Wednesday, 23 August 2017

A walk along the river bank

I went for a walk along the bank of the River Nene, near where I grew up and close to the Ox Hovel that I wrote about recently.  This time I was looking for dragonflies and almost as soon as I crossed the coach bridge I saw several hawkers flying along the bank and across the meadow.  I could see at least three brown hawkers but the first one I saw at rest was this male southern hawker (Aeshna cyanea).

Then I spotted a male brown hawker (Aeshna grandis) low down in the foliage at the edge of the meadow.

I crept around to get a clearer view.

And he let me get quite close.

He was still there when I decided to go farther along the bank.  A few metres on I found another southern hawker.

And then another.

And another.

I walked as far as the Ox Hovel but this time there were no solitary bees to be seen - I expect their season is already over.  When I walked back the bank was in shadow and there were no dragonflies flying.  I think they had all gone over to the other bank to stay in the sunshine.

Monday, 21 August 2017

Eclipse news - from the mallards

An update on the eclipse of the mallards on the day of a total eclipse of the sun in the USA.  I wrote a couple of weeks ago about the mallard drakes in complete camouflage outfits while they waited for their new wing feathers to grow. Some of them, such as this one, are still in eclipse plumage.  He seemed quite pleased with himself.

Here he is with a duck for comparison.  Note her darker and two-tone beak.

When the sun came out he was doing a bit of yoga.

Then suddenly there was trouble as another drake appeared.  This one is well on the way to developing its breeding colour plumage and wanted to take over the mound of rushes.

The first drake jumped into the water to escape so the newcomer attacked the duck

and chased her into the water as well.

Once he had cleared all the others away he gave a victory salute.

The first drake sat and watched until the intruder went away.  You can see the green just starting to appear in his head feathers.

And his wing feathers are largely regrown.

This is one of this year's young, now full grown and showing the beautiful indigo speculum feathers.

You can tell it was a quiet day in the hide when the most interesting bird on the lake was a mallard!

Saturday, 19 August 2017

A sheep in wolf's clothing

One way of getting on in the insect world is to pretend to be fierce and dangerous by disguising yourself as something that really is - a tactic known as Batesian mimicry.  I have posted photos of hoverflies that mimic bumblebees before but this is the first time I have seen one pretending to be a wasp.  This is Volucella inanis, a wasp mimic hoverfly.  The photos were taken in Coton Manor Gardens in Northamptonshire.

Thursday, 17 August 2017

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Red squirrels in summer

It's been some time since I posted any red squirrel photos so here are a few of the latest.

This one with a dark tail is the dominant male.  His ear tufts are just starting to regrow after moulting.

Although they look cute and furry, squirrels have a pretty hard life and there is a lot of fighting between them.  The boss has had a few bites out of his ear.

One of the females has a very blond tail.

She also carries a few scars.

A younger male has a two-tone tail.

Another female has similar colouring.  I saw at least four individuals but it is difficult to keep track of them all as they run and chase each other around.