Thursday, June 18, 2009

Ampthill Park.

First thing this morning I undertook my monthly bird survey over Ampthill Park. The highlight was a red kite making its way westwards along the Greensand Ridge, much to the consternation of a couple of local jackdaws. I was also chuffed to find a pair of buzzards with a young one trying out its wings, the first proof of breeding I've seen in this immediate area. Other birds with fledglings included robin, dunnock, song thrush, mistle thrush, moorhen, blue tit, great tit, long-tailed tit, blackcap, wren and carrion crow, the latter with a hapless frog hanging from its mouth!

There were a number of chimney sweeper moths around, looking like they'd dipped the tips of their wings into a paint pot! There's plenty of pignut around, which will suit the larvae, who enjoy consuming its flowers and seeds.

And here's the dramatically-suited Narrow-bordered Five-spot Burnet. There must have been 20 or so fluttering around at the northern end of the Flushes, and they were quite a sight.

This is the remains of one of the distinctive cocoons from which the Burnets emerge.

The yellow of Tormentil and white of Heath Bedstraw makes for a dramatic contrast all over the grasslands to the north of the Park.

And, finally, a Large Skipper butterfly. The prominent dark 'sex brand' marks on the wings show that this is a male. Thomas & Lewington describe how they tend to patrol their patch from about 10am until noon, with slow extended flights, hovering just above the ground, or weaving around grass clumps, scanning each for the presence of a female. In the afternoons, active flying is replaced by a siesta in the sunshine. Sounds like a good idea to me!

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