Monday, 13 July 2009

Monday 13th.July 2009

This morning was awful . Cool , cloudy and the occasional drizzle . I used the time sorting my recently taken photos , but all the time , looking out to the SE , trying to convince myself it was getting brighter . At lunchtime , a glimmer of hope , and I was off . As I parked on the Common , what was a glimmer , got engulfed by thicker grey clouds than ever , and the drizzle turned into rain . But I was out , and that's where I was staying . In the conditions , butterflies were almost non existant . I headed to the Purple Hairstreak area and checked the Brambles , but they had more sense . The cool damp conditions didn't seem to worry the Bumble Bees , and I noticed several species . The Buff and White Tailed , I recognised , but I kept sighting ones with black stripes on their white tails . They have probably been there before , but with butterflies about , they don't get a look in . I took a few shots , and when I got home looked them up . I believe they are a Cuckoo Bee - Psithyrus vestalis . Apparently they are so called , because like the Cuckoo , they lay their eggs in the nests of other species . While I was editing the above shot , I over enlarged it by accident . Have you ever come eye to eye with a Cuckoo Bee ? Thankfully , the clouds did start to break up , and the sun came out , immediately followed by the butterflies . A flash of blue had me heading for another Bramble patch , where a male Holly Blue was standing guard over his patch . There was a female , with larger dark patches on the forewing , in the adjacent Oak tree , which I attempted to photograph , but on the end of a branch , in that wind , it was trying to get a shot of someone on a fairground ride . That wind was blowing straight in on the area , and I decided to head off , but as I did so , a female Purple Hairstreak must have got blown off her perch above , and landed , very unladylike in the vegetation . She soon sorted herself out and settled on a small Oak sapling .
I thought that High Elms would be more sheltered , and as I have got Kent Butterfly Conservation coming up next Sunday for a Field Trip , I thought I should make sure that all was well with the Silver Washed Fritillaries . It was more sheltered there , especially over by Burnt Gorse , and I started seeing SWFs straight away , nearly all males . By the time I got to the Orchid Bank , I started to see females . I checked the Orchid Bank for any White Letter Hairstreaks , but still nothing , but the Hemp Agrimony is just starting to flower , and as that is their favourite tipple , they should be showing very soon . On one of the main rides , I started finding female SWFs , egg laying . This is the only species that lays it's eggs on trees and other suitable objects above ground . I found one today , laying it's eggs on a gate post . That might sound strange , but the important thing is what is around the tree or other suitable object , Violets . She will only lay her eggs where Violets are plentiful , and after hatching , the caterpillar crawls down the tree/object , and it's food is there in front of it . At one point , I had three females laying on three different trees in front of me , and several times I had to dissuade females from laying their eggs on me , thinking I was a suitable object . Watching them , they seem to be able to lay 5/6 eggs at a time in different places , then they have to flutter down to the woodland floor , to recuperate before doing the same again , and of course evading the attention of passing males .
It was whilst watching these females , that a 'flappy glide' caught my attention . I left the ladies and followed the 'flappy glide' . Eventually it settled , and my first impression proved right , a White Admiral . I thought at first it was going to move on again straight away , as it decided to settle on Bramble flowers , already occupied by a Meadow Brown , but after a bit of argybargy , they both settled . The Meadow Brown moved on shortly after , leaving just me and this exquisite specimen . I did sight another later on , but that was a flyby , without a chance of a shot . I headed down to the lower glade , where I had the second mating pair of SWFs , but the sun was starting to go off that one and it was quiet . Whilst walking around , I had two nice fresh Red Admirals , but they were not in the mood for posing . Back on the main rides , there were good numbers of Comma , and although the sexes cannot be separated just looking , from the body language of this one , when four times a male tried to get her interested and she refused , it had to be a female . At every sunny spot along these rides , there seemed to be a male SWF ,
perched up high , waiting for a passing female , or , just for a scrap with any passing species . I must have seen 4/5 courting pairs , with the female flying straight and the male corkscrewing around her , and a couple of those involved 1/2 extra males . I headed back to the car , via the edge of the Golf Course , which has good stands of Creeping Thistle , in the warm late afternoon sun . It was there that I found two freshly emerged Peacocks , one disappeared immediately , but with a bit of stalking , I managed a shot of the other .
Two days working up on the Greensand Ridge , chances of wildlife ?


Warren Baker said...

It was a half decent day all day here greenie! You see, it always pays to get out there, something generally happens. :-)

PS do PH's feed on Blackberries ?

Greenie said...

Warren ,
When the fruits are ripe and soft , they take the sweet juices . Sometimes they seem drunk , like Red Admirals and Peacocks on rotten apples later in the year .

ShySongbird said...

Considering your weather you did well. So many butterflies, the White Admiral really is very striking but I would be thrilled to see any of the ones you see so regularly.

Ken Browne. said...

Hi Greenie. I agree with ShySongbird, the White Admiral is a striking insect. Also a nice close up of the Cuckoo Bee.Good luck with wildlife on the Greensand Ridge.

Adam said...

Hi Fred - now your making me jealous with all those photos! Love to come to the walk at the weekend but in Stoke-on-Trent for my sins. How long would you expect SWF to be on the wing???


Adam said...

Ps. Blogging again

Greenie said...

Adam ,
2008 3rd.July to 28th.Aug. Max.
1st.Aug .
2007 21st.June to 1st Sept. Max. 4th.Aug.
This year , first sighting
So you still have time .
Obviously will depend on weather .