This is the first trip on which we’ve used Wellington boots and they certainly are taking a beating. [Ed: As a Francophile, it’s a shame the Wellingtons didn’t take a beating at Waterloo.] They are certainly very practical given the muddy conditions of many of the forest tracks. I’ve realized a further advantage that could well make them my best friends, too: the streams around here are mostly quite shallow, often with stony beds, and they enable me to wade into them. That ability could well prove useful when stalking Odonata. Last September, at one of our fungus and Odonata spots, we met a local chap on a fungus forage gathering highly prized Ceps (Boletus edulis). He was dressed in a very practical pair of Wellingtons. We had a very pleasant chat and he recommended the use of Wellingtons at all times of the year to protect against Ticks which apparently live in the forest. I don’t think we’ll be using our walking boots here, at all.
After a very light drizzle to start, we once again donned our trusty Wellies and headed back to Tiptoe, this time complete with wildlife lens in search of the uncooperative Grey Wagtail. Naturally, when suitably equipped, the Grey Wagtail was so uncooperative that it didn’t put in an appearance at all. Both yesterday and today, however, we spotted a couple of butterflies – our first of the season. Yesterday we saw a dark butterfly fluttering quite high. I suspect this would have been on over-wintering Peacock (Inachis io), which hibernate and are prone to emerge on sunnier, warmer winter days. March is also the time when Brimstones (Gonepteryx rhamni) would be emerging and it was a pale (female – the males are a quite strong yellow) Brimstone that I think we saw, at a distance, today. Another colourful flutterer got us excited when it settled on the forest track nearby us. It turned out to be an unusually cooperative moth, an Orange Underwing (Archiearis parthenias).
The afternoon was, once again, wall to wall blue sky though much hazier than yesterday. We returned, this time correctly equipped, to the cliff tops of Barton-on-sea in search of parapenters. As we approached, it looked as though the parapenters would emulate the Grey Wagtail and not show up. My fears were unfounded, though, andwe found them a little further along the cliff soaring back and forth. They really do get quite low and close to the cliff edge, on occasion. Today, one of the gliders was a tandem double seat affair, which made for an interesting shot when it was coming in to land. By turning into wind (there’s a windsock perched on the cliff) most of the touchdowns were skilfully light and gentle.