Saturday, 13 June 2009

Saturday 13th.June 2009

A return visit to Ashdown Forest , with two target species , was the trip for today . The first species , a butterfly with specific habitat requirements and a symbiotic relationship , like many of the Blues with ants , is the Silver-studded Blue . I remember posting a visit late last Summer looking for , but not finding them . As I approached the site this morning , I thought that it would be the same result again , as any sunny periods seemed to close as soon as I got out of the car . Passing a couple of heathland ponds on the way to the site and not finding any Damsel/Dragonflies didn't bode well either . At the site , surprisingly there were several Common Heath and Speckled Yellow moths on the wing , and I also managed to find a single male Large Skipper butterfly , well down in the heather , keeping out of the wind . It was whilst I
was photographing some Common Sundew , that I noticed a more colourful butterfly in the distance , and chased it down . I'm glad to say that it was the species I was looking for , a pristine , freshly emerged male , Silver-studded Blue . The male can easily be confused with the male Common Blue from the topwing , but the thick black borders to the wings are diagnostic . The underwing shows how it gets it's name , more noticeable in the female , the black dots ,right of the orange ones have an infill of blue , thus Silver-studded , best seen on the lowest large black spot . The female shows them much better , but they don't seem to have emerged yet . I only found 2 males in about an hour's search , so another visit in the near future is on the cards . With one target under the belt , I headed for Old Lodge Reserve , managed by Sussex Wildlife Trust , still without much sunshine . As soon as I went through the gate onto the Reserve , I had Great Spotted Woodpecker (2) , Cuckoo-calling , Willow Warbler (2) , Woodlark - out of the grass in front of me , and a pair of Stonechats , which once again , I managed to get both in the same shot . Tree Pipits were singing all over the place , and after this shot , this one proceeded to do his 'parachute' display . The top path , where I hoped to get the other target species , had plenty of song , but not the one that I wanted . I headed down the slope , towards a couple of pools , and on one , I found a Four Spotted Chaser , sitting quietly on emergent vegetation . That was until another two males came in , and WW3 started . In the same area , I found my first specimens of the year of Heath Spotted Orchid . I'm sure there were lots more last year , but there are 10/15 horses grazing the site , and I'm sure they would find them a tasty morsel . Quite a pale colour compared to a lot of Orchids , but still nice to see . My attention was distracted to a male Cuckoo , that perched on the cables that cross the site . I tried to get close to him , but every time I closed the gap by 10 mtrs. , he flew 10 mtrs. further along the wires . This was the closest I got before he flew off to the woodland . Not far away , I got good views , with binoculars of Spotted Flycatcher , but not close enough for a shot . I was beginning to despair of the second target species , when I heard calls , not unlike the 'two stones being knocked together' of the Blackcap . When I tracked it down , it was a family party of Redstarts , my second target species . A very smart male , a female and three youngsters . The adults were very active , and the only shot of the female that I managed came out very blurred . But , one of the youngsters was a bit lazier than the others , and I managed to get several shots of it . Just a shame it kept it's back to me all the time . I followed the family group for some time , before they moved off the reserve , across a horse paddock . My last stop was at another pool , where several Broad Bodied Chaser males were contesting the ownership . While I was watching them , all but one were involved in the dispute , when a female approached the pool . The one that wasn't involved was on her in a flash , and as they do , mated with her in mid air . Here you can see the blue of the male and the yellow of the female ' in the act' . A few seconds later , she was egg laying , he was patrolling over her , and the others didn't even know it had happened . As I walked back to the car , it was warming up , and the birdsong was diminishing , but I had had , a very good visit .


Warren Baker said...

A very good visit indeed Greenie. Redstart, Tree Pipit, Spot. Fly. all good birds to find, and the Silver studded was a stunner! Wont find them on my patch!

Kingsdowner said...

Great report - sounds like a good piece of habitat indeed.
Sadly, although the NBN map shows silver-studded blues in Kent, but more recent surveys indicate that they have been lost.