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Saturday, August 17, 2013

Dragonflies and Butterflies

Towards the end of July we had a trip over to Ham Wall Reserve on the Levels and were pleased to see plenty of dragonflies, including this beautiful Ruddy darter
Ruddy darter
and this huge Southern Hawker below, lovely to see in their own right but also a useful food source for birds such as Hobby, which spend the summer here before returning to Africa for the winter.
Southern hawker
 
There have also been a number of Painted ladies about, a species which migrates to Britain from its breeding grounds further south and no doubt, attracted this year by our warmer than usual summer!
Painted lady

 
It seems strange to be thinking of winter but already the Swifts have departed and the sounds of them screaming through the sky above the village won't be heard till May next year. I am ashamed to say that I failed to note their actual departure date but it seemed earlier than usual around the first week of August. What has been great to witness in the last few days though are the huge numbers of House martins flying over the village in pursuit of insects. I think they must have had a good breeding season as there seemed to be very few of them in the early part of summer, so the high numbers now must have been boosted by young birds that have fledged and taken to the wing with gusto. Their twittering calls when they soar overhead are a delight and hopefully they will remain for a few weeks yet. Swallows do not seem so abundant but perhaps they will succeed with late broods and more will line up on the wires before they too depart for their African winter.
 
As usual for August there seem to be few other birds about in the garden as the young moult into adult feathers and keep out of the way of any predators by tucking themselves into the hedgerows and undergrowth. I have seen a Jay in the garden though and heard the "yaffling" sound of a Green woodpecker calling nearby.
One other sight worth recording has been a pair of Sparrowhawks, with what I believe must be young calling out to attract their parents and being mobbed by the local Jackdaw gang across the valley from our house. Perhaps they nested in the Poplar trees on the hillside?