Padfield

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Padfield
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Re: Padfield

Postby Padfield » Sat Oct 07, 2017 6:06 pm

I found a few more white-letter hairstreak eggs yesterday. Here are two views of the same pair:

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And a single, less accessible one:

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Today it was beautifully sunny all day AND I was free! So first Minnie and I went to check the cardinal site, just in case any were still around. We saw none - nor were there any Buddleia in flower, so it wasn't surprising. The only butterflies on the wing were southern small whites, Queen of Spain fritillaries, walls and a few blues - common and Adonis. So I declare the cardinal season officially over!

Then we moved further east along the valley, where much more was flying. Not that much, I must say - it is not one of those autumns that feel like summer - but enough for a good day's butterflying. Here are some piccies:

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(spotted fritillary - still a few around)

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(Adonis is the commonest blue)

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(another Adonis - many butterflies of all species had half-eaten hindwings - this is fattening up season for the black redstarts and others!)

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(this grayling frequently rested with his wings open)

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(grayling again)

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(tree graylings were the commonest butterfly)

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(wall)

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(rosy grizzled skipper)

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(probably southern grizzled skipper, but I didn't see the underside)

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(end-of-season turquoise blue)

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(the same butterfly)

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(Chapman's blue)

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(Queen of Spain)

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(a very distant golden eagle, taken on full zoom and then cropped enormously!)

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(heron - perhaps not a bird you associate with the Alps but common here)

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(heron)

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(dog)

Guy
Guy's Butterflies: http://www.guypadfield.com

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Re: Padfield

Postby Pete Eeles » Sat Oct 07, 2017 6:43 pm

Padfield wrote:I found a few more white-letter hairstreak eggs yesterday. Here are two views of the same pair:


Great finds, Guy - inspirational stuff! I can't wait for the leaves to fall so that part 4 of the season can start in earnest :)

Cheers,

- Pete

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Re: Padfield

Postby Cotswold Cockney » Sat Oct 07, 2017 7:25 pm

Back in the days when I would search the woodlands for hibernating larvae in winter, including cold rainy Januarys, I would observe wave after wave of insectivorous flocks of birds systematically working through the trees, shrubs and bushes. It's a wonder any larvae survive this winter onslaught but, obviously some do. My locating spring larvae compared to autumn larvae totals shows a survival rate lower than 30%. In reality if it were possible to account for every survivor and losses in the English woodlands, probably the survival rate is even slimmer. The spring larvae are much harder to locate possibly simply because of reduced numbers.

Back in the 1970s, I had a fine Populus candicans aurora sapling in my garden. Beautiful cream and green tough leathery leaves. I spotted a fertile iris ovum on my greenhouse floor and carefully put the ovum on a small dab of UHU glue about the size of an egg base on a large candicans leaf and left it there to get on with it fully exposed to all the perils of predators and winter weather.

It reached third instar and about the end of October, was no longer to be seen on any leaves. Nor was it bent around a fork in a branch as is often the case by these larvae when hibernating. Then by pure luck I found it. About a foot above ground level on the main trunk of the ornamental popular tucked away neatly in a bark crevice. I like to keep a record of unusual birds in my garden but, only once have I seen a Tree Creeper in there. This little bird alighted just above soil level and worked its way up the candicans trunk looking for anything to eat. It passed close to the hibernating larva. That larva not only survived outside but lived on to produce the largest female iris I've ever bred and I've bred some big 'ns.

For those not familiar with this Poplar and its beautiful foliage here is an image I grabbed off the net. The council planted a sapling about 1/4 mile from my house years ago and it is now a massive tree at the roadside. It is easy to grow from small cuttings. Many of my family had trees struck from cuttings off my specimen in their gardens. My little sapling cost £2.25 back in the day. Quite a tidy sum for a plant back then.

Image
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Re: Padfield

Postby David M » Sun Oct 08, 2017 10:33 pm

Lovely array of species, Guy, even if many of them are well past their best.

What kind of a year have you had in la Suisse in 2017? I get the impression it's not been that great, but as ever you have done what you needed to in order to capture a fascinating range that we in the UK can only dream about.

