Saturday, 30 May 2009

Saturday 30th.May 2009

Today's target species was the Adonis Blue butterfly , so an early start to miss the traffic saw me at Denbies Hillside , high above Dorking , shortly after 0830 this morning . This has got to be one of my favourite butterfly sites . I was taken to the site , many years ago , by a couple of old boys I used to go out with every week , and have been going back ever since . This is the view from the far end of the site , looking over Dorking .On arrival , and for most of the morning , I was the only person on the site , and on such a glorious morning , I felt privileged to be there . There was a stiff breeze blowing along the South facing slope , and the morning dew was still lying , and very few butterflies were seen to begin with . One of the first things I found , was my first Bee Orchid of the year , surprisingly in flower . I found another later , but someone/thing , had trampled on it . Also found were large numbers of Fragrant Orchids (pictured) , a couple of Man Orchids and a single White Helleborine . I started to find a few butterflies , and then found my first Adonis Blue , a female , which like many of the Blue species , is brown . The identifying feature is the castellated white/black border , as opposed to the white border of the Common Blue . Soon after , I found the first male , not pristine , as they have been out for a while already . These are part of the first brood , usually quite small in numbers , and later in the year , late July /August , a second , larger brood will hatch . To show that they have been out for some time , this male proves the point . Like the Chalkhill Blue which will emerge before the second brood , the Adonis Blue lays it's eggs on the large amounts of Horseshoe Vetch that grow on the site .
My attention was drawn away from the butterflies , when a 'mewing' was heard overhead , and looking up to the top of the slope , a pair of Common Buzzards came drifting across on the thermals , looking absolutely majestic against the cloudless blue sky . Down in the grass , an old friend , the Cardinal Beetle put in an appearance , and also amongst the grass , Eyebright , so called because it used to be made into a solution to 'make the eyes sparkle' , was also wanting to be seen . Further down the slope I came across a pair of Adonis Blues , with the male with only one thing on his mind . He chased the female from pillar to post , and would not take no for an answer . Eventually , he must have worn her out and joined her on the ground . Within a short period of time , he had his way , and the deed was being done . Whilst photographing this pair , my attention was being constantly dragged to a Yellowhammer in a bit of scrub , constantly telling me that he had 'a little bit of bread , and no cheese' . Further on down the slope , I found two Green Hairstreaks , one of them feeding on the Horeshoe Vetch . Another first for the year was the Burnet Moth , just freshly emerged , and not yet coloured up fully , and also good numbers of Burnet Companion moths , as you would expect , and a single Mother Shipton .
Up in the top corner , a male Kestrel was looking for a meal , hanging on the wind , his head perfectly still . At one point , he did drop to the ground , and seemed to fly off with what could have been a Slow Worm , but I couldn't be sure . Along the top path , and for the second day running , I found a single male Meadow Brown , but this one was happier to pose than yesterday's , even though his wings were not fully inflated . On the top edge against the scrub , Common Rock Rose , the food plant of the Brown Argus , is brightening things up . Readers from last Winter , might remember me posting that the Surrey Group were hedgelaying along the railway line , near Dorking , at the bottom of the Downs . Well , this is the view of our work from the top of the slope . The tall hedge on the left of the shot , this side of the railway line is where we finished this Spring , and will continue this Autumn .
Apart from those posted , 17 other species of birds were recorded , and including the Adonis Blue , 8 species of butterfly . Of note , Butterfly Conservation asked people to do a 2 hour count of Painted Ladies today , but my experience was that the migration is all but over , having only seen 10/12 passing through whilst I was there .

And finally , another moth ID please . Quite a large one , but not willing to come out fully into the open , pity , because it looked colourful .


Josh Jenkins Shaw said...

Great Stuff. I still haven't seen an Adonis blue, after dipping them at Queendown back in August.

Adam said...

Sounds like you had a fantastic day Fred. Thanks for comments on my blog - if only I could still go drinking at lunchtime!!!


John Young said...

Hi Fred, I think your moth is a garden tiger of the form Arctia caja f. prteiburgensis. Good to know that bee orchids are coming out now.

Warren Baker said...

Another packed day for you greenie, just about got it all in this post!