Monday, 29 June 2009

Monday 29th.June 2009

It's been niggling away all weekend . Was that positively a Silver Washed Fritillary that I saw at High Elms last Friday ? The only way to find out was to go back , now that things have returned to normal in the area .
I decided that whilst there , I would do the full two and a half hour butterfly transect , and so , put plenty of water in the car before setting off . It was obvious right from the start , that there had been an explosion in the number of Meadow Brown and Ringlet on the wing . Every blade of grass seemed to have one of either species on it , but by far and away the most productive areas were those that were not cut last Autumn . Having found Marbled Whites on Burnt Gorse last week , it was good to find 3 more here , well away from the originals . The main Conservation field , with the exception of a small area at the Cuckoo Wood car park end , was cut by tractor/mower , and the small area won hands down on numbers recorded . By the time I got to that area , it was good to get into shaded woodland , as the temperature was creeping relentlessly upwards . Along the track towards Burnt Gorse , I stopped to check on the 2 Violet Helleborines , and I'm glad to say they are doing very well , with the first found one beginning to unfurl it's flower head . Along the edges of the paths , the enchantingly named , Enchanter's Nightshade is in flower , a delicate little plant . Before dropping down to Burnt Gorse , I checked the small glade , at the far end of which , I had Friday's sighting . As soon as I got to the first Bramble patch , the unmistakable flash of large orange wings , confirmed that the Silver Washed Fritillaries are on the wing again . I didn't manage a shot of this specimen , as it had a quick check of the Bramble flowers , and swiftly moved on . At the end of the glade , there was no sign . I headed for the Orchid Bank , and immediately had another patrolling the unfenced area , where hopefully the White Letter Hairstreaks will appear soon . Another clearing , adjacent to where I recorded egg laying last year , produced 4 males , 3 in combat with each other , even though no females were seen , and the fourth , looking as if it had just emerged , was nectaring on Bramble flower . The diagnostic feature for the male are the 4 dark bars across the wings . Moving on to the glade where the majority of the egg laying was recorded , another 2 males were found . One seemed to think that the whole glade belonged to him , and drove off the other every time he entered it . Having driven off the other , the first then took up position on a branch , overlooking the area . On one return , he settled just in the right position to show clearly how he gets his name , as if someone had 'washed' the underwing with silver . Apart from good numbers of Small Skipper , Burnt Gorse didn't produce any surprises . At the far end , where it joins with Hang Grove , two members of the Mullein family were found . The first , Great Mullein , also known as Aaron's Rod , and , within a couple of metres of it , the less common White Mullein .
A favourite of mine , Vervain , was also found , and whilst checking up on it , found that it is the only British member of the Verbena family , which is a mainly tropical family , that also includes the huge Teak trees of tropical forests .
The full transect results were , Meadow Brown (378) , Ringlet (224) , Small Skipper (27) , Marbled White (6) , Comma (8) , Large Skipper (4) , Silver Washed Fritillary (conservative 12/15) , Small White (1) , Common Blue (1) , Speckled Wood (8) , Brimstone (2) and Red Admiral (1) .
Although the number of Burnet Companion , day flying moths , have reduced greatly , the Six spot Burnet moths were found in good numbers . The only birds of note found , were 2 juvenile Green Woodpeckers , Common Whitethroat , Blackcap and Chiffchaff . Blackbirds were very vocal , perhaps it's because they only have another couple of weeks or so before they stop singing . Carol read an article a couple of weeks ago , that they stop singing by 17th. July , we''ll see . I can't remember whether I have posted it before , but the pappus of the Goatsbeard- Jack -go-to-bed-at-noon , is truly a work of art in my mind .


Warren Baker said...

It was a hot one today Greenie, good butterfly weather. I had a go at finding a few myself today, but the only ones seen in your recorded numbers were Comma's

Ken Browne. said...

Hi Greenie.
Lovely photo's of the Silver Washed Fritillary, and the 6 Spotted Burnet Moth.