Friday, 22 August 2008

Friday 22nd.August 2008

Couldn't make my mind up this morning as to what to do or where to go , given the somewhat uncertain weather forecast . Finally decided to try again for Silver Spotted Skipper , Adonis Blue and Brown Hairstreak , but reversing the order of site visit from last time , when I came up with
0 out of 3 .
Steers Field , near Dorking was my first stop , and as usual , as I arrived , the sun went in , and a mass of grey cloud was being blown in on a gentle breeze . But , although it meant that few butterflies were on the wing , the warmest place under the cloud , was the path , warmed up whilst the sun was out , and now being used by about ten Silver Spotted Skippers . After about 20 minutes , the sun came out again , and they all left the path to feed . Anyone who has tried to photograph SSS whilst the sun is out will tell you , they lead you a merry dance . Eventually , I managed to get a few shots , away from the path . The underwing really shows how they get their name .
The sun also got the Adonis Blues on the wing , and it was surprising how many of this second brood had already recieved wing damage so early in their flight . The male is a stunning blue ,
with a castleated or chequered border . The female , like all the Blues is a dull brown .
I thought I was going to get a shot of this one mating , but after about 3/4 minutes of trying , the male gave up and went to try his luck elsewhere . The Adonis is much more vividly coloured than the Chalkhill Blue , as this shot shows , with the Adonis bottom right . I was hoping that they would get closer for a better comparison , but when they did , they both landed on
'turdus caninus' , of which there is quite a lot here , but all the Blues seem to take something from it , probably minerals . Anyway , I declined from photographing the pair with that as a background . The normal underwing of the Adonis Blue is shown here , but whilst at Steers Field , I found one individual with many of the spots missing from his underwing . I think this is called abbaration , and some people look just for this sort of thing in all species of butterfly .
By far the largest species present was Chalkhill Blue , with plenty of females showing . Still plenty of Meadow Brown , a few Large and Small Whites were seen , but no repeat of the Painted Lady from last visit , nor a hopefull Clouded Yellow .
As I left , the clouds started rolling in again , and I started wondering if it was worth while visiting the other site near Crawley . This is the view looking across Westcott towards Leith Hill tower , and as you can see the weather was on the turn . On a clear day , just left of the shot , you can see the planes landing and taking off at Gatwick .
I decided that as I was this far , I would visit the second site , and once again arrived under cloud . I walked to the place where I thought I saw a Brown Hairstreak , high up on my last visit . Nothing . I had a good look round , and slowly the clouds became lighter . After another 10 minutes , blue sky . Still nothing . Then a movement in the Blackthorn bushes , high up . Through the binoculars I made out a female Brown Hairstreak , sunning herself , but no chance of a photo . The South facing glade , protected from the breeze , really warmed up , when I noticed a bird of prey , high up on the thermals . I took this shot , not very good , but it was right overhead , and difficult to focus on it . I'm pretty sure it's a Common Buzzard , but I know it will be corrected if I am wrong .
Back to butterfly watch , and a flutter along the bushes a bit and a flash of orange. I crept up to it , and low and behold , a female Brown Hairstreak . Over the next 3/4 minutes , I saw and got shots of two other females , and I think I had two males in the Ash tree , high up , just like the Common . Just before this time spell finished , one of the females landed right alongside the path , which enabled me to get some shots of the underwing . The female BH is more colourfull than the male , bucking the trend of most of nature . Once that time spell finished , I didn't get another glimpse , and after half an hour , made my way home , very contented , especially seeing as I am 'grounded' tomorrow , we're hosting a family barbeque .


John Young said...

Hi Fred, nice post and glad you managed to get to photo the brown hairstreak. Not a species that I have seen before. I'd agree with you on the buzzard id.

Steve said...

Some very good sightings Fred - like John I have never seen Brown Hairstreak.