Sunday, 17 May 2009

Sunday 17th.May 2009

We have had some really heavy rain today , almost torrential at times . What with that and other commitments , I only managed an hour out after lunch .
Speaking of which , as I sat eating my sandwich , I happened to glance down the garden , and saw something 'flop' into the minature Lilac beyond the patio . A leaf or some other debris I thought , blown in by the gusty wind , in an otherwise sunny spell , just after one of the torrential showers . I carried on with my lunch , but was sure something was moving in the Lilac . I had to go and have a look . I didn't see anything at first , but then another movement , even though the wings were closed , had me dashing back in again for the camera . Just like yesterday , it wasn't a leaf , but another Painted Lady . Not surprising that it landed here as this Lilac fills the surrounding area with scent , and scent means nectar , and it immediately started feeding , the proboscis deep in the flower in the picture above . The gusty wind made it fly off several times , but each time it was drawn back by the scent of the Lilac . These butterflies are migrants , and these early specimens are probably from North Africa . The sad thing is that each year these butterflies arrive here , mate , and it is thought that the whole British population , which extends all the way up to Orkney and Shetland , dies out each Winter , because they cannot stand the wet and the cold . So each year , we depend on more migrants in the following Spring .
I left it to feed up after it's epic journey , and headed for Spring Park Pond , hoping that the sun would stay out for my visit . It was cool around the pond , as it was not protected from the wind , so I headed for the small meadow again . There , there was some protection , but only found one Large White , nectaring on Greater Stitchwort . The brambly area where I found the Broad Bodied Chaser on my last visit seemed quiet , so went around the back , where it was a bit more sheltered . The first little pocket in the bramble had a pair , queueing up to be photographed , and as can be seen , the one on the left is in the process of getting his adult male colouration . All immature Broad Bodied Chasers emerge a golden/yellow colour , and as they mature , the abdomens of females turn a browny/gold , and the abdomen of males , a powder blue . This is why it can be really tricky at this time of year to identify sex , or even species in some cases . In a short period of time , the male abdomen will be all powder blue , and any problems go away .
With the sun still out , occasionally , I spent the last half hour at the farm lake . The first thing noticed was that the female Mallard now only has four ducklings . The wind was whipping across the water , and only one corner of the lake produced any Damselflies . A few Large Red , the odd Azure (pictured) and the odd teneral Blue Tailed . Another example of difficulty identifying teneral , or freshly emerged Damselflies , was this one ,

with a pinkish hue , it would be easy to say Large Red Damselfly , but looking at the first segment of the abdomen , the 'golf ball on tee' marking , identifies it as a Common Blue , and the all the same colour segments 8 & 9 confirm it . Once again , butterflies were at a premium , as I only found one Common Blue , tucked away in the grass , and a single Green Veined White flew by at a rate of knots on the wind . The wind also disturbed another day flying moth , the Cinnabar Moth , one of the more colourful species , being charcoal and red . It soon tucked itself away again in the waterside vegetation . This species lays it's egg on Ragwort , and the yellow and black ringed caterpillars will be seen later in the year . The clouds were building again , and the sight of 20/25 Swifts , and several Swallows hawking high over the lake , often the sign of impending rain . I made my way home , and within minutes , the heavens opened again , and it is still raining now . Why can't someone train hirondine to do the weather forecast ?


Warren Baker said...

Not a bad hour had there greenie. I didn't know about the chasers being the same colour when immature, thanks for that snippet.

as for the weather....well we have enough stupid birds doing the presentation already!

Phil and Mandy said...

Love the Common Blue photo, a gorgeous looking butterfly.

Simon said...

Some lovely photos Greenie. I had a Painted Lady butterfly at Tudeley RSPB on Friday.