Monday, 25 May 2009

Monday 25th.May 2009

The plan today , was an early start , over near Dorking , to search for Adonis Blue butterflies . When I pulled back the curtains , that plan went out the window , with grey skies and a cool temperature . Mid morning , a shower confirmed that I had made the right decision , getting on with some chores at home . The grey skies were still around at lunchtime , but the temperature had risen , and a glimpse of sun through thinning cloud , had me setting off for the farm lake , not straying too far , with thunder storms expected .
Slowly but surely , the cloud continued to thin , and with it the atmosphere got very steamy . The sunnier weather brought about an explosion of emergent Damselflies , and several Black Tailed Skimmers . I searched the vegetation around the lake for any late emergents , as they usually emerge early in the morning . Eventually , I did manage to find one Black Tailed Skimmer , still in the process of emerging . In it's larval stage , it would have emerged from the water , and walked up the bank , then climbed this Pendulous Sedge , to begin it's adult life . It had already burst out the top of the thorax of the casing , known as an exuvia , and had started pumping fluid , first into it's thorax , followed by the abdomen and finally the wings .
I left it to it , and had a walk around the lake . When I got back again , the abdomen was nearly fully extended . Now it was time to pump up those wings . At this stage , it is very vulnerable , as the wings are still wet , and it is unable to fly . On my next visit , it had dried it's wing in the sunshine , and had made it's maiden flight , into adjacent trees where it would be safer . This was it's exuvia , and the hole on the top of the thorax , where it forced itself out can be seen . Like Broad Bodied Chasers , Black Tailed Skimmers all emerge in gold and black colouration , regardless of sex . Females will stay gold and black , but the male abdomen will become powder blue , like the Broad Bodied Chasers . More and more were making their first flights , and I found them in low vegetation , and the odd one or two , not managing to make the trees , and collapsing exhausted to the ground . They are easier to photograph at this stage , as adults , they rarely stay still . The large compound eyes , meeting at the top of the head , still need to mature , if it
is going to feed up on flying insect , then if a male , fight to defend it's territory . All that flying power will be generated in the thorax , where the two sets of wings , all four able to operate individually , are attached . Butterflies were few apart from Painted Ladies . Whilst I was at the lake , I recorded 24 , all passing through without stopping , and that was only the ones I noticed .

A female Common Blue , looking a bit worse for wear already , and a Large White and 3 Speckled Woods were also recorded . When the cloud cleared completely , It got really steamy , and that was my pointer to head home .

Carol made a cup of tea and we took it into the garden and sat in the shade . Passing the Miniature Lilac , 3 Painted Ladies flew up , then settled back down to carry on feeding . Over the next hour or so , at least another 2 dozen , either flew straight through or stopped on the Miniature Lilac . Amazing that none stopped on flowers at the farm lake , but several stopped on the Lilac , even though it is passed it's best . At this rate , the number in the country must number in the hundreds of thousands , if not millions . Also visiting the garden at the same time was this Silver Y moth , attracted to one of Carols' Irises .

1 comment:

Phil and Mandy said...

Sounds like a good bank holiday for you then Greenie. Lovely photos again, I have a couple of pics on mine you may be able to help us with. Regards Phil