Sunday, 8 August 2010

Malling Down

It's been a while since the last blog post. I am currently in Brighton, staying at Mike and Kathy's house and looking after this...

and this.

Lacking a car and having lots of work to do has meant few photographic opportunities. Also, I only had the 18-200mm lens (aka the 'useless lens') with me... until Thursday. That morning I went to the post office to collect a mystery parcel and found it contained a 180mm f3.5 Sigma macro lens - a late and overwhelmingly wonderful birthday present from Rob.

I wasted no time taking it out in the back garden and trying it out on the various flies, spiders and snails I could find. Then this male Holly Blue showed up and sat on a leaf for ages. I took lots of photos of it, of which this is one.

Today I met Sue at Malling Down and we went for a stroll. It was a mostly sunny day with light breezes, conducive to butterfly-watching.

Malling Down looks like this. Nice, eh? But I'm getting ahead of myself - this pic was taken from up on the top (with the not-so-useless 18-200mm). On the way up we stopped lots of times to photograph the many butterflies and other stuff that was around.

It seemed that we were too late for Chalkhill Blues and too early for Adonis Blues. The Common Blues provided ample compensation. I was really pleased to find this blue-variant female, taking her time feeding on a thistle flower.

My favourite butterfly - a spankingly pretty Small Copper. The only one I saw, though I guess there must have been others. The habitat looked pretty good for them.

Silver-spotted Skipper! There were quite a lot of these about - 'locally abundant' would be the word(s), though they're still rare butterflies on the national scale. They were frustratingly difficult to follow in flight, when they look like buzzy dark moths, but the many clumps of Wild Thyme tempted them down to feed.

Sue had a go with the fab new lens, and took this lovely shot of a Seven-spot Ladybird walking about on my hand.

Other butterflies around included Small Heath (got pics, none of them great but here's one anyway), Brimstone, Gatekeeper and Meadow Brown. The other stuff we saw included a noisy Buzzard, some Six-spot Burnets and an unIDed hawker dragonfly.

Post-walk, we met up with Michele and Mushu and had a drink at a very nice nearby pub. While we were there, a whole army (or maybe I should say orgy) of winged ants emerged from their nest. I attracted some puzzled looks and comments when I went over for some photos. Twenty minutes later the last stragglers had flown up to join the aerial bonk-fest.

Sue went home after this and Michele gave me a lift to Lewes station. As we packed our stuff in the car we noticed this dozy juvenile Robin on the verge, and I took several photos with the not-useless-at-all-really 18-200mm lens. It was a cutie but far too approachable - hope it gets some road-sense (and dog-sense, and people-sense) soon.

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