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Thursday, December 30, 2010

English Spring

Well, 2010 is almost over and it seems I've not posted since December last year. So, in the nick of time, here are my contributions for the year - derived entirely from a spring visit to England in April. One of the highlights was Samphire Hoe in Kent. This site, created from the material dug out during construction of the Channel Tunnel, now supports a large colony of Early Spider Orchids (above).

Another Early Spider Orchid.

Minsmere RSPB Reserve in Suffolk, a gem. There's no better time to visit than Spring. The raucous din from hundreds of breeding Black-headed Gulls is a beautiful thing.

Courting Black-headed Gulls.

Black-tailed Godwit on the saline lagoon known as The Scrape at Minsmere.

Dunlins attaining their summer dress on The Scrape.

This is a Large Bee Fly (Bombylius major).Their visual mimicry allows them to closely approach the nests of bees and wasps, without being attacked, in order to lay their eggs. Once the larvae hatch they proceed to feed on the host insect's grubs.

As is often the case when visiting familiar and cherished places after a long absence, I found myself deeply affected by hearing the songs of even quite common birds. Not least among which were Willow Warbler (above) and Chiffchaff (below). These two species of Phylloscopus warbler are pretty similar in appearance; the Chiffchaff tends to be overall browner, while Willows are paler with more green and yellow hues. However, their songs are completely different and form the backdrop for almost any outing to the English countryside during their brief summer stays.