A fairly lousy photo I'm afraid, but it shows quite clearly a pure black rabbit in a garden, along with a more ordinarily coloured version in the foreground. These are both 'wild' rabbits, so I can only presume that the black one is an escaped pet. Apparently it's been around for a while and seems quite happy.

Could it inter-breed with the others, and if so what colour would its progeny be? A quick web search suggests that yes they can inter-breed, depending on the exact species of domestic rabbit. I imagine pet rabbits escape quite often so it's perhaps surprising that we don't see more variation in the colours of rabbits in the wild. But maybe the swift turnover of rabbit populations soon engulfs these oddities and loses their DNA in the wider pool.


I've noticed quite a few butterflies out and about over the last couple of weeks, even amidst the rather changeable weather as we head into autumn. They've been mostly Comma butterflies, so called because of the pale marking on the underside of the wings, that resembles a comma. The linked page contains pictures of that underside so you can see what I mean.

These butterflies can actually be seen as late as November, after which they hibernate in a tree with the wings closed to look like a dead leaf. From above they could be mistaken for many other orangey/black/brown butterflies but the very ragged outline (all the better to look like a dead leaf) is an obvious clue that distinguishes it.

Incidentally, this is another example of detailed insect photography with a 400mm telephoto lens from 6+ feet away (the minimum focus distance for my lens). I find this to be quite a good tactic for butterflies since they're less likely to fly away as you size them up, though frankly I'm post-rationalising as in reality I simply had to make do with what I had on the camera at the time.

We've seen some of the bird life of Clumber park in recent posts, now for a meander through the woodland round the lake.




Another interesting bird photo from Clumber Park. It might not be immediately be obvious, but this Mute swan is having a shake down to throw water from its feathers. You can just see drops of water being flung out if you look very closely. A video might have done it more justice, but that long neck shimmied in a rapidly undulating S shape that was quite a sight.

I believe this is a Willow tit, spotted in Clumber Park, Nottinghamshire – a bird I'm not particularly familiar with. However it could reasonably be a Marsh tit, which is almost identical in most ways except for a slimmer neck, no paler wing panel and a different call, amongst a few other minor differences. I'm not expert enough to tell the difference. Are you?


I've gone for a non-obvious crop for this photo, to make for a more striking and interesting composition and to accentuate the feeling of open blue sky.

Things I've noticed recently:

  • Autumn is drawing in: it's colder, windier and would be wetter too if August hadn't been so atypically rainy!
  • Mushrooms of all types are springing up everywhere.
  • Jays are still fairly evident.
  • Coal tits and greenfinches have been in the garden for the first time in a long time. This is probably specific to my garden mind you.
  • Fruit continues to fall from the trees – many of the apples and damsons in my garden have hit the ground before I managed to pick them.
  • It seems to have been a bit of a bad year for wasps – i.e. I don't remember there being that many about at any point, perhaps due to the weather. Or maybe I've just not got outside as much this summer.
  • The mix of rain, sun and reasonable warmth has meant grass growing at an incredible rate.

The BBC reports on a red squirrel that boarded a boat in Scotland and has been cruising around for a couple of days. It seems that traps will be required to evict it as it hasn't taken the opportunity to leave of its own accord. There doesn't seem to be any speculation that it is cunningly taking advantage of the transport, as pigeons do on the London underground, but more likely it ended up there after being spooked or losing a fight.

Grasshoppers are often quite comically frustrating to catch – always being one leap ahead of your hands. That's if you can lay your eyes on them in the first place, as they tend to go quiet as you get within a couple of metres, and they're very well camouflaged. This one was rather docile though and made life easy, wandering around my decking before it happily climbed onto my fingers to be photographed. It did have the amusing habit of turning to face the sun, which meant that as I turned to try to light it for a good sideways photo, it turned in the opposite direction.

It's a bit hard to be sure, being no expert, but I reckon this is a Common field grasshopper. It seems there's a lot of variation in colour so you need to look at length of wings vs legs, hairiness under the thorax etc.