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Friday, 11 June 2021

Starting to Catch Up - 3rd to 17th May, 2021

It has been a long while since my last blog post, due to a number of reasons, not least of which was Lindsay and I being away for the second half of May during which time I shot more than five thousand frames with my camera. I am still in the process of working my way through them all and have still got a way to go, so here is a relatively brief blog post - images, but few words - just to keep the ball rolling until I come up with the first part of my blog post on our Outer Hebrides visit.

Friday, 3rd May          Saltersford Valley ; Garden

It had been a relatively unproductive start to the week and, the weather having recently turned somewhat warmer with some sunshine, I decided on a visit to Saltersford Valley this day in the hope of finding my first damselflies and dragonflies of the season. In the event, I was too early and the visit was none too successful. The Reed Buntings were busy, however.

Reed Bunting (Emberiza schoeniclus) (male) - Saltersford Valley
On the far side of my circuit of the site I noted a Great Crested Grebe sitting on a nest.

Great Crested Grebe (Podiceps cristatus) - Saltersford Valley
As I calmly walked by on the path, the bird (presumed female) got up and swam away. I grabbed a distant shot of the nest and eggs and beat a hasty retreat up the hill away from the lake.

nest of Great Crested Grebe - Saltersford Valley
I saw little else during my brief visit, but did take photos of a couple of wildflowers - I have no idea of the ID of the first one! This has now been identified as Meadow Cress (known in the parts as Cuckoo Flower) - thank you, Diane!

Cuckoo Flower (Cardamine pratensis) - Saltersford Valley
Marsh Marigold (Caltha palustris) - Saltersford Valley
That afternoon, a male Bullfinch graced our garden.

Bullfinch (Pyrrhula pyrrhula) (male) - our garden
Saturday, 8th May          Garden

The Mallards were still visiting, and continued to do so for a while although it is now around four days since one (the female) was last seen.

Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos) (male) - our garden
Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos) (female) - our garden
Sunday, 9th May          Heather Lake ; Garden Moth Trap

I made another attempt at finding damsels and dragons, this time at Heather Lake, and yet again I failed. I had to point the camera at something, and this Coot turned out to be that 'something'!

Coot (Fulica atra) - Heather Lake
That night, the moth trap went out and scored a meagre six moths of six different species. These two were the most interesting from my point of view.

Swallow Prominent (Pheosia tremula) - from garden moth trap
Lunar Marbled Brown (Drymonia ruficornis) - from garden moth trap
Monday, 10th May          Garden

We occasionally see Holly Blue butterflies in our garden but, now the ivy has gone, they do not often stop. This one decided to oblige, however.

Holly Blue (Celastrina argiolus) - our garden
The Common Green Shieldbug is, as the name suggests, the most common of the shieldbugs in these parts. This one decided to land on a conservatory window and, having taken a shot from outside, I took another of its underside from inside.

Common Green Shieldbug (Palomena prasina) - our garden

Mr Bullfinch did me the favour of posing outside my study window that day, too.

Bullfinch (Pyrrhula pyrrhula) (male) - our garden
Tuesday, 11th May

The Garlic Mustard plants in the garden, once considered by me to be an unwelcome weed, have been left to grow for the past couple of years, as they are favoured by Orange-tip butterflies. Last year we had a few Orange-tip caterpillars on the plants, but these seemed to get predated by the birds in our garden, with House Sparrows and Blue Tits being the main suspects. This year we have somewhat more Garlic Mustard, and have had more sightings of Orange-tips. Here's a female:-

Orange-tip (Anthocharis cardamines) (female) - our garden
Since returning from the Outer Hebrides, I have noticed that we have Orange-tip caterpillars (some absolutely minute) on the Garlic Mustard, and I am keeping a close eye on them!

I also photographed a day-flying moth - a Cinnabar - in the garden that day.

Cinnabar (Tyria jacobaeae) - our garden
Wednesday, 12th May

On this day I managed some shots of a male Orange-tip, demonstrating the origin of the common name for this species.

Orange-tip (Anthocharis cardamines) (male) - our garden
I also photographed this 'fly' that day. Initially I thought it might be a male St Mark's Fly but now I'm far from sure.

St Mark's Fly (male) ? - our garden
The rest of the week was unproductive as I was clearing the decks prior to our departure to the islands.


This brings me to the end of this blog post. Blogger has been playing silly devils with the font size, seemingly randomly changing it, and then when I call for a larger size making it even smaller! This has meant that I have to request a size even bigger still, and now I'm ending up with font sizes that are all over the place - sorry!

Oh, and now, it seems, it won't let me change my header image!

I'll now be returning to photo processing the rest of the Outer Hebrides material, after which I will be working on the material captured after my return, including, I'm delighted to report, a few damsels and dragons. I'm not sure what will appear on my blog next!

In the meantime, take great care and stay safe - - - - Richard


  1. Hi Richard, wonderful set of photos and I love the inside and outside of the Green Shield bug. I think that first flower is Meadow Cress Cardamine pratensis.

