Thursday, 18 June 2009

Thursday 18th.June 2009

Having spent yesterday strimming paths up on the Greensand Ridge , and with cloud cover approaching from the West , I would have liked to have had an early start today , but a dental appointment put paid to that , and it was 10.30 before I arrived at High Elms , and the clouds were already gathering . By the time I got to Burnt Gorse , just 10/15 minutes of sunshine remained . The object of the visit , was to see if any Silver Washed Fritillaries had emerged , as the recent warm weather has brought them out on other sites . A quick look round their favourite places didn't reveal any , and by then the sun had gone behind clouds . Meadow Browns and Ringlets were still active for a while , as was this rather ragged female Large White . Good numbers of Large Skipper were found , and at the bottom of the slope several male Small Skippers , with no marbling on the wing . For the next couple of weeks , it is reasonable to assume that any small Skippers seen are Small , but then the Essex Skipper will emerge , and make recording more difficult . The best ID for each species , is the tips of their antennae . As can be seen from the male above , the tips of his are orange , but can be dull brown . The tips of the Essex Skipper's antennae look as if someone has dipped them in a pot of black ink . This was a female I photographed up on the Common last year . Day flying moths recorded included Cinnabar , Burnet Companion and 6 Spot Burnet moth , which I posted the other day , but couldn't resist this one on a Common Spotted Orchid with a Hovver Fly as company . I checked the Violet Helleborine on the way back to the car , and now we have two , the second being the 'achlorophyllous' form , like the first . After lunch , and doing a bit of fence repairs in the garden , I had a hour at the farm lake . All the water birds seem OK , with the young of the first Little Grebe family , almost full size now , but still showing their juvenile plumage . Around the lake , Damselflies , Black Tailed Skimmers and Common Darters are still emerging in numbers , but not many mature specimens were on the wing . Common Blue and Blue Tailed Damselflies are still the most numerous , but Large Red are recorded every now and again . More flowers and plants are coming into flower like this Meadowsweet , and also , one of my favourites , Greater Knapweed . Butterflies were hard to find , and those recorded were tucked down in the vegetation . They were Meadow Brown and an aptly named Ringlet , with it's 'rings' and the creamy white border . Just one day flying moth was recorded , but it was the strange looking Plume Moth . I was just about to leave the site , when a rush of air sound had me looking over my shoulder into the corner of the lake , where a Hobby had attempted to take a Dragonfly , just 1 mtr. above the surface and 10 mtrs. from where I was standing . It immediately went into an almost vertical climb to avoid the trees behind where I was standing . I got in amongst the trees and watched it make another attempt over the other side of the lake , and then fly off behind the farmhouse . After a couple of minutes it returned , with another , but this time high up with the Swifts . I watched them for 10/15 minutes , but didn't see them get their tea . I took a couple of shots , knowing that would only be silhouettes , but enough to make out the species .


Warren Baker said...

Always difficult to capture the Hobby Greenie.

What are the chances of an essex skipper on my patch, whats the habitat requirement?

Greenie said...

Warren ,
You have Large Skipper , so there is every chance of Essex as well when they emerge in a couple of weeks . Both use the same type of habitat - Long uncut grass , verges , woodland glades and embankments .
The Small Skipper uses similar , but more open habitat , e.g. field edges , but these must contain a grass called Yorkshire Fog , it's foodplant .
If you don't know the grass , Google it and click on the Wikipedia entry , guarantee you've see it .

Kingsdowner said...

Yet another reminder to get up to High Brooms. Soon I hope.

Thanks for the reminder about the differences between Small and Essex. Awkward things.