Sunday, 26 July 2009

Sunday 26th.July 2009

The object of today's excercise , was to establish the emergence of the White Letter Hairstreaks at High Elms Country Park , having been informed of a sighting yesterday by phone .
But to get there , I had to cross the Common , which meant of course , stopping at the Ash tree . Even in the windy conditions , 15/20 specimens were seen , with at least 5 down on the lower vegetation . Some seen were in reasonable condition , like the one above , but others rated on the other end of the spectrum , having lost more scales from it's wings , than were left . A partitularly strong gust of wind deposited a flash of colour , down amongst the grass , and when I checked , it was a very clean Painted Lady . Even this early , you could feel the day slowly deteriorating , so I headed off for High Elms . On arrival I checked the Conservation Field site without finding any signs of WLHs , but on my way back across the field , I managed to equal my best number of 6 Spot Burnet moths on a single flower . Last time , I had six on a Greater Knapweed flower at Fackenden Down . This time , they were on a Field Scabious , and if one hadn't flown off just before I got there , it would have been a new best number . There were two pairs mating , on either side , and two singletons , just watching I suppose .
On the way up to the Orchid Bank , I checked the Violet Helleborines , and found that both had started to flower . Surprising really , as the second one to show was a good 2/3 weeks behind the first , but is in about the same flowering position as the first now . The sun , when it came out was on some of the Budlleia bushes along the way , but not on the one where the WLH was seen yesterday . On another bush , I counted nine Peacocks , all nectaring as if their lives depended on it , and it was interesting to see the Whites were nectaring on a different bush . I suppose it reduced the number of arguments .
I reached the Orchid Bank in good sunshine , and I thought I had found a WLH , at a distance , in amongst the flowers of the Hemp Agrimony , but it turned out to be a single Ringlet wing , fluttering in the wind . I thought that it was probably torn off by a Hawker Dragonfly , prior to eating the remainder , as I have witnessed this on several occasions . Searching the other heads of flowers , I came across the rest of the poor Ringlet , not the prey of a Hawker , but of a white Crab Spider , that didn't want to be photographed , and abseiled down into the lower vegetation . I checked the other stands of Hemp Agrimony , but still didn't find any WLHs . I stayed on the end of the Orchid Bank till the weather returned to it's cloudy state , and at one time had six Silver Washed Fritillaries in view at one time , but the urgency seems to have gone , and this well tatty individual landed right next to me and posed . He even moved onto my finger , but as I didn't have any nectar , jumped straight off onto the flowers . The females that I saw had some damage , but not as much as this specimen . No egg laying was seen today , but it was noticeably cooler in that wind .
By lunchtime , the sky was totally clouded over , and that's the way it stayed all afternoon .

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It's interesting seeing the contrast between generations of butterflies, Greenie - the old campaigners bearing the scars of experience, and the smartly turned out rookies yet to discover what life's about.
Crab spiders are spooky, and somehow not seeing the one dragging that Ringlet into the flowers makes it even spookier.