Thursday, 2 July 2009

Thursday 2nd.July 2009

After two days sweating up on the Greensand Ridge , with just a fox , that should have known better than to be out with mad Englishmen in that sun , and a mink , flattened in the road , I won't post a shot of that one , but I was amazed to see how small it was , was the only wildlife encountered .
I was doing a mate a favour this morning , but managed to make a short visit to the Common before doing so . At 8.45 , it was already really hot , but I took up position , in front of the Ash tree and waited for movement . A few flashes were seen , but was it a Purple Hairstreak ? I couldn't be sure . I had one eye on the tree and the other on my watch , not wanting to be late , when , through binoculars , I sighted my first PH of the year . Once one was seen , a few more started moving , and a couple of minutes before I had to leave , one settled low enough to get a shot . I'm sure , now that they have started emerging , there will be better opportunities .
Having done the favour , I headed for Fackenden Down , as I was in the general area . I decided to lift tins , even though I didn't expect to find anything in that heat . As it happened , under the very first felt that I turned , there were a pair of sub adult male Adders . I can't understand why they were under the felt , with the temperature as high as it was . The rest of the 20 pairs of refugia , produced just three Slow Worms between them . The only other thing of interest found
under the refugia , was this Devil's Coach Horse , one of the Rove Beetles . Butterflies were not found in large numbers , even these sun loving insects were finding shady places to pass away the heat of the day . Good numbers of Small Skippers were recorded , they seem to be having a good year on several sites , and half way round , I had another year first , when I recorded a male Chalkhill Blue . Try as I may , it just would not open it's wings , so had to settle for this underwing shot . At the far end of the site , I recorded a few Marbled Whites , but too active to stop for a shot . Two of the reduced number of Meadow Browns recorded , were getting on with regeneration . All over the site , Common Centaury is in flower , and this specimen had the bonus of a 6 Spot Burnet moth caterpillar on it , just below the bottom left flower . On one of the umbelifer flowers , I found a lemon yellow Crab Spider , showing how it gets it's name with those long front legs , but when I got too close , it took up it's hunting position , behind the flower head , ready to grab any insect landing to feed . Birds were few and far between , with a couple of Common Whitethroats , and two Yellowhammers 'duelling in song' , this being one of them , showing that wonderful rust rump of the male . I tried to get closer , but he had different ideas . Just before leaving the site , I recorded my second Chalkhill Blue , and this one almost opened up his wings to show that pristine colour . Noticeably , all the fragrant Orchids have gone over with the hot , dry weather , but all have good numbers of seed pods in place of the flowers . The full Butterfly count was , Small Skipper (34) , Large White (7) , Dark Green Fritillary (1) , Small White (5) , Speckled Wood (1) , Marbled White (6) , Small Heath (1) , Common Blue (3) - 2 from fresh brood , Brimstone (1) , Meadow Brown (63) and Ringlet (59) .
Sweating profusely , I headed for High Elms to check on the Silver Washed Fritillaries and hoping for a White Admiral . When I arrived , cloud was starting to come in , as usual , but I still headed for the Burnt Gorse area . In the glade before Burnt Gorse , I started getting sighting of SWF in ones and twos . I saw two acting as if they were male and female courting , but , without seeing the topwings , I couldn't be sure . I was just about to leave the glade , when I saw something 'flop' down onto the Brambles . I carefully made way way over , and sure enough , it was a newly emerged White Admiral , nectaring on the flowers . With a longer period of sunshine , another came into the glade to join it . With cloud cover coming in again , they left the Brambles and headed high into the surrounding Beech trees . I headed off to check Burnt Gorse and the other glades , and found about the same total of SWFs that I had recorded the other day , but , once again difficult to be exact with them being so active . On my way back to the car , I had to leave via that glade again , and this time recorded a total of 4 White Admirals , but with the sun leaving the glade , they were heading treewards .
I headed home , feeling well happy with one year first at each of the sites visited today .


Warren Baker said...

Well done on the butterfly hunt greenie.
Are PH's found near most ash tree's ? how likely am I to find one ?

Ken Browne. said...

Hi Greenie. Talking of mad dogs and englishmen, you certainly had a pretty good day considering how hot it has been. Great count of butterflies at Fackenden Down. I have definately got to get up there soon.Have a good weekend mate.

Greenie said...

Warren ,
PHs live on Oaks . It's just that this particular Ash is in the middle of smaller Oaks , so the male PHs us it as their 'master tree' , as they can see all from the top .
If you have a single or group of Oaks on your patch , spend a few minutes in good conditions , scanning the tops for movement . Sometimes they come down to nectar , but they mainly feed on the sugary substance secreted by aphids , left on the leaves .
PHs are probably one of the most overlooked/under recorded butterflies .

ShySongbird said...

I've just been catching up with your posts Greenie and as usual they are so interesting and informative. You have seen a wonderful range of butterflies lately, many of which I have never seen ever including the Purple Hairstreak and the White Admiral. I don't think I've ever seen a Lemon Yellow Crab Spider either, all fascinating stuff!