Return to Skiathos

Well barely as I arrived back and it was time to go again…I seem like a right gad about but, this one had been planned for some time.
The Dragonflies and Butterflies in June are amazing so I had a wonderful time with my macro:

Last time, I only managed one very distant shot of a Goldenring dragonfly and I was pleased to have the opportunity to capture several this time.

Butterflies were plentiful and I like the light showing through the wings of this Cleopatra, showing off that lovely orange colour. I was lucky enough to have a couple of firsts too one of which was my first Large Tortoiseshell.

A closer look at a Silver Washed Fritillary:

As always there were an amazing array of other insects and I liked this Long Horn Beetle (strangalia maculata):

Although it was very distant, I had my first glimpse of a Blue Rock Thrush:

I also had the experience of seeing yet another Ant Lion, this one is Nemoptera sinuata:

Of course, there was also plenty of walking, beaches and lovely food. I will leave you with this shot of Kastro and gather together some more scenery for my next post 🙂

Skiathos in Springtime

As you may I have gathered by my lack of posts, I have been missing for a short while. It was somewhat spur of the moment but, the flights to Skiathos went down to a very good price and then my kind friend Yvonne invited me to stay for a week. Yvonne normally runs painting classes on the island but, is taking a break this year. Her blog is here and is a fascinating account of arts and culture of the island. Anyway, I jumped at the chance, who can resist an offer like that? I intended to go and paint too but, seeing the island so fresh and with so few tourists, I just had to go and explore. I did just have a tiny dabble one of the days….. this little watercolour sketch which was the view from my room.

I spent many happy hours sitting on this step. Every morning I watched a hornet come and peel a little bit of wood from one of the posts, roll it up very carefully and then fly off back to his nest. The birds became familiar with Great tits arriving in the morning and Goldfinches in the afternoon. On the flowers in the foreground, the Meadow brown butterflies danced all day.

Skiathos is a busy tourist destination and although you can find quiet places to visit even in high season, I was amazed to find myself walking down empty beaches. The sea is normally very calm in summer but, because they were experiencing a few storms after some lovely weather the week before, the sea was wild and beautiful.

The birdwatching was the best I have experienced. I was lucky enough to see Night Heron, Olivaceous Warbler, Temminck’s Stint to name but a few. I also finally managed to capture on camera a Male Red Backed Shrike which has been a mission for a couple of years!

Wild flowers were abundant and so fresh!

There were plenty of butterflies and I saw one or two to add to my ever-growing list on the island. I had brief glimpses of Two Tailed Pasha, Scarce Swallowtail and Cleopatra. The tiny little ones were starting to emerge and also a large Blue butterfly that I am unfamiliar with. Sadly no photo’s of these!I did get some nice shots of some fresh Mallow Skippers, such tiny little things:

and the very beautiful Southern White Admiral.

The dragonflies were emerging on a daily basis which provided hours of fun with my macro.

Finally, I have wanted to meet a gentleman who lives on the island for some time. Vasilis Korallis takes town and nature walks which run from Skiathos town. It was so lovely to finally meet him and get a copy of his book which has wonderful walks and is written with delightful humour. It is rare to read a reference type book and find yourself laughing out loud. I recommend it highly, further information can be found on Skiathorama. Incidentally, this new site is a project by some more friends on the island and is a wonderful site covering the flowers, nature, culture and artists of the island. Do take a look around while you are there. You will also find one or two of my photo’s 😉
Many, many thanks once again to Yvonne once again for her generosity in sharing her beautiful corner of Skiathos and providing me with an opportunity to discover more delights of my favourite Greek Island.

*Whispers, I will be back again soon………..*

Moving into May

Although, it doesn’t really feel too much warmer. However, there are plenty of new arrivals. Last week I saw the first swallows and this week the first swifts. The recent weather has meant that for much of this week, we have had flood alerts here in Shropshire. The River Severn is very high right now so after a winter where it was below normal levels, in the image it is well above. Normally you can walk under this bit of the bridge.

The butterflies that I would expect to see by now are still absent and the Orange Tips are the only one that I have seen in any number. This one very kindly posed for me in the garden.

But, an old friend did materialise on a trip out over the weekend. This is the first damsel that I have spotted for the year, newly emerged, a week later than the first spotted last year.

On the same trip, we also saw two Mistle Thrushes hunting for worms.

The bluebells are now in full flower:

Whereas, these Ramsons flowered only this week:

Have a great week!

