Thursday 30 July 2015

Who stole the sunshine?

Bovingdon (BMT): My word, it’s been a cold, grey, windy, wet week. It’s a good job I’ve had more than sun-loving invertebrates to adore. This Summer has been a bumper year for baby birds at the Brickworks. I’ve not managed any photographs worth sharing but the experiences have been special. Nuthatches, Whitethroats, Linnets, Mistle Thrushes, Blackcaps, Robins and all the Tit families have courted, created and encouraged their noisy and nervous youngsters out into the woodland and surrounding scrub. I’ve loved running into them.

The little flock that is holding my interest at the moment is a party of 4+ freshly fledged, belle-of-the-ball Bullfinches (I really rather love Bullfinches...). Each time I arrive at the Brickworks, there they are, in the woodland, right by the entrance. If I approach quietly, and stay hidden, I’m able to watch the youngsters flit through the branches, sighing softly and occasionally finding buds or grubs that are actually worth eating. They don’t seem to stray far from this area except when I have to unlatch the gate and take the footpath past it, unfortunately. Then, they zoom off, scattering like Red Arrows breaking formation, a trail of white rumps, all making for the more dense woodland on the opposite side of the path. Still, they stay close by, giving themselves away with frequent calling. And, it isn’t too long before they’re all back in that same small area from which they fled, finding comfort and safety in its familiarity, and harvesting food and experience for life outside the nest.

Secrecy and sensitivity are part of this species’ charisma. There’s also the male’s peachy red, black and handsome grey colouring with that bull neck, neat little bill and glossy black head to attract the discerning eye. Smart, stout and enigmatic, it’s always special to see these birds. I’m making the most of the youngsters whilst they stay faithful to this one small pocket of woodland. Although they won’t move far, I guess they will spread out a little as they mature and find mates of their own.

The sighing of a Bullfinch…

Returning to the subject of sunshine, if there’s anything that can brighten up a cold, blustery day it’s the dazzling yellow of Ragwort and the burning orange of a Small Copper butterfly. The two combined this morning at Roughdown Common. It was only my second Small Copper of the year too, so, really great to see.

And, a couple of sunnier photos (below) from last weekend at the Brickworks. A 6-Spot Burnet (with photobombing hoverfly) on Rosebay Willowherb and a migrant moth, a Silver Y, in amongst Bird's-foot Trefoil. That reminds me, I read a very interesting article on moth migration recently. Stop sniggering. It really was interesting. It turns out that moths don't just fling themselves into the air willy-nilly, hoping they end up somewhere hospitable. Oh no, these canny little flutterers know exactly when to stay put and when to ride the wind-streams. There is serious precision involved….and…the research was carried out by Rothamsted Research, based just up the road in Harpenden. Oh…so now you're interested….ok, well the article is HERE, if you fancy a look.


  1. An interesting write up and some more lovely photos. Nicely done. From ARF

  2. Haven't seen a single small copper at all this year yet. Hopefully my upcoming bridge camera will be able to take shots with such vibrance and detail

  3. Thank you ARF and Simon. Enjoy the new camera Simon!


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