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---------- Winter ----------

With winter fast approaching insect diversity is dropping off and animals that rely on them for their food are beginning to hibernate. Inspite of the damp cold weather there are still some creatures that have evolved to survive in colder temperatures and have adapted their look to survive.

 

The Barred Sallow (above) and the Sallow moth (below) have evolved to match the autumn colours of the leaves of their larval food plant, Beech and Sallow. They fly from September to November except on the coldest nights.

 

 

 

The Feathered Ranunculus flies from late August to early October and can be identified by its delicate greyish green ground colour often dusted with white, grey and sandy brown.

 

The intricate patterning of the Merveille du Jour, should make this moth unmistakeable, this species is a fairly common resident and is usually associated with oak.

 

Another common species over much of the UK is the Herald moth with its distinctive shape and colour. Adults can be found hibernating in outhouses and barns, its larva feed on Willows, Aspen and Poplar.

 

Finally at this time of year the odd vagrant moth can turn up, this delicate moth is a Vestal and they can arrive any time between April and November. The stripe across the wing can be fairly variable, this one is brown but immigrants from the continent will often show a pink cross band.
All photographs copyright Trevor Codlin


---------- Butterflies ----------

And so with summer well and truly upon us, our woodlands become alive with rich and vibrant colours as freshly emerged butterflies search for a mate.

 

The Silver-washed Fritillaries are one of Hampshire's largest and most spectacular Butterflies, they can be found patrolling woodland rides, their strong flight can make them difficult to catch up with but a lush piece of flowering Bramble or Thistle will usually bring them to a halt.

 

By contrast the Large Skipper is one of our smallest butterflies, it can be found in a variety of habitats and is often a common visitor to gardens. Their fast rapid flight is completely opposite to the powerful flight of the Silver-washed Fritillary. Beware also of similar species, Small and Essex Skipper can also be found in Hampshire but these are much smaller.

 

A flash of bright blue will draw your attention to one of the Blue family, this picture is of a Common Blue, the males are bright blue whereas the females tend to be brown with orange marks on the upper wing and a hint of blue towards the body.

 

The Small Tortoiseshell can be found at any time of the year and will even hibernate in an out house or garden shed. One of our commonest species it combines the colours of all the previous species to produce this stunning pattern.

 

The Speckled Wood however goes for a more subtle approach by using brown and cream to help it blend in with it's woodland surroundings. They can often be very approachable as they seek out the warmth of the sun as it penetrates the tree canopy.
If you would like to know more about Britain's Butterflies or help to conserve them, check out www.butterfly-conservation.org. All photographs copyright Trevor Codlin


---------- Spring is in the air... apparently ----------

In spite of our lovely British weather doing its best to make it feel like winter, there is clear evidence to prove that spring is in fact actually here. New growth is the first sign that something is happening with a delicate array of flowers steadily emerging. The subtle, fresh green leaves and stems carpet the woodland floor before a beautiful combination of pastel yellows, dark pink and pure white appear.

 

The pale yellow of the Wild Primrose is one of the first spring flowers to appear, clusters cover sunny verges and woodland glades, occasionally pale pink coloured ones grow to add a touch of variety.
Below, the Dead-nettle family are some of my favourite flowers, as their leaves emerge they could be confused with the stinging nettle, but their beautiful flowers soon confirm their true identity. This species is the Red Dead nettle its intricate flowers are not that dissimilar to an orchid in design. The brilliant white flowers of the Greater Stitchwort illuminate woodland rides; this is a common and widespread plant that can be easily overlooked until its flowers come out.


 Red Dead Nettle

  Greater Stitchwort

Once a rare sight in Hampshire, the Common Buzzard has now established itself firmly as a breeding species. Their distinctive mewing call can be heard as they soar effortlessly in the sky above.

 

The Robin is one of the most popular of our garden birds offering a helpful beak around the garden, often becoming so tame that they will take food from a friendly hand. Robins are a very vocal species singing throughout the year, but it is the arrival of spring that will see them singing during the day and night.

 

They say that one Swallow doesn't make a summer but for me the first Swallow of the year is a clear indication that the dreary days of winter are behind us, although the cold winds that we have been having lately may make that hard to believe. Their delicate twittering call is uttered as they perform aerobatics overhead, whilst perched on a convenient telegraph pole. Photographs copyright - Trevor Codlin


----------------------------------- Winter Waders 2005 ----------------------------------

Coastal beaches and estuaries provide a wealth of food for wading birds visiting our shores during the winter. The numbers of birds present can run into thousands and the variety of species can keep the birdwatcher entertained for hours.

 

The Curlew is one of our largest species of wader and has a very long down curved bill, their distinctive warbling call can be heard from a great distance giving marshlands an eerie feel. They probe deep into the mud to collect rag worms and other invertebrates and can often be seen in large flocks on wet fields.

 

Sanderling are the athletes of the wading world running up and down just in front of the waves collecting food exposed by the water. Their short bills are designed for picking up things from the surface after the wash of the sea has exposed them. They are usually associated with sandy shores but can turn up anywhere along the coast during migration.

 

Turnstone are so called because they feed by literally turning over stones and picking up titbits along the foreshore. Large flocks can be seen milling around on shingle beaches as they feed. They have a fairly distinctive plumage of dark brown and black above with pure white below.

 

The Dunlin prefer the softer mud of estuaries like the curlew, they will also probe beneath the surface for food, but with a bill approximately an inch long they do not compete for food. Large flocks of several thousand winter around our coasts, as the tide begins to force them in to roost these can be heard chattering noisily.

 

The Ringed Plover has a distinctive black collar, pale brown above and white underneath with bright orange legs. They also have a short bill designed for picking up food from the surface. As they feed they run in short bursts then stop and look before bending down to pick up prey.

 

This is just a selection of the variety of waders that frequent the south coast of England, many wintering in nationally important numbers. The Solent Shorebird study group has been carrying out research on wintering waders for many years now, with hundreds of birds being colour marked. If you see a colour-ringed bird please report it to Hampshirecam with your details and I will forward it to the respective people. This Greenshank used to spend its winters along the river Hamble or the coast along at Warsash; it unfortunately came to an untimely end when it was shot by a Russian scientist near the White Sea in northern Russia. Although sad, this was the first recorded sighting of a British ringed Greenshank in that area. Photographs copyright - Trevor Codlin


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All Photographs Copyright Trevor Codlin 2002 - 2005