Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Painted Lady Invasion

There were about 50 in my Garden yesterday. Whilst we were walking the dogs we saw quite a few in the forest. later karen sent me the following article..

"Apparently we are being invaded. Millions of exotic migrants are breezing into Britain,

In what could be the biggest influx of butterflies into this country in decades, millions have flown into Britain from the deserts of north Africa. Up to 18,000 were spotted sailing on the breeze across Scolt Head Island on the north Norfolk coast: 50 arriving every minute according to Natural England nature reserve staff.

The mass migration began last Thursday when large numbers were seen off Portland Bill in Dorset. Since then, our highest mountains, biggest cities and thickest forests have proved no obstacle: thousands of painted ladies have turned up everywhere, from central London to Dumfries and Galloway.

Painted ladies reach our shores every summer, but the last major migration was in 1996. This year, rumours of an impending invasion began circulating in late winter. A Spanish scientist, Constanti Stefanescu, reported seeing hundreds of thousands of them emerging in Morocco in mid-February after heavy winter rains in north Africa triggered the germination of food plants devoured by its caterpillars. Aided by favourable winds and unimaginable reserves of stamina, large numbers were seen in Spain during April. A few weeks later, they had reached France.

"We've had reasonable migrations before, but nothing this sudden," says Martin Warren, chief executive of Butterfly Conservation. "All the signs are it could be one of the biggest ever."

On the coast, all you may see is a flash of orange whizz past at head height. When they settle on garden flowers they are as striking as their less adventurous relatives, the red admiral and the small tortoiseshell. Certain weeds should be very afraid: painted lady caterpillars feast on thistles before emerging as an immaculate new generation of adult butterflies in August.

"It's really quite wonderful," says Matthew Oates, the National Trust's adviser on nature. "It may be that thistle-cutting or spraying is unnecessary this summer because the caterpillars will defoliate them for you."

Come September, the painted ladies will be off again: the British-born generation begin an epic reverse trip, drawn by a mysterious calling to the hot, distant land of their mothers and fathers."

Apparently another large influx expected tomorrow and Friday.

The Bluetits have fledged

I have spent the last couple of weeks watching a pair of bluetits raising their brood in our nesting box. They make quite a racket as they wait to be fed. The parents have been kept very busy catching tiny caterpillars to feed them.Yesterday they finally left and all is quiet again.
Baby peeping Out
Catching breakfast for the Kids

Saturday, May 23, 2009

A Few More Photos from our trip to Abbotsbury

We went to the swannery on Friday. If you are ever in Dorset in May or early June it it well worth visiting the Swannery. It is a wonderful sight to see so many swans all nesting so close to each other. I was also luck enough to see my first Reed warbler.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Today I Saw a Cygnet Hatch!

Hello Mama
It was exhausting getting out of the shell!
Just out
You can see the crack in the egg.

We Visited the Swannery at Abbotsbury today and were luck enough to watch a cygnet hatch The photos came up in the wrong order but you can see the progress which took place over a period of about 20 minutes.

Abbotsbury Swannery conserves the only managed colony of nesting Mute swans in the world.Mute Swans are usually fiercely territorial by nature and it is therefore rare to see so many nesting swans in such close proximity to each other.but there are up to 150 pairs on a 2acre nesting site.There are often more than 600 adult swans on the site. In England the crown claims ownership of Mute swans with only three exceptions one of which is Abbotsbury. In1543 the Strangways family was given the right to claim ownership of all the nesting swans on the site and the family still own the swannery today,

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The Cygnets Have Arrived.

The cygnets have arrived. Once again we have two families. One has two cygnets and the other six. We are hoping this year that all will survive and war will not break out.The Cob from last year that caused all the trouble is not on the pond this year so maybe these two families will tolerate each other.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Its That Time of Year

I have been up to the pond several times this week and each day there has been a new family appearing. We have Goslings, ducklings and moorhen chicks.I expect next week the first cygnets might appear.