20.12.14.

After waking up feeling a bit unwell, I thought a good walk over Highgate would blow the cobwebs out my system. Only managed a 2 hour walk, but it seemed to work. Feeling much better now. Anyway back to the wildlife I saw today! After seeing my very first Invisible Spider a week or so ago, I managed to see a male and female today. I took my new lens and ring flash, and without the ring flash these photo’s would have been impossible, it was that dark in the wood. So the ring flash looks like a good addition to my kit… IMG_3870 IMG_3871 IMG_3872 I wonder if mankind got the idea for rope from Nature? IMG_3853 Now for the usual birds I see on my walks, but always worth a look…. Coal Tit.. IMG_3854 Blue Tits… IMG_3856 IMG_3857 Great Tit… IMG_3860 Robin… IMG_3858 Chaffinch… IMG_3859 Buzzard… IMG_3861 Mistle Thrush.. IMG_3862 This Slug never opened up, waited ages, but no luck… IMG_3867 The next photo is my best with the new lens. Not good light, but being hand held and how small this fly actually was, I’m quite happy! This is a Heleomyzidae (Tephrochlaena halterata), note its drinking a dirty water droplet… IMG_3863 To show the scale of previous fly photo, this is the same species Heleomyzidae (Tephrochlaena halterata), hiding in the Lichen… IMG_3864

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Flora Highlights 2014

Now for a weak subject of mine…Trees/Plants and Flowers. But I have learnt quite a bit this year! Yet again way to many photos to post all of them, so I’ll keep it short. Also only Identify and Comment when I need too.

Managed to see two Orchids this year…

Top – Pyramidal Orchid

Bottom – Southern Marsh Orchid…

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Found this Fox and Cubs in the meadow doing the Butterfly survey.

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Bilberry…

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Love this flower, reminds me of little lanterns, its called Cross-leaved Heath…

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Quite a lot larger than the usual Dandelion Clock, this is called a Goats Beard….

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Had an education on these next two Rushes. I thought they were the same plant turns out they are different.

Top – Compact Rush with ridges/lines on the stem.

Bottom – Soft Rush with smooth stem….

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Ribwort Plantain…

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Greater Plantain also known as Rats-tail Plantain…

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I think this was my favourite flower I found this year. Its name is Dark Mullein…

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Tufted Vetch (Vicia cracca)…

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Musk Mallow….

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I had heard of the bird Redshank, but never knew there was a plant called Redshank…

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Purple Loosestrife by the lower pool…

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Lovely little flower Hedge Woundwort, but I was told by Adam the Staffordshire Wildlife Trust warden to crush its leaves in the hand, and have a smell. Turns out the smell is vile, like an old Wound…

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and the Smelly Crushed Leaf….

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and finally a couple of special Tree Trunks from Highgate Common…

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Alder Smiling Tree…

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Next time 2014 Highlights of Fungi and Moulds.

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13-12-14

It was a Frosty -3ºC this morning when I arrived on Highgate Common, I do believe the coldest temperature this winter. Unluckily this gave me nothing exciting to photograph with my new Macro Lens. I did take these frosty photos, but on the normal settings on the new lens… IMG_3780 IMG_3781 IMG_3782 Noticed this Blue Tit checking out a Nest Box. This used to happen in my back garden this time of year. They aren’t checking out the possibilty of nesting. They are usually looking for small insects which are sheltering from the cold weather. IMG_3749 Got closer views of the Redpolls today, there still seems around the 50 mark. Love how Redpolls, like a few other birds hang upside down to eat… IMG_3753 IMG_3758 Most of my time today was spent watching a Female Kestrel hunting on Goldie Heath. I was tucked away in the trees, and the Kestrel seemed unaware I was there. I stood perfectly still for about an hour on the frosty grass, and my feet were frozen. Who forgot their thick socks this morning??? The Kestrel flew from tree to tree, and quite close at times. I was preying for either a hover or prey kill in the beautiful light to the North. I didn’t get the hover. But I was really lucky to see her catch some prey in poorer light. The light towards the East was bright and the heath had a frosty mist over the heather, but I think these conditions added to the magical life and death event. Hope you enjoy these Kestrel photos, and it gives you a flavour of my hour of anticipation for these last 3 photos. But without the frozen feet……

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P.S. I think the Kestrel caught a Field Vole, by the look of the shape and its small tail.

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2014 Butterfly Highlights

With the butterfly highlights, I’ve decided to put all the species I managed to photograph. With so many photos, I will do less talking and let the photos speak for themselves.  I will ID species and the odd comment, where I felt there was something to say.

Small Skipper…  

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Large Skipper…

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 Essex Skipper….
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Orange Tip….

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Just loved the Goaty on this Gatekeeper…

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Small White….

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Brimstone…. my 1st good photo of this species.

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Peacock…

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Green Hairstreak, The Caterpillar took me a while to ID, but I did manage to get there eventually!

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Ringlet…

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Not the typical Red Admiral photo, but i quite like this side view.

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Brown Argus, with its figure of eight on the underwing…

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Small Tortoiseshell…

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White Admiral…  (Glad my friend Bob finally got to see one this year)..

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Love this photo of a Comma…

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Green-veined White…

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Meadow Brown…

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Large White, with its pale yellow underwing….

