Wednesday, 8 July 2009

Wednesday 8th.July 2009

An hour and a half , is about all I can manage each day at the moment , due mainly to the weather , as it was today . The morning was grim , rain or drizzle all the time , but , just after lunch , the first sign of brightness , and I was off to what has become my second home recently , the Common . I didn't go straight to the Ash tree today , something pulled me towards where the Small Tortoiseshell had laid her eggs . After the storm late yesterday afternoon which dumped so much rain , the road outside was like a river , and hailstones , not as big as golf balls , but well on the way , I was wondering what I was going to find as I parked the car . Being so dry , and high up the Common had already dried out apart from the morning rain , and even though it was still cloudy , you could feel the sun through it . I walked towards intended area , and on the first Oak tree I passed , I saw a flutter amongst the leaves on the end of a branch about 5mtrs. off the ground . I got the camera ready and waited . Eventually , a female Purple Hairstreak emerged from behind a leaf , and started egg laying . Through binoculars , I could see her probing with her abdomen , searching , blindly , for a suitable spot to lay her precious egg . Having laid that one , she flew off , round in a loop , and landed at about chest height , almost right in front of me . No need for binoculars this time , as I watched her make her way along the branch , to the very extremity , where the buds that will be next year's leaves , have already formed . Once again , she went though the same procedure and deposited another egg . She laid several more in the same area , but all on different groups of buds . When she had finished , she flew her loop again , this time landing on a leaf in the sun , which had now broken through the cloud cover , and I was able to get several shots before I left her to rest . I had made a mental note of where I saw her laying one of the eggs , and returning to the spot , I eventually found it , tucked in between the buds . The small white egg , will remain as such , until March/April next year , when the caterpillar will hopefully emerge , feed , pupate into a chrysalis , and hopefully , I will be photographing it as an adult , this time next year .
The most numerous butterflies about were Whites , Green Veined , Small and Large . It was whilst I was trying to photograph , unsuccessfully , another PH , sunning itself on Bramble , that it flew off and disturbed a very large Large White , which turned out to be a pair mating , but at the time looked like a handkerchief flying around . They did settle , allowing some shots , but then another male wanted some of the action , came on the scene , but was not successful , as the mating male saw him off in no uncertain terms . Two other males made attempts while I was there , but neither of them were successful either . I left them to get on with what they were doing . A few Meadow Browns and Ringlets were recorded , but not much else , until the Small Tortoiseshell's area . Again life and limb was risked , to no avail as regards PHs , but I did get three sightings of Holly Blue , but not sure how many butterflies were involved for sure . On the third sighting , I got my record shot , and I'm sure he already had one leg in the air as I took it , as when the first still image disappeared from the viewfinder , so was he . Identified as a male by the small amount of dark blue marking on the edge of the forewing . I think this is a poor year for this species , they suffer predation by the parasitic ichneumon wasp Listrodomus nycthemerus , that injects it's eggs into the living caterpillar , which it eventually kills .
A species increasing in number day on day is the Gatekeeper . I found all males today , identified by the sex brand , dark markings on the forewings , the female's is clear .
By now , the clouds were rolling in again , and the odd spot of rain . On my way back to the car , I found what I first thought was a Hornet when it was on the wing , but when it settled , the single wings said fly . When it settled , I would say it was two thirds the size of a Hornet Any Ideas ?
I got back to the car just as the rain really started , and like the other time , drove home in a monsoon .

Edit : just found the fly on Google . It's Volucella zonaria , a large hoverfly .

1 comment:

Warren Baker said...

Bloody weather Eh Greenie :-)

See you had a PH day today as well! I would love to photograph a male!