    I know the feeling of having so many photos to go through. I have been clicking away but it takes so much time to go through them all and get ID. Time is really not on my side it seems at present but with the bit of freedom allowed here we really must take advantage of it and try to relax a bit. We are hoping to to take a drive early next week, but we will see what happens.

    Keep safe and take care, I do not trust the vaccinations totally and we are still trying to be very careful!! Very best wishes to you both, Diane

    1. Thank you, Diane. Your flower ID is, I'm sure, spot-on and I have editied the above accordingly.

      I am now working on the photos from the last day of our Scottish visit and it's been a bit of a marathon. I now have a fortnight's worth of photos taken since we got home, including four dragonfly sessions, to process. It seems like I'm forever sitting at the computer!

      We too are continuing to be very careful and not relying on the vaccine for our safety, but just accepting it as something that makes us feel more comfortable about life.

      Take great care and stay safe - - - Richard

  2. Lovely post Richard full of your usual high quality images. I see you have snuck a few male Bullfinch shots in there, beautiful. I know the feeling well. Trying to catch up with all the photos is a full time job in itself. Take care.

    1. Thank you, Marc. While you're showing those amazing Norfolk Hawker images, I will not feel guilty obout taunting you with a few Bullfinches!

      I'm still two weeks behind with my photo processing, including four dragon/damsel sessions - very frustrating.

      Stay safe - - - Richard

  3. Welcome back, Richard. In addition to being away, you were having computer problems if I recall correctly, and I assume that those issues have been resolved. Like others, I am sure, I am looking forward to coverage of your adventures in the Outer Hebrides, a region most of us will never experience. In the meantime, this is a delightful post, and I especially like the shots of the Great Crested Grebe and the eggs in the nest. It is such a dramatic bird! Glad to see the Bullfinch coming to your yard regularly. I remember him well. All the best to you and Lindsay. Now get busy working on those pictures! David

    1. It wasn't computer problems as such, David, but being away from my computer and, for the first part of our absence from home, being away from internet access too.

      I was at the Great Crested Grebe location again yesterday. The nest was deserted and the adult was there, but I didn't see any chicks. This doesn't mean that there weren't any, however, as I had a very limited field of view.

      Outer Hebrides photos should be finished later today, which will just leave the writing to be done. I wish I could get to the bottom of this header problem with Blogger!

      Best wishes to you and Miriam - - - Richard

  4. Hi Richard, beautiful photos. I like the bullfinch and the white flower. Greetings Caroline

    1. Thank you, Caroline. Diane's note, above, has allowed me to put an identity to that flower. Best wishes - - - Richard

  5. Hi Richard,
    Nice to see a bit of quality colour while I am stuck with my night shots of the foxes. Stay safe.

    1. Those colour night shots of yours of the foxes are pretty amazing, Mike, and way beyond my capability. Take good care - - - Richard

  6. Beautiful images of all, the Bullfinch are excellent Richard.

    1. Thank you, Bob. I'm pleased to say that our garden continues to give us a great deal of pleasure. Stay safe - - - Richard

  7. Hello Richard
    this post was already very good now I'm waiting for the 5000 pictures, as I know you there will definitely be some delicacies, I'm looking forward to it
    Greetings Frank

    1. Hi Frank. Thank you for your visit. Sorry for the late reply - I have now processed the 5000 and cut them down to probably around 200, but I'm not ready to show any of them just yet! I think that my next blog post will be on dragonflies.

      Best wishes - - - Richard

  8. Outstanding photographs!

    Thank you, Richard. This post was a perfect accompaniment for my morning coffee.

    I continue to be jealous of anyone who can observe and photograph the Orange-tip. It has wings which appear to have been embroidered with jade thread. Stunning!

    Nice work to capture the Grebe nest with eggs!

    Gini and I hope you and Lindsay have recuperated from your travels. There is no pressure to post some of those 5,000 images - however - the tone of the posts above from your rabid fans suggests their patience may not last too long. Us? We are in no hurry. Honestly. The tapping feet? Music. That's it. There is music playing.

    Have a peaceful week!

    1. Hi Wally - once again, my apologies for this late reply. I've been up to my nexk in all sorts of things needing my attention, but at least I've processed the 5000+ now - and a few more taken since them, mainly of dragons!

      I'm pleased to hear that it's not just me that sees the underside of the Orange-tip rear wing as having a green element when, on close examination, it's purely a fine pattern of black and yellow!

      It would seem that you are probably going to have to wait a while for a blog post on the Outer Hebrides as it will take a serious amount of work to prepare it, and I'm almost certainly going to do a shorter post on dragons and damsels in the interim.

      Best wishes to you and Gini - I hope you have a great week ahead of you - - - Richard

  9. Maravilloso reportaje, me ha encantado. Esperaré pacientemente a ver esas 5000 fotos de tus viajes, que serán espectaculares no tengo duda. Enhorabuena amigo mío y un fuerte abrazo desde el norte de España.

    1. Gracias, Germán. Lamento decirte que tendrás que esperar una semana más o más antes de ver cualquiera de esas 5000 fotos, que ahora se han reducido a aproximadamente 200. Mis mejores deseos - mantente a salvo - - - Richard


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