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Re: Padfield

Postby Padfield » Sat Oct 14, 2017 6:13 pm

I agree CC - it is amazing that any larvae survive to adulthood. But just enough always do to keep the species alive! Your mega-female being a case in point, escaping the treecreeper (but having a little help from you at the very beginning of her life) ... Do I understand correctly that she fed on your candicans?

I've had a good year, David, though it's always difficult to compare years as a whole. Some things have been on excellent form, others less so and still others, for various reasons, I didn't get a chance to go looking for. It was generally an early year and seems to be winding down early too.

It was a beautiful day today in the Rhône Valley:

Image

Today's species were: small white, green-veined white, brimstone, clouded yellow, Berger's clouded yellow, common blue, Chapman's blue, Adonis blue, chalkhill blue, northern brown argus, possibly brown argus, Queen of Spain, spotted fritillary, red admiral, grayling, tree grayling, wall and speckled wood. No skippers, surprisingly - there is often a third brood of rosy grizzlies in good years and they were flying last week.

Here are a few piccies:

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(an aberrant male common blue in cop with a normal female. I spotted him before they mated. Then she spotted him, pestered him for a few seconds, flying above him while he batted his wings at her, then in another few seconds they were an item)

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(he was similarly marked on both sides)

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(male artaxerxes)

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(female Aricia - but which species? The amount of orange suggests agestis and the wings appear rounded ...)

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(... but this individual, which might be the same female, seems to have artaxerxes-shaped wings ...)

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(grayling)

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(Berger's)

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(Queen of Spain - females of many species were lurking in low vegetation, looking for places to lay)

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(this female spotted fritillary was doing the same)

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(this female Berger's was doing the same, but briefly came out of the grass for a photo-shoot)

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(wall)

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(Adonis blue)

Guy
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Re: Padfield

Postby Cotswold Cockney » Sat Oct 14, 2017 10:40 pm

Yes Guy, reared throughout on P candicans aurora. I had a range of Salix and Populus species growing in pots and in my garden. They were attractive to Poplar Hawk Moths and also the impressive Puss Moth with its unusual larvae.

Lombardy Poplar was a very useful foodplant as it was so easy to grow from small cuttings. it also grew quickly.

I was also sent a small cutting of a far eastern species of Polpar which was very useful. Unlike any Salix or Populus species with nice smooth green leaves. No idea what species it was. The former Newent Butterfly Farm in West Glos planted a few of my saplings grown from cuttings and last time I passed that place, those cuttings are now tall trees. That was over ten years ago. I would like to get it growing in my own little nature reserve which is also West of the River Severn and only a few miles away from where the former Butterfly farm was. Next time I pass I'll make a small detour and see if the trees are still there.

Of all the various species I bred and raised in the past, the most interesting was The Golden Emperor... Dilipa fenestra .. It's larva spin a tent of Celtis leaves and venture out mostly at night to feed. My stock was from Korea. Unusually for a member of the Apaturinae, it passes the winter as a pupa in one of its tents of leaves, which of course are long since dead for the winter and secured with lots of silk.

EDIT TO ADD @ 23:46.

That large female A. iris reared throughout on P.c.aurora was probably large simply because she had the whole growing tree to herself. I think her fine size was due to having top quality leaves throughout it's development rather than the actual species of foodplant. Growing foodplant for larvae is essential to produce not only normal size or large healthy specimens but, to produce more viable breeding stock for future generations.
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Re: Padfield

Postby David M » Sun Oct 15, 2017 10:25 pm

Padfield wrote:I've had a good year, David, though it's always difficult to compare years as a whole. Some things have been on excellent form, others less so and still others, for various reasons, I didn't get a chance to go looking for. It was generally an early year and seems to be winding down early too.

It was a beautiful day today in the Rhône Valley


Sure looks idyllic, Guy, even discounting aberrant forms of late season butterflies that you might find! :)

Interesting that your year has wound down early. I suspect this is the case in most of western Europe. The mild, dry spring chivvied things along for weeks on end, and the rains late in the season had precious little left to nourish.

