10 June 2010

Brighton and Shoreham

I spent the last week of May at Mike's house in Brighton, catsitting the charming Mango and Pepper. I didn't do any birding to speak of, but did find a lovely if slightly battered Poplar Hawkmoth in the back garden. Fearing that the cats would make short work of such a large and succulent moth, I relocated it to the front.

I didn't have my camera with me, as I'd had to stuff my bags with copies of my new book, to deliver to my dad in Hastings. Therefore this photo was taken with my phone. I'm quite impressed by the detail it's captured. Makes me wish I'd taken a few more, and moved the moth to a more photogenic backdrop.

Rob came over on the Saturday and we had a nice evening stroll along the Adur at Shoreham, next to the airfield, just up the road in a westerly direction. There was not a huge amount of wildlife to see, but I had fun with the macro lens.

Cow Parsley, Creeping Thistle and Cocksfoot, all the Cs. The Cow Parsley has almost finished flowering, the thistle is just about to bloom, and the Cocksfoot grass is in full flower, its tufty bunches festooned with soft purple stamens. This tall, tussock-forming grass with its coarse and chunky flowerheads is one of my favourites, especially as it is a foodplant of my beloved Thymelicus skipper butterflies.

On the return walk, heading into the sun, I saw loads of spiders carrying out routine maintenance on their webs in the long grass. I hadn't noticed them at all on the way out, but the light caught the silky strands of their webs on the way back. Rob, with his arachnophobe tendencies, strode briskly on as I crouched down to photograph some of the little spinners.

This is Tibellus oblongus, aka Grass Spider - long-bodied, with a distinctive dark stripe down its abdomen. There were also Garden Spiders and probably other species as well - my spider ID skills are somewhat rubbish.

Carrying the 70-300mm lens, Rob had less to point it at than I did with the macro. The ditch between our path and the airfield was full of Reed Warblers but they were not really close enough for this lens's limited reach. However, the river itself was amply stocked with non-breeding Mute Swans, and the group congregating in this creek made a nice image.

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