Sparrowhawk and rabbit, a poorly fox, racing pigeon and more.
It was all over in a few blurry frames of video and there was a Sparrow-hawk catching a young rabbit ‘kitten’ (image 1). As the hawk started to fly off it was attacked by an adult rabbit. The hawk dropped the kitten and the adult rabbit chased its kitten up to the safety of the hedge. The ‘kitten’ being a baby decided to run off in the opposite direction and was chased back by the adult into the hedge. Lucky ‘kitten’ but shame for the hawk which had lost its meal.
We have had the odd passing badger and roe deer and the most recent large mammal was this rather thin and poorly Fox (image 2). We did put some food and water out for it, but never saw it again.
People in Petersfield have been recording Humming-bird Hawk-moths Macroglossum stellatarum recently and a few days ago we saw one hovering on the last of our buddleia flowers although the moth had gone by the time I had grabbed the camera. However, down on the lawn below the bush was a rather tame pigeon (image 3). The pigeon had been ringed and Mary threw a blanket over it and we were able to read the owners telephone and ring numbers. The bird was a Racing Pigeon en-route from Littlehampton to Bath and had somehow lost its way. Mary contacted its owner who collected it the next day and returned it back to Bath (in a van)
Our garden Grass Snake has increased in size since it shed its skin (image 4) and we still see a Frog from time to time in or around the pond (image 5). Dragonflies continue to emerge from the pond leaving their dried ‘exuvial’ larval skins behind on the pondside vegetation.
The dry weather has meant that flowering plants have not been producing much nectar and so our butterflies, bees and hoverflies have been having a hard time. A splendid newly emerged Small Tortoiseshell butterfly did land on our hedge and stayed long enough for a picture (image 6). This would have been a second brood butterfly and looking for nectar to stock up ready for hibernation.
More common in the wooded end of our garden have been Speckled Wood butterflies. We watch the territorial male butterflies as they flit about in the narrow beams of sunlight that shine down through the hazel and willow canopy. They are looking for females while attacking other males in spectacular upward spiralling flights before settling on sunlit leaves and logs ready to attack the next male that comes along (image 7). Unlike most other butterflies, speckled wood butterflies feed on aphid honeydew high up in the tree canopy and so are not dependent on nectar producing flowers.
The rather fine butterfly-like Jersey Tiger moth Euplagia quadripunctata was first found as a migrant on the Isle of Wight in 1935 but not seen again in Hampshire until 1987. Now this species is often found along the UK Southwest coast and, in Hampshire, can be common on the Isle of Wight and the New Forest and is spreading occasionally north up to Basingstoke, east across Surrey, and around London (where they may have been introduced). However, the Hampshire distribution map shows a large hole around the Petersfield area and so I was very pleased to at last find a Jersey Tiger in our Stroud moth trap (image 8). Another spectacular moth is the Poplar Hawk-moth Laothoe populi which is much more common in our village. This moth (image 9) was attracted to light around our moth trap and landed on our shed wall. They differ from other hawk moths in settling with their hind wings forward from their front wings.
Those Black Knapweed flowers in the garden that have not completely shrivelled have been visited by Honey Bees and also this Megachile sp. Patchwork Leaf-cutter bee (image 10). These solitary bees (with an orange ‘pollen brush’ on the underside of their abdomen) cut the little circles out of rose leaves and make their nests in small holes and in bee hotels (although not ours this year).
While on a visit to Alton and walking around the redeveloping Coors brewery site (and with a sideways glance at any flowery verge) I spotted this large wasp mimic hoverfly Volucella inanis and which is sometimes called the Wasp Plume-horn because of its appearance and its plumed antennae (image 11). Eggs are laid in the nests of social wasps where the larvae predate the wasp larvae. Being a hoverfly it is harmless to us humans.