July, so far, at ANR

Small tortoiseshell butterfly posing on the greenery (nettles?). There is a large tortoiseshell butterfly but it is more or less extinct in the UK partly due Dutch Elm disease affecting its preferred food plant.

I took these photographs close to where I spotted the whitethroat chicks on Monday. I’m not sure whether they are of more than one bird or even whether they show adults or juveniles. The mossy, bare branches make an attractive natural perch. PS I am informed by someone from the RSPB (thanks!) via Twitter that it is a juvenile from the dark eye colouration. Adults tend to have more light brown pigment in the eye.

The great crested grebe nest that has attracted a lot of interest lately proved to be empty when I arrived but the family was still in the vicinity. I managed a few distant shots and I can just about make out three black and white chicks on the adults back. This means that all three eggs hatched and the chicks have overcome their first hurdle.

On the same pond as the grebes was a lone Cape ruddy shelduck (left). This rare, South African version has a distinctly darker head than the ordinary ruddy shelduck (right). Neither are seen very often locally.

The term ‘ruddy’ applied in this context refers to the orange/red colouration of this fine looking duck. It is an old word but with an impeccable ancestry. “….. when the Philistine (Goliath) looked about and saw David, he disdained him; for he was but a youth, and ruddy, and of a fair countenance.” 1 Samuel 17:42 King James Bible.

Initially I was somewhat disappointed to realise that the bird singing so sweetly on the highest branch of a hawthorn was a dunnock but the pictures turned out to be quite pleasing. Nearer ground level but also on a hawthorn, a female chaffinch seemed unperturbed by my presence allowing me to get some nice shots.

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