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Took my first ever photos of  Marbled Whites this year. There were several seen this year on the Common, this photo was about my 5th photo, and my 4th I’d spotted..

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This was also a 1st (not the species) but my 1st Purple Hairstreak with its wings open. Shame it was well worn, but thats life…

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Small Copper… loved the dew on the stem of the Willow-herb in this photo…

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My one and only Painted Lady this year…

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Speckled Wood…

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Small Heath…

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Lastly a Common Blue…

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25 species photographed altogether, really pleased with my efforts this year!

Enjoyed posting some of my highlights, its made me realise what a great year of Wildlife I’ve had the pleasure of seeing over Highgate Common.

Next time Plants/Flowers and Tree Highlights!

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Arthropods Highlights 2014

The Arthropods were by far my biggest photographed subject this year. In fact I think if I posted them all I would probably not see the Christmas Holiday. So here are just a few of my best and most interesting ones (well for me).

Loved the beauty of this Dead-nettle Leaf Beetle… IMG_9270 An ambition in 2015 is to see the illusive Bog Bush Cricket. I’ve tried ages to see one. I did manage to see a Speckled Bush Cricket….. Image 4 For me this is a real stunning creature, with that skull shaped head and those eye like orange spots on its back. Its called a Nomada lathburiniana.IMG_8869 Leaf Beetle (Sermylassa halensis)…. photo 2 I think this might be my best macro photos this year (Roll on..next year.. when I should get my Canon MP-E65 f2.8 1-5X Macro lens) This is a Phasia hemiptera…. Image 36 Hornets, these gave me some good photo opportunities this year. Note the SWT Barn Owl nest box being used as a Hornet Nest Box. Found it interesting how they hang off things (in this case a berry) using its legs and wings, while it eats its prey…bottom photo… Image 54 Image 55 Image 127 Image 26 I found this a really interesting subject – 3  Hoverfly Mimics… Top – Volucella bombylans, a Red-tailed Bumblebee Mimic. Middle – Volucella bombylans, a White-tailed Bumblebee Mimic. Bottom – Volucella inansis, a Hornet Mimic. photo 4 photo 4 Image 8 2 species of Longhorn Beetles… Top – Two-banded Longhorn Beetle Bottom – Four-banded Longhorn Beetle… IMG_8847 photo 4 This Small Solitary Bee took ages to ID, but it finally did, its a well worn or ageing MegachileImage 40 An everyday species now, but I’ve never appreciated the beauty of a Common Earwig before. This one was sitting on top of one of the many insect signs on Highgate Common…. Image 30 A little bit rarer than the normal Cardinal beetle, this one is called the Black-headed Cardinal Beetle.. IMG_8832 Really getting into Sawflies now, this species is the Green Sawfly (Rhogogaster viridian)…. IMG_9239 If you have time look this beetle up, and read about its gruesome lifestyle. This one only has 3 mites on it, but they can usually be totally covered with them (Nightmare Stuff). Its called a Sexton Beetle.. photo 3 What a great name for this species of beetle. Its the aptly named  – Thick-legged Flower Beetle… Image 8 Noon Fly… photo 4 This is a very small Sap Beetle… IMG_8868 Finally – not everyones favourite creatures, but here are 2 spider species, both on the Heather. I think they are both Beauties myself…. Top – Orb Weaver Spider (Araneae). Bottom – Spider (Metellina segmentata/mengei)…. Image 26 Image 27 Hope you enjoyed just a small flavour of my Arthropod photos. I know I had many hours of pleasure this year taking them. Next time 2014 Butterfly Highlight

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2014 Odonata Highlights…..

Like Moths this is another subject I could have spent hours posting the many photos i took this year. Firstly I’ll kick off with Common Darters (must have taken 100+ photos of these this year)….. photo 2 Image 77 This was a highlight, my first ever Brown Hawker empty lava case…. photo 5 Not a great photo, but its my first record photo of a Black-tailed Skimmer…. photo 2 Migrant Hawker, another species I seemed to get good numbers of photos of this year… Image 3 The next three photo’s although not the best, mainly because of the situations, e.g. Light and Speed, and also this Numpty getting the wrong camera settings…But I do like these….

Top – Large Red Damselfly and Common Blue Damselfly

Middle – Common Darter and Large Red Damselfly

Bottom – Banded Demoiselle with prey…. photo 5 photo 4 photo 2 Southern Hawker… Image 79 Ruddy Darter…. Image 16 Broad-bodied Chaser…. Image 29 Finally, I think a real highlight, especially since they had not been recorded on Highgate Common for 10 years….The Black Darter…. photo 5 photo 1 Already looking forward to next years Odonata search!

Next Time…2014 Highlights of other Arthropods.

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8.12.14

Only had time for one and half hours over the Common today. But I did manage to find a unidentified new Wasp and a cluster of Vapourer Moth eggs, which was a first for me…..  Vapourer (Orgyia antiqua) Eggs, these were half the size of the Drinker moth eggs I found earlier in the summer….. IMG_3707 IMG_3708 Unidentified Wasp… As soon as I find ID of this Wasp, I will update….. IMG_3715 IMG_3710 Goldfinch and Bullfinch…. IMG_3712 IMG_3716

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