One thing you will get that we probably won't is a cold winter.

So far it's been very stormy, and I pray that for recompense we will receive a calm, dry and very chilly spell in December/January. That will do no harm at all to our winged friends!

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Re: Padfield

Postby Padfield » Sat Oct 21, 2017 8:33 pm

Thanks, as always, CC, for these gems of first-hand wisdom. I'm sure you're right about the large female. Abundant, high-quality food and no adverse circumstances to precipitate pupation leads to magnificent insects.

No sign of that cold winter yet, David. After a relatively cool September, October has been warm, and though it clouded over this afternoon, plenty was flying this morning.

This clouded yellow was actually from a few days ago, but he was taken up here in the mountains - the warmth isn't just in the valley:

Image

In the valley this morning, rosy grizzled skippers were still flying - the third brood, I think:

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For the blues, I saw only common and Adonis before the clouds came:

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(common)

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(Adonis)

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(the same Adonis)

Down there, Berger's clouded yellows joined the cloudies:

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And graylings are still hanging in there!

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Walls often stay flying until late November or even December:

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The only fritillary was Queen of Spain and the only Vanessid red admiral. I think I saw a couple of whites but I didn't make a conscious note of the species.

Guy
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Re: Padfield

Postby essexbuzzard » Sat Oct 21, 2017 8:54 pm

It's that time of year again when we all get jealous of Guys species and sightings-though when aren't we jealous! It will be interesting to see what you turn up Guy at the beginning of November, when all we have is the occasional Red Admiral.

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Re: Padfield

Postby David M » Sun Oct 22, 2017 2:05 pm

That's still a creditable range of species for late October, Guy, even if most specimens are looking fairly ragged now.

I suppose your first snowfall won't be too far away? I guess not much will venture out after that!

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Re: Padfield

Postby Cotswold Cockney » Sun Oct 22, 2017 4:00 pm

Seen one or two "fresh" Red Admirals about in my garden today and prior to the prolonged rain over the past few days.

The many flowers on my Strawberry Tree ( Arbutus unedo ) are starting to fill out and grow large. They will open up soon when fully expanded. The Red Admirals like to feed from these, usually inverted as the flowers face downwards. Have had Red Ads feeding on those flowers during more than the past two decades. November Red Ads feeding are frequent and even the occasional December one. I have seen a fresh Red Ad flying strongly in the sunshine on a mild sunny January 1st in the centre of Cheltenham.
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Re: Padfield

Postby Padfield » Mon Oct 23, 2017 8:21 pm

It snowed a couple of hundred metres above me last night and today, David. Unfortunately, just rain at my altitude - but things have taken a distinct turn for the colder.

Strawberry tree is a great and undervalued late autumn nectar plant, CC. It doesn't surprise me at all that yours are attracting the red admirals.

Because of the weather, and because it was the first day of half-term, I zoomed off to the Papiliorama today for some exotica. There wasn't a huge variety on show as it turned out - they were doing quite a lot of gardening work in the dome - but I saw enough to make the journey well worth while.

First, some caterpillars. This, I think, is Papilio thoas:

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When I pulled the leaf down to get a better picture, it obligingly stuck out its osmaterium:

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The next I'm not sure about. There seemed to be three different instars occupying leaf extensions (or perhaps just the bare midrib) a little like white admiral caterpillars - and the spiky faces of the more mature instars suggested they were not too distantly related:

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(early instar)

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(a bit bigger, but not big enough to be easy to photograph in the gloom today)

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(what most of them looked like)

On the same plant there were caterpillars tucking themselves into rolled leaves:

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This is the plant these caterpillars were on:

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I've tried googling Neptis caterpillars and they seem close but not right (Neptis hylas is often to be seen in the Papiliorama, though not today).

