Friday, 27 May 2016

May 27th Strumpshaw Fen

Butterfly watching is completely different from bird watching. Unlike birds, butterflies only come out when the weather is warm and sunny. Today was warm and sunny but with lots of cloud cover. It is pretty much like being in a hot shower and someone else turns on a tap in another room, its warm one moment and cool or cold the next. I was constantly praising the sun while it was out and then cursing the clouds for blocking it a few moments later. But this was a better day than it was the previous two days, I had to go for it if I wanted to see the two butterflies on the Strumpshaw 40 challenge.

Green-veined White
Swallowtails and common blues are high on my list at the moment as these beautiful creatures are at their best for only a few weeks. I was hoping that the butterfly gods were more kind to me today than they were on Wednesday, but it turned out not to be the case. Out of the two species, the common blue should be a lot easier to find and if I couldn't find a swallowtail, I was happy enough to go home seeing one of them instead. I knew that they loved bird's-foot trefoil, a plant that they lay their eggs on, and there was plenty of the stuff in flower along the Sandy Wall path. Sadly, after several walks up and down it scanning the trefoil, I could not find a single blue butterfly. I searched the meadow trail and along the river, but still nothing. The only butterflies I found all the while I was at Strumpshaw this afternoon were a few orange-tips, green-veined whites and a peacock. My butterfly quest was a bit of a failure.

Hawthorn flowers
Common Lizard
I may have failed in finding swallowtails and common blues, but at least I found a few basking lizards along the Sandy Wall wooden borders. They cheered me up a little. I just love how they just lay there, moving only if you get too close. They have a charming quality about them that makes you smile. It is like they smile back at you through their reptilian lips, tilting their scaly head slightly to see you better with one of their small beady eyes. Most of the visitors didn't even notice them as they walk past unless I point them out to them.

Nursery Spider (I think)
Willow Warbler
Cardinal Beetle
Spiderlings (baby spiders)
Cotton Grass and Red Campion
Large Red Damselfly
Variable or Azure Damselfly?
Peregrine Chicks via Hawk and Owl Trust's webcam
Back at Norwich after returning by train, I made quick visit to the cathedral to see how the peregrines were doing. There was no sign of either of the adults, but via the webcam feed on the Hawk and Owl Trust's tablet, I could see four balls of fluff. All four of the chicks are still alive and healthy, amazing since I heard one of them was weak and close to Death's door a couple of weeks ago. They have grown tremendously and their adult feathers are starting to appear through their white fluffy baby down feathers. It won't be long until they lose this white fluffy layer completely and start thinking about leaving the nest.

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