Monday, 3 August 2020

Went There, Saw That...

Yes, it's going to be one of those kind of posts I'm afraid. Still, at least I've got a pretty decent camera now, and can illustrate such output with gripping close-ups of all the quality. Like yesterday...

Another afternoon walk from West Bexington to East Bexington. This is a great way to get some nice coast in, yet miss the crowds. And there will always be birds. For some reason I cannot seem to avoid Hobbies at the moment. Three in the last four trips here I think. Yesterday's was actually in view long enough to allow a burst of record shots...

Proof of Hobby life. Just.


Checking the gulls is all part of the fun, but the only juvenile Yellow-legged I found was out over the sea off East Bex, so the photo is basically a record shot of Portland...

Amazing how few pixels you actually need in order to clinch juv YLG


And so to today...

A short, early stroll on Cogden Beach. A couple of Willow Warblers and three Wheatears was all I managed on the passerine migrant front, and a fresh-looking juv Peregrine dashed E along the beach, looking glorious in the low morning sun. Not many gulls around though, so I was chuffed when one of them was another juv YLG, and not an individual I've photographed before either. Unfortunately it only let me get a single side-on photo. Thankfully it was a decent one...

Juv YLG. Plain outer greater coverts have formed a nice dark rectangle on this bird.
Juv Herring Gull. Note very chequered greater coverts and strongly notched tertials (cf YLG above)
Token non-gull. Wheatear.


Must admit, I do love the warm tones of early morning sunlight. Shame I couldn't stay a bit longer.

This afternoon I went to Powerstock Common with Sandra. It's pretty close to where we live, and has proved a terrific location for avoiding crowds, a trick we first pulled off on the May bank holiday. We've returned several times since, and as the weather forecast looked good we were hopeful of a few butterflies. Our target was Brown Argus, and though we didn't have any gen regarding where exactly to look, we were pretty confident of plenty to amuse us anyway. There was indeed. Including a few surprises...

Surprise number one, a stonking Clouded Yellow.
Jackpot! A crisp little Brown Argus.
Just look at that! Neat.
A brown female Common Blue. The stringer's Brown Argus.

Surprise number two was an absolutely bonkers fly! Sometimes I have this weird knack for remembering scientific names, and the moment I spotted this monster I recalled seeing a couple of Twitter posts featuring it, and a name came to me instantly: Tachina grossa. I googled it to check, and sure enough, my slightly odd talent had indeed borne fruit. Sadly it doesn't appear to have a worthwhile English name (giant tachinid fly doesn't count due to breaching the terminal dullness threshold) but boy, it deserves one. It is bigger than a lot of bumble bees, and makes a similar sound. It is simply enormous! Anyway, it's a...er...fly tick.

Tachina grossa. Mega!
Its larvae consume caterpillars from the inside. And yet look at the cuddly beast...butter wouldn't melt.


Surprise number three was hornet. Or rather, hornets plural...

Hornets! Simply amazing creatures. So impressive!

Don't know what this interaction signifies, but it seemed non-agressive...

...even when it went this far


We appeared to have stumbled upon a nest site, or at least somewhere close to a nest, because several individuals were coming and going to this spot. We'll check it again at a later date.

Surprises numbers four and five were birds. First up, this...

A smart Spotted Flycatcher. Hopefully there'll be a few on the coast soon.

I wasn't quite so clever with the camera when surprise number five appeared. It was preceded by a couple of strident calls - 'pit-chou...pit-chou' - but it took my brain a few seconds to compute, so when the Marsh Tit hove into view I wasn't ready. It perched up beautifully for a photo, really close, but in my excitement I pressed the power button instead of the shutter. The camera makes one of those generic 'shutting-down' type noises when it switches off. Never has it sounded so finger-pointing and laughy.

Anyway, I was gutted. It's the first Dorset Marsh Tit I've seen. However, you'll just have to take my word for it...

2 comments:

  1. Some excellent photo's Gav, cuddling hornets? whatever next and that fly - wow. I'd expect to find that one in a web shouting "Help me" - movie reference ;o)

    I'm off next week to see a mate in Gloucestershire. He's been watching a hobby since it arrived, mated and hopefully by next week, the juveniles emerge. I may take a peek whilst there.

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    1. Thanks Dave. The fly was new to Sandra and me, and a real surprise. But its appearance is actually quite comical, and I have never before known my wife collapse in fits of laughter at an insect! Actually it is brilliant that the natural world still provides a steady supply of delightful novelty, even at our advanced age...

      Enjoy the Hobbies. What am I saying?! Obviously you will :0)

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