A few other piccies, beginning with some of Euploea core - the first time I have seen this species here (I've seen it in India though). This is the model for Hypolimnas bolina females:

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(this is a male, as indicated by the sex brand on the forewing)

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(also a male, though the sex brand is not so visible)

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This is a male Heliconius ismenius apparently courting a female:

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I took a short video of this:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lWM8pkL9zeM&feature=youtu.be

Elsewhere, a misguided male Heliconius sappho was trying to seduce a Heliconius melpomene:

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This is the beautiful green form, viridiana, of Heliconius doris:

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Here are two Greta oto, with their see-through wings:

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This is one of the Kalima species:

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And again:

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A Vindula species - probably dejone - watching from above:

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Pachliopta kotzebuea, from the Philippines:

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And Parides iphidamas, from South America:

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Danaus plexippus:

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As always, I could go on, but will stop! Now winter is approaching I think I'll spend a little more time in the steamy warmth of the butterfly house ...

Guy
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Re: Padfield

Postby David M » Wed Oct 25, 2017 9:21 pm

When Guy Padfield starts spending time in Papillorama, the curtain is coming down on the season for sure!

Surely you have a few weeks left before adult butterflies disappear from your patch?

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Re: Padfield

Postby Cotswold Cockney » Wed Oct 25, 2017 9:57 pm

Superbly sunny Autumn day here in Gloucestershire. Several Red Admirals about in the garden and a couple seen flying strongly in a Scrapyard near Cheltenham. With Buzzards circling overhead. Nice to combine a tad of Natural History observations whilst indulging in my other passion, old British cars. I was in the process of removing a Cylinder Head from an old Rover. Some of the very nice cars folks throw away nowadays is very wasteful. Very sad to see... :(
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Re: Padfield

Postby Padfield » Thu Oct 26, 2017 8:15 pm

Buzzard - sorry! I forgot to acknowledge your comment in my last post. I hope I?ll be able to provide something for you in November ...

David - yes, things are still flying here. But you can't grudge a man a trip to the tropics on a rainy day ... :D

CC - good to see you are recycling! Red admirals were everywhere out here just a week ago. Now a lot have moved south and the numbers have dropped considerably.

Yesterday afternoon I took a trip to the valley, where things were still on the decline despite lovely weather. I encountered last week's aberrant common blue again, though I only got a passing shot of him:

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Chapman's blue was also on the wing. I think this is one, but am not sure. To be honest, it looks more like icarus - so might be icarinus:

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The only other blue was Adonis:

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Walls are still relatively common and tree graylings all over the place:

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No Queens - this is not a winter Queen site. A few small whites, several clouded yellows and reasonable numbers of Berger's clouded yellows were on the wing:

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There were no rosy grizzled skippers either.

Today I spent three hours failing to find sloe hairstreak eggs. It was at the site where I saw plenty of adults back in June and I set out this morning quietly confident. In the event, I found just one brown hairstreak egg instead!

Image

This was north of where I live, in the Jura Vaudois, and I didn't expect to see many adult butterflies. A few small whites were flying, as well as clouded yellows, Berger's or pale clouded (none of these stopped), a few Adonis blues, a common blue, a couple of red admirals and a small copper:

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This is a winter damselfly, Sympecma fusca:

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If the sun shines tomorrow I might go looking for its much rarer relative, the Siberian winter damselfly, which flies at one or two secret spots in the valley ...

Finally, a red kite, watching over us:

Image

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Re: Padfield

Postby essexbuzzard » Thu Oct 26, 2017 8:29 pm

I'm guessing kites are not very common your way, Guy? Plenty of black kites of course...

No,we don't begrudge you a rainy day in the tropics!

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Re: Padfield

Postby David M » Sun Oct 29, 2017 10:21 pm

Guy, I wouldn't begrudge you anything!! We European dwellers need an out of season fix every once in a while....although birds DO provide a useful distraction!

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Re: Padfield

Postby Cotswold Cockney » Mon Oct 30, 2017 11:34 pm

I find Padfield's thread a must see and no doubt do others. I hope my occasional off-topic asides I sometimes add here do not spoil folks enjoyment of Padfield's personal diary thread. Here's another one.

