The first target species was the Small Pearl Bordered Fritillary , so another early start to beat the traffic , had me heading for the depths of East Sussex , to a site managed by Butterfly Conservation . The temperature was showing 18C. when I arrived , having also left early to get on site before things started heating up . I was the only person there , and so it stayed until the last 5 minutes of my 2 hour stay , when two couples arrived . This species is notoriously awkward to photograph , especially when it is warm , as the males hardly ever stop still , continually searching low in the vegetation for females . For the first 10/15 minutes I didn't see a single specimen , but was treated to uninterrupted song from Willow Warbler , Garden Warbler Chiffchaff and Blackcap . Looking around I found several refugia , and I couldn't walk past without having a look . The first one I turned over had a male and female Adder underneath , he was in no hurry to leave , but she disappeared before I could take a shot . All the others had nothing until I returned to this one just before leaving , but I'll come to that later .
Shortly afterwards , I spotted the first Small Pearl Bordered Fritillary , nectaring on Bluebells . Well , at least they are out I thought . It was a little while before spotting another , and in that time , I found a pair of Speckled Yellow moths mating . There were large numbers of this species on the wing , along with Silver Y , and lots of small ones that just disappeared into the vegetation . I then started getting the idea of waiting near a Bramble in flower , for the butterflies to come and refuel . Well it worked , and I soon had a good top and under wing shot .The underwing shot shows how the butterfly gets part of it's name , with the seven 'pearls' along the outer edge of the hindwing . Small obviously from it's size compared to it's relation the Pearl Bordered Fritillary . The topwings of both species are very similar , but the underwings are different . The best field guide is that the 'pearls' are framed with black chevrons in the Small , as seen above , whereas the chevrons are red on the PBF .
A large bird in the distance caught my eye , and as it drifted over , could be identified as a Common Buzzard . I've done really well with those I thought to myself . Next time I looked up there were two , playing on the thermals . I got behind some scrub and willed them to drift over towards me , rather than the fields beyond the reserve . They did come closer , but not as close as I would have liked . Other birds heard/seen during the visit were Chaffinch , Long Tailed and Coal Tit and Nuthatch .
As well as the SPBFs , I recorded Painted Lady , Brimstone -egglaying on Buckthorn , a very smart looking Grizzled Skipper , and still one or two Green Hairstreaks , looking a bit worse for wear now . As there is a pond on the site , there were good numbers of Dragonflies about . Mostly Broad Bodied Chasers , but there were also plenty of Black Tailed Skimmers and a couple of Emperors as well .
Now , back to that refugia . Before leaving , I went back for one last look , as it was the only productive turn over . When I turned it for the second time , I couldn't believe my eyes . The male I had seen earlier was still there , but joined by a Black Adder . This is the first one that I have ever seen in real life , having seen pictures of them before . Melanistic is the proper term , and although the black zig-zag is obscured , it is never completely absent . I managed to get a few shots before he disappeared as well .
Tomorrow , Mt.Caburn and the search for Early Burnt Orchid .