SIlverStuddedBlueButterfly

When I started writing this post I thought I'd found a Silver studded blue butterfly which would have been quite something as it's not known to inhabit Herefordshire where I photographed it. However after extensive research I've come to the conclusion that it's a Common blue and, though pretty, not of earth-shattering significance. Perhaps the most identifying feature that I could pick out is the way the patch of grey on the leading edge of the hind wing has a thin branch spiking out from the main grey area. Also, the band of grey that borders all the wings (just inside the white outer border) is very narrow and would probably be thicker in the Silver studded blue. The usual rule of thumb for nature spotting also applies: assume it's the most common thing unless you've reason to think different! And if you think you've made a groundbreaking discovery, you've almost definitely misidentified the species!

UnderpassSpider

A bit of a spider-fest recently, so sorry to those that don't much enjoy being unexpectedly presented with in your face images of them. I came across these Walnut orb weavers clustered around a light in an underpass. Dozens of them in a tangle of webs and poking out of crevices. It was really quite creepy – you wouldn't have wanted to blunder face first through their webs – it was about that height!

On the plus side I had a field day trying to photograph them, interestingly lit as they were by the underpass light, though it was actually still quite dark overall so needed high ISO and flash.

UnderpassSpider2

The annual Perseid meteor extravaganza kicked off a week ago with good views already being had in the Northern hemisphere. Apparently the next couple of nights are likely to offer the best views with up to 80 meteors an hour. Naturally this all comes caveated with the small print "weather permitting".

Get away from the bright city lights and look up to the sky. Even better, try and get a photograph – though that might just result in you missing them all entirely. The BBC has a report on this year's shower and Wikipedia has more than you'd ever want to know about the Perseids.

AutumnLeaves

The BBC reports that the impending signs of Autumn are later than usual, with blackberries not yet ripe in the hedgerows and Beech leaves resolutely green on the trees. This could be due to the hard, long winter delaying flowering, which of course must precede fruiting, and the hot, wet summer giving trees no reason to pack up for Autumn. Of course the dreaded term "climate change" rears its head in the article too.

Naturally the picture above is not recent, what with Autumn being delayed and all. In fact it was also taken in Canada, to complete the con!

UnidentifiedFish

More fish from the River Lea at Stanborough Park, Welwyn. I'm not great at identifying fish (you seldom see them clearly anyway unless you're an angler) but I reckon these are Dace. Quite slim and sleek, with a large eye compared to the Barbel in my previous post from the same spot, though not quite as big. here's another shot with one of each (I think) Barbel above, Dace below – each perhaps 25cm long. Or maybe I've got three species here in total?

Update: having found a good book on dish with photos, they could easily be Chub instead of Dace.

 

BarbelAndDace

 

HouseSpider2

It's August, and that seems to mean that big brown house spiders are out roaming for mates. It's not uncommon to be sitting watching TV of an evening when something scuttles across the floor in the corner of your vision. It just happened to me, leading to swift capture and ejection via a pint glass and a handy piece of card.

See last year's post on the same topic for the full lowdown on Tegenaria Duellica. And remember, it may look big but it's mostly just legs, and it's not in the slightest bit interested in you.

CanadaGooseAngelWing

The Canada goose pictured above at a local park is afflicted by Angel Wing, which causes the ends of its wings to poke out at an odd (and useless for flying) angle. You may see birds like this in local parks where they're fed by us humans, and one theory is that the disease is caused by that artificial diet, that causes the wrist joints to develop poorly in the young birds. A competing theory is that it is a genetic disease, though in one Swedish experiment, putting an end to feeding resulted in no Angel wing in the next year's offspring which seems quite compelling. Wikipedia tells all, but either way now you know what you're looking at when you see them in the park.

The RSPB's community blog reports on three recent success stories: the fledging of three young Purple herons at Dungeness, Little bitterns at Ham Wall and a Common Crane at Nene Washes. Quite the collection of exotic new bird-life that's now breeding successfully in the UK!

SnailStripey

The BBC reports on the possibility that garden snails have a homing instinct and will return whence they came. So perhaps chucking them over the fence into the neighbour's garden is not enough! This idea comes from a 69 year old gardener who noticed them returning to eat her veg even when she removed them up to 10 metres away. A mass experiment is being arranged via Radio 4 to test the theory.

Personally I suspect that the snails don't home in specifically, but that they wander randomly over a large (e.g. 10 metre) range and hence will tend to find your petunias again eventually. But that's very different to the suggestion that they might make a beeline back to their start point.

It's just bucketed it down here and there are a crazy number of snails cruising across my garden path. Perhaps they're all sprinting back home after the lengthy dry spell?

BarbelInRiverLea

At Stanborough Park in Welwyn Garden City the River Lea runs fast, shallow and clear over a gravel base – and it looks absolutely gorgeous at the moment. You can stand on a bridge in the park and look at shoals of fish below you through the glassy waters. Pictured above is one of the larger specimens – about a foot long – which I think is a Barbel, as evidenced by the overall shape and colouring but particularly the barbels by the mouth. The clue's in the name!