Thursday, August 6, 2009

Memorable moments of the week encompass a great range of wildlife experiences.

Waiting outside the village hall for the Saturday afternoon kids group, a single Buzzard, high under white cumulus, makes a long dive at the ground, dark & compact with wings folded then languidly unfurled to convert momentum into a jetting climb. The updraft from the rocky escarpment behind the village takes it way up into the blue without a beat, before a lazy stalling roll into another roller coaster dive.

This Saturday, we take nets across to a nature reserve to catch butterflies, with Perspex fauna tanks for observation and identification. Even catching common species is a good introduction, each requiring a different strategy to net. Identification requires close comparison with other species, opening a door into the whole colourful world of Butterflies. Common Blue is not so easily tracked in bright sunlight but settles close on low grassland, not difficult to trap, net against the ground. Close comparison with other Blues brings to notice the finest white fringe to delicate blue wings. Dark Meadow Browns on stouter herbaceous plants require more downward pressure to trap. Checking Small White identification fires a determination to look out for Green-Veined White in future. Speckled Woods are the hardest to catch, too busy fighting over a sunbeam shining through the hedgerow to settle.

Tuesday afternoon, despite sea mist and rain, family parties packing up and heading for the cars, umbrellas up, heads bowed against the rain, two lads were keen to go rock-pooling. By the time even they were driven off the beach, we had a record catch of slippery Blennies from under rocks and boulders, one almost the length of the tank, along with dull pink, pie-crust, Edible Crabs large enough for a later check for recipes and minimum sizes.
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