The Birds & the Flowers

I am afraid that right now the poor bees don’t get a look in, although I have seen a few dodging the rain here and there. The rainy week has also seen very reduced numbers of butterflies. The good thing is that the plants and trees are loving it and everything has turned green as if by magic. The bluebells are blooming in the local woods, the scent is beautiful right now when walking though the glade.

Some of our summer visitors have arrived and being lucky enough to live by a small coppice, I get the opportunity to watch them at quite close quarters. There are several pairs of Chiffchaffs and I have watched the female scurrying around and building the most wonderful nest as Mr Chiffchaff sings loudly up in the tree.

We have several Common Buzzards up on the Hermitage. As soon as the clouds break, you can see them soaring above our house. Normally they are by far too high to get a decent image but, the other day they were being harassed by the Crows. If you are looking in from across the pond, I am pretty certain that you don’t get these over there but, they are a lot like some of your Hawks. I even managed to catch him in a little blue sky 😀

About, two years ago, I did used to see a very occasional rabbit up there. But, it was very rare! Now they seem to be making a comeback and instead we have a lack of Grey Squirrels. I am not certain why, nature has a strange way of evolving when left to itself.

Along with the season, it has also been terribly windy. I had to smile at this little one sitting on a garden fence getting a little bedraggled!

A lot of the wild flowers in the meadow are common, it is always nice to see the return of them. The first daisy, the first dandelion or in the case the first buttercup. I see them all emerge and know that the butterflies and moths that like each plant will follow.

Have a lovely weekend 🙂

Freshly Pressed ~ Thank You

I am still somewhat stunned that I have been Freshly Pressed and even more so by the number of comments ~ so many thanks to the WordPress team and everyone who has commented and liked my post(s). I am trying to answer everyone and failing miserably at the minute. However, I will get there eventually and hopefully also get around to visiting a few blogs too!
I offer up just a little more yellow as a thank you to you all in the meantime…

….and it was all Yellow

Actually it has been a very wet rainy day here in Shropshire and so to brighten the day, I am choosing some of my most recent “Yellow” photographs. Besides, this one should be bright and cheery, it is my 100th blog post! I always think that colours seem to change throughout the year and often become predominantly one whether this is due to nature or man-made. The daffodils have all but finished now but, these Narcissus have been brightening up my days this week from a neighbour’s garden.

Whilst in our own garden, the birds have been the most active on out feeder that I have seen for ages. They all look very smart in Spring I think. No doubt they will look a little more ruffled at the end of the breeding season.

Meanwhile, a little further afield and the first primroses are blooming in the woods and on the grass verges.

For miles around we can see bright yellow fields of rapeseed for oil.

The first Yellow Wagtails are arriving and looking around the hedgerows and you can spot the Yellow Hammers dive to the ground as you drive past.

Finally, for the house I bought some Yellow Chrysanthemums, it cheers it up whilst it is raining!

Have a great weekend!

The Nature of April

The nature of April here in the UK is showers! Despite an earlier warm week and some area’s of the UK experiencing drought conditions, here in Shropshire April has been pretty much as it usually is. It heralds the return of many old friends which I delight in seeing again. After several months of catching a rare glimpse of a butterfly, lots of insects emerge, the sound of the Chiffchaff is heard on their return from Africa and the first Spring flowers appear like magic.

Wood Sorrel

Different birds seem to be arriving daily and this week, I saw my first Swallow.

Despite the showers we have been out and about watching and listening to the new arrivals. The butterflies arrived very early on the South Coast but here in the Midlands my first spot of Speckled Woods was actually a few days later than last year. On the same day I caught the first glimpse of a Brimstone and Orange Tip. I normally have to wait a while for my first image of an Orange tip, they fly at an incredible rate. However, down by the river on Sunday, one rested a while under cloudy skies.

A little patience waiting for the cloud to move over was rewarded:

A little further afield just into Staffordshire on Saturday and this was the first Green Veined White:

Almost on cue, I spotted the first glimpses of the Cuckoo flower or Ladies Smock which is a favourite of both of these butterflies. It always fascinates me how nature know the right time!

Meanwhile, we have a pair of Robins feeding each other in the garden. How I would love to get a picture. For such a feisty bird, they are so gentle with each other!

Badger Dingle

On a very rainy Sunday, I thought I would put up a few images of a brighter one.

Badger is a small village in Shropshire quite near to us. It was a good opportunity to take some landscape shots which have not featured too highly of late.

The greenery at this time of year is still a little sparse so I think it would be nice to revisit with some leafy canopies too but, for now it was a lovely opportunity to try out those soft water techniques using a slow shutter speed.

I also love to practice breaking the rules by shooting into the sun. This one was probably my favourite out of many. The recycle bin rate of these type of shots is very high for me!