Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Tuesday 7th.July 2009

A week off from working up on the Greensand Ridge , and with the forecast , I wasn't too upset . However , the morning , after a very grey start , began to improve , and even some blue sky and sunshine . Knowing that the weather could change at any time , I went back onto the Common . The first thing I checked on were the Garlic plants , growing in the long grass , that I posted last week . Some have started to flower , and the green buds are starting to turn pink .Others are not producing flowers , but the bulbils are swelling up . Both these things , according to the books , point to it being Crow Garlic as opposed to Field Garlic . As I walked down one of the rides , I noticed a Magpie , with more sense than me , who had found a nice shaded spot from the sun , which was starting to get very hot again . In the very next glade , I got another year first , in the form of a pristine female Gatekeeper . I got to within camera distance , she had her wings fully open , and as the camera focused , a passing male saw her , and she was no longer in the viewfinder . Needless to say , the male wouldn't take 'no' for an answer , and I watched her land on some Gorse , closely followed by him . Within seconds , they were mating . I recorded several other males on site , but that was the only female . I had spent some time on arrival at the Ash tree , without any PHs coming low down , but when I got to Orchid Glade , I recorded several on a large Oak in the far corner , and also one , down on the Bracken in front . I went through the usual routine of a record shot from a distance , but it wouldn't even wait for that , it was off . It was on the edge of the same glade that another year first was found , a pristine Essex Skipper , identified by the black tips to the antennae . As they were about , I thought I would post the other two 'golden Skippers' that are on the wing as well for comparison . A tatty Small Skipper , but it's the tips of the antennae that is diagnostic , and the Large Skipper , which is the first of the three to emerge , identified by the marbling of the wings , the clubbed/hooked antennae , and of course , it's size .
In the same glade , I noticed something hanging in a stand of Rosebay Willowherb . As I got closer , I thought it was a wrapper that had blown onto the plant . When I got up close , I realised it was three Bumble Bees , which I think were Buff-tailed Bumble Bees . Two were what I would call normal sized , but one was enormous . I thought it at the time , and am more sure now , that the large one was a Queen . I managed to get one shot , then the three of them broke away from each other , and I watched the probable Queen fly off , disappearing into the surrounding trees . I followed her , but didn't find her , but did come across some very robust Pyramidal Orchids in an area that we cleared last Winter . There must have been 15/20 plants , the seeds of which must have been laying dormant , shaded out by the mass of Aspen that we subsequently removed , making the hard work of the Winter , very rewarding . Not as exotic , but still a pretty flower , was the Yarrow , another of the Daisy family . Usually it's found in it's white form , but also in this pink form . By now , the sky was darkening from the Southwest , but on my way back to the car , I stopped to see how the Broad-Leaved Helleborines that we found in another area of the Common , were doing . When we cleared scrub and small trees from the area last Winter , we found the remains of over 50 of the plants . Would our work have helped or hindered them . Two things were very obvious , there were just as many plants as last year , if not more , I stopped counting at 53 , but the most striking thing was how robust this year's plants are , compared to some of the spindly plants found last year . So I think that work was a real success story as well . I got to the car as the first spots started falling , and by halfway home , was driving in a monsoon . This afternoon has just been a succession of showers and thunderstorms , so I'm well pleased I got out this morning .


Ken Browne. said...

Hi Greenie.
I am pleased that you managed to get out and about before the weather changed. Nice photo of the Essex skipper.It looks in great condition.
That was my 1st sighting of a Orchid yesterday.

Simon said...

Pleased to hear that you enjoyed the good weather this morning - I was out volunteering also enjoying the beautiful sunshine.

That Essex Skipper is in lovely condition, and well done on getting the shot of the bee behaviour!!

Warren Baker said...

Alright for some, I have to work in the morning! The moment I left for home the sun went in and it Pi**ed down!!!

Thanks for showing the Essex skipper/Large skipper comparisons. May come in useful.

ShySongbird said...

Thank you very much for helping me out with the flower ID Greenie, it was very kind of you. I have added an edit to my post and acknowledged you and also put a link on your name. I also replied to your comment.

Another interesting post here, it must be very satisfying to see the results of all your hard work making a real difference.