Beautiful sunny day here in Gloucestershire today so decided to again visit my local Car Dismantlers and remove some more useful parts from a tidy Rover nobody wanted. Unusually my visit today did not see or hear any Buzzards. However, a couple of entomological and ornithological events I feel worth a mention.

First was spotting a poor moth dead and wedged between two body panel joints. Looked like a faded Grey Arches tucked away in that confined space. :~

2017-10-29 Scrapyard Visit 620ti & Grey Arches Moth. 002.JPG


Using my fine needle nosed pliers, I was able to remove the dead moth and this confirmed its identity :~

2017-10-29 Scrapyard Visit 620ti & Grey Arches Moth. 004.JPG


Then a little later, having arranged for the yard staff to raise the car for safe under car access, whilst under the front of the car undoing some silly tight bolts, in my peripheral vision I was alerted to what I first thought was a Wood Mouse rooting about for food morsels close by. I slowly moved my head to see better and it was not a mouse, but, a Wren. It did not appear alarmed by my being so close ~ the bird less than a meter away at one point. Then soon after it quickly moved away under another car. That was the closest I've ever been to a wild Wren. Eyeball to eyeball contact in fact..:)

By the way, that fine old Rover I suspect was taken in part exchange by one of the local "Arthur Daley" used car dealers' own scrapage schemes. Dealers who mainly because of constraints to protect the consumer, these mean the consumer pays much more for their motoring. So dealers no longer see any car over say ten years of age, even nice ones, as the proverbial "nice little earners" they once were. Many of the tidy cars in the yard also disposed of the same way I and thousands of others worldwide would love to have. Very wasteful. Some believe removing old cars is good for the environment. Probably many of the same folks conned into believing Diesels are good for the environment without ever questioning that false scenario. Those we entrust to the Nation's and the Environment's well being keen to be seen to be doing the right "Green thing" by implementing various measures, including unfair tax tables based on EU and other guidelines measuring the wrong stuff! I've been banging that drum for over a dozen years around on-line transport enthusiasts web sites. I'd like to see every one of those we entrust to the environment's well being stand behind their environmentally friendly diesel during the emissions part of the MoT test.... taking lots of deep breaths and then ask themselves how the hell any ever pass the emissions test. They all do because they've been measuring the wrong stuff using the wrong engine operating test parameters for years.

Apologies for going off on one of my extended tangerines again.. :).. I do so because I care strongly about these things and I've almost certainly planted and cared for more trees than the average green activist. Back in the days when our indigenous Large Blue was a severely endangered species, it was put on a protected list by one of our Governments Departments. Then at that same time another department arranged financial grants to landowners to plough or bulldoze their remaining habitats to oblivion. All to often us Brits excel in getting far to many important and less important things quite simply wrong. Often with the best intentions resulting in the worse outcomes.
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Re: Padfield

Postby Padfield » Sun Nov 05, 2017 7:43 am

Hi Buzzard. Red kites are not really rare here but certainly less numerous than blacks. And you never lose reactions learnt in childhood - red kite is an exciting bird!

David - glad to help provide that little out-of-season fix! :D

CC - No problem at all with your tangerines, as you call them. If I don't always reply as fully as you post, it is a matter of time. In this instance, despite being a non-driver myself, I'm with you. If the other species on the planet really had a voice, I'm not sure their priorities would be the same as those of metropolitan greens around the world ...

On Friday I dropped down to the valley again. Bad weather was on the way - arriving today - and that was to be the last warm, sunny day for a bit. Here's a small selection of what was still on the wing:

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(Berger's clouded yellow)

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(Queen of Spain)

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(Adonis blue)

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(tree grayling)

Image

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(clouded yellow)

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(comma)

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(small copper)

Other than these species I also saw a couple of common blues and I think that's it. I don't remember even a small white or a red admiral.

Guy
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Re: Padfield

Postby essexbuzzard » Sun Nov 05, 2017 8:19 am

Great, I knew you would provide some November sightings, Guy! To be fair, I managed 7 species in Britain on the 1st, which for me was astonishing, and by far my most successful November day ever.


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