Thursday, 16 July 2009

Thursday 16th.July 2009

Having spent the last two days under a helmet and ear defenders , with a strimmer in my hands , getting stung twice twice by wasps , once on the back of the neck under the helmet , and once in the belly , under my jacket and through my shirt , when I strimmed over their nest on a bank , inadvertently , I was glad just to be out and about again today , even if the stings were still sore .
I started on the Common , as usual , and saw plenty of Purple Hairstreaks at the two sites away from the Ash tree , but once again , nothing coming down low . I moved on to the Ash tree glade , and met Keith , another enthusiast that I met last year at High Elms , who had arrived early , and had got some good open winged shots of PHs . Even these individuals didn't stay down for long . Another couple came down whilst I was there , and I did manage a couple of shots , but not open winged . It was warming up quickly , so as we both had intentions of visiting White Hill , near Shoreham , we set off . By the time we arrived , the clear skies were building with cloud , but still not too bad . I had several male Chalkhill Blues on my last visit , and sure enough on our arrival , males could be seen 'bouncing' on the bank , but not in the numbers that I was expecting . We walked the lenght of the reserve , and we were both amazed at how little flower there was for the butterflies to nectar on . The Marjoram was just starting to flower , but very little sign of Black Knapweed and just one specimen of Greater Knapweed . Two interesting things we found were , these caterpillars that had almost stripped a Rose of all it's foliage , I haven't had time to ID them yet , but I'm pretty sure they are of a moth species , and a brown Crab Spider that Keith spotted on the track . I was reading the other day that these spiders can change their colour to suit the situation , so brown on the track was ideal for an ambush . By the time we had walked back to the main slope , we had found 2/3 mating pairs of Chalkhill Blues , and also several freshly emerged males . Keith's time was now up , so he headed off home , whilst I stayed photographing . Whilst photographing another pair , a pair , still joined together , got blown on the strong breeze , persued by several other males , and seemed to claim sanctuary , on the leg of my trousers . They seemed quite happy there , and even allowed me to encourage them onto my finger for a close up . I got my shots , then placed them gently amongst the vegetation , away from other males , to do what they had to do . Before leaving the site , I found a 'past it's sell by date' Meadow Brown , showing that being a butterfly isn't all about having fun in the sun , especially when mites manage to get on board .
Returning to the car for a drink , I then decided to turn tins on Fackenden Down . Almost immediately I noticed someone else doing the same thing . It was another of the Kent Reptile and Amphibian Group surveyors , David . I had met him earlier in the season , and we decided to go round together . It was quite warm by now and neither of us expected to find much , but off we went . We did better than we expected , with three juvenile and one pictured Adders , and a good number of Slow Worms , several of them being gravid , pregnant , females .
Butterflies were few and far between , but there were some Chalkhill Blues , the odd Common Blue and one Brown Argus . Once again , good numbers of 6 Spot Burnet moths were found , including this pair , the picture of which encapsulates almost the entire life cycle . The beige parcel is the cocoon made by the caterpillar , in which to pupate , the black material on the cocoon is the remains of the chrysalis , from which the adult emerged , and the adults are mating , which will produce eggs to be layed by the female , to hatch out into caterpillars . Whilst walking around , we had been talking about many things , one of them being Clouded Yellow butterflies . We both said that we hadn't seen any this season , but David was going to Samphire Hoe later in the week , and hoped to see one there . About half an hour after that conversation , as we were heading back to the cars , survey completed , David was talking about something else , when he stopped talking , and we both blurted out 'Clouded Yellow' as a male shot past us on the breeze . This species is renown for not stopping , but always up for a challenge , I started to chase it down . It stopped well ahead of me , and I caught it up , and was just focusing from a distance for a record shot , when it was off again . Again , I was off after it , and after a couple of maybe stops , it settled well ahead of me on the track . Again I attempted a record shot from distance , and this time I managed it . I got closer and took a second , and then got closer still , chancing my luck with a third . And luck was with me today , for as I took the third shot , it took off again . I tried to follow it but it soon disappeared into the next field and away , but at least I had three shots of it . Now this species , is 99.9% only seen with it's wings closed , as I thought my three shots were . But , when I was looking back some shots later , I was amazed to see that my third shot had in fact caught the Clouded Yellow , at the milli second that it was taking off , leaving me with a blurry but very reasonable shot of it's top wing , something I have ever only seen in books . Lucky , or what . At the stile off the sight , we found a very fresh Painted Lady , and she was quite happy to pose for a shot . David and I parted company at the cars , and I headed off to see if there was any sign of White Letter Hairstreaks at High Elms , with Sunday's visit in mind . On the Buddleia on the track up to Burnt Gorse , I found White Admiral , Peacock and Silver Washed Fritillary all taking nectar together . The WA was off before I was in camera range , closely followed by the Peacock , but the SWF was too interested in the nectar to bother about me . By the time I reached the Orchid Bank , where the WLH are usually found , the cloud was thickening up again and it was starting to cool , and I didn't find any , let's hope we find some on Sunday . Several more SWf were sighted before getting back to the car , including several females , but no egg laying was seen .


