Saturday, August 8, 2009

Ampthill Park & Chandos Road, Ampthill

This mysterious object is a Buttolo decoy call for attracting Roe Deer. The idea is to hold it in the palm of the hand, and then press the rubber down, which results in a high-pitched squeak. Mine arrived in the post yesterday, and I couldn't wait to give it a go today. Roe Deer are only just starting to colonise Bedfordshire, but Muntjac are everywhere thanks to the presence of Woburn Abbey close by, from which they escaped some time ago. They are spreading throughout the country and are particularly common here. All of the literature says that Muntjac are as responsive to the Buttolo as Roe Deer.

To cut a long story short, the Buttolo is amazingly effective. In the Darkenings I soon had an unseen Muntjac barking close by in response to the decoy, though I didn't see it. A bit further north I tried again at the top of the Greensand Ridge, with a good view through the trees. After 5 minutes or so there was a sudden disturbance just to the right of where I was crouching....and a female Muntjac shot off down the hill, pausing to look back and glare at me. She had approached me unawares and got a shock when walking around the tree to find me just a couple of metres in front of her!

These decoy calls are mostly used by the hunting fraternity...and it's become obvious to me just how deadly effective they are!

Other wildlife included this female Brimstone butterfly nectaring on Knapweed.
These hoverflies were everywhere: Eupeodes luniger - I love the little 'moustache' markings.
And a record shot of a male Common Blue butterfly. They appear to be a lot less common than they used to be.

Back at home there were 7 species of butterfly on or around the flowering Buddleia: Common Blue (a female this time); Large White; Painted Lady; Peacock; Small Tortoiseshell; Comma and Gatekeeper. And there was a real hoverfly-fest in our tiny garden: Eupeodes luniger, Syritta pipiens, Eristalis pertinax, Dasysyrphus albostriatus, Meliscaeva auricollis, Sphaerophoria scripta and, new for the garden, Xylota segnis.

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