Warren Baker said...

I thought I saw a CY go past me today Greenie, but it was well ahead of me and nowhere to be seen by the time I got there. Certainly mot a lucky shot, fortune favours the industrious!!

Kingsdowner said...

Two butterflies on your finger is just showing off!
Great to see an open-wing shot of the clouded yellow; I've not seen any down on the rifle range yet this year.

Phil and Mandy said...

Lovely photos again Greenie.

Anonymous said...

I hope those wasp stings have subsided, Greenie. Another spectacular show of butterflies. The Marjoram is flowering here now - popular with the Gatekeepers and Painted Ladies.

Charlie P said...

fascinating as usual; as Steve said, tyhe open wing shot of the clouded yellow is particularly nice.
saw a very fresh-looking Painted Lady in our garden today, and several others around Firle. Are these likely to be the first of a UK-born generation, or new migrants from closer on the continent than the mass influx?

Ken Browne. said...

Hi Greenie. Well done on finding the C/Yellow. It is funny that it was only a couple of days ago that you said to me, and I quote
"shame you didn't get the Clouded Yellow,it must be a couple of years since I had one."
and there you are photographing one.
Nice days find all round.

ShySongbird said...

Such a fascinating post again Greenie, I really do have enormous respect for your knowledge. The information illustrated by the Six Spot Burnet Moth was beautifully put. Very well done on the Clouded Yellow, yet another butterfly I have never seen! Lovely photos throughout.

Greenie said...

Steve ,
I must agree with your comment , but I'll be trying for three next time !

Phil & Mandy
Thank you .

Rob ,
Stings are still well up at the moment , but thanks . Would have thought that your Marjoram would be well ahead of here .

Charlie P ,
Impossible to be certain , but best quess would be the offspring of the 'mass invasion' which were egg laying as soon as they came over , especially along the South coast . These specimens will also move Northwards , and unable to handle the cold wet Winter conditions , unfortunately will die like all the other millions . Thanks for your comment .

Ken ,
As I was chasing it down , I was thinking exactly the same . Still can't believe I got the open wing shot .

ShySongbird ,
I hope that one day you will see a Clouded Yellow , a flash of deep yellow , especially a male like the one I had today , makes the male Brimstone look bland .
Thank you very much for your kind comment again . (Blushing)

Anonymous said...

Hi, Greenie.
I posted one of those caterpillars on my blog, this week. It`s a Sawfly, possibly Croesus septentrionalis.

Well done with the Clouded Yellow upperwing shot.

Greenie said...

Dean ,
Thanks again , that's the second time I've mis-identified Sawfly larvae as Moth larvae .
If you can help , I've got 3 more unknowns tonight .

Charlie P said...

Thanks very much Greenie, great blog. I learn something every time I visit :-)