Friday, 21 August 2009

Friday 21st.August 2009

A reasonable morning , with less wind than yesterday , but it would not last was the forecast .
I decided to make my first stop the farm lake , so if the weather changed , I wouldn't be far from home . Arriving in humid , warm conditions , it was surprising that there was little on the wing . The usual water birds , a Green Woodpecker , right across the other side , that flew off before allowing a photo and a couple of Swallows taking an early morning drink was all that was about birdwise . Butterflies were not much better , with just 11 from 4 species , and not a single Gatekeeper amongst them . A single Migrant Hawker was patrolling one corner , but , apart from that , just 1 Common Darter and a very over mature Black Tailed Skimmer , and 25+ Common Blue Damselflies was all that was recorded . A lot of the flowers around the lake have gone to seed now , like the Wild Carrot , turning almost inside out , before giving up it's seeds to the Finches , or dropping them for next year . One thing of interest , or that should be two , was a pair of what I thought were Froghoppers or Leafhoppers , making some more . I took the shot , then looked them up when I got home . I believe them to be Common Froghoppers-Philaenus spumarius , I should have got the first bit from the shape of their heads . Anyway , here comes the technical bit - this species is the champion jumper of the animal kingdom . They can jump 70cms. into the air . Their jump is so powerful , that in it's initial stages , a Gforce of over 400 gravities is generated . To compare this , an astronaut in orbit is subjected to 5 gravities . The young of these , develop in frothy clumps , commonly known as 'Cuckoo Spit' , found on grass . The article also told how they make the froth , but I don't think we need to go into that .
With the weather holding , I headed off to High Elms for a look around . I headed straight for the Orchid Bank and the Hemp Agrimony stands , looking for White Letter Hairstreaks , of which none were found , surprising , as conditions seemed perfect . In fact , I didn't find any butterflies on the HA at all . I hung about , hoping WLHs might appear , and noticed a pair of Migrant Hawkers , hawking over the area . Eventually one came to rest allowing a few shots . Both of them turned out to be immature males . As I passed the Silver Washed Fritillary favourite egg laying area , for this year , I found two females , but no egg laying went on . In total , I found five females , some still very respectable like this one , but others getting very tatty . It wasn't till I got to Burnt Gorse that I found the first of two males , and I think he could definitely be described as tatty , and he was the tidier of the two . Also found on Burnt Gorse were two Small Coppers . I went back to the HA a couple of times , only finding a single SWF and a Meadow Brown . On one occasion , I disturbed a pair of flies , I think they might be Mydaea scutellaris , ( but they are not , as Dean has identified them as Rhingia campestris , a hoverfly , thanks very much Dean ) , but they had one deed on their mind , and that was to do it acrobatically . Other species recorded were , Speckled Wood , Red Admiral , Brimstone , Brown Argus , Large ,Small and Green Veined White , Gatekeeper and Common Blue . Before heading home for lunch with the skies starting to darken , I gave the HA one more shot . Whilst waiting to see if anything came , I watched a female Common Blue , busily searching for ideal places to lay her eggs . I watched her through binoculars , rejecting many places , but every now and again , dabbing the end of her abdomen onto leaves of Bird's Foot Trefoil . I tried to find each egg after she had moved on , but it wasn't till I went to try and find the third egg that I saw her lay , that I was successful , a little white speck , much smaller than a pin head . These eggs laid by second brood adults , will hatch out after a short while , then feed before overwintering as full grown caterpillars at the base of the food plant , before re-emerging in March to carry on feeding , pupating , and fly as first brood adults in late May/early June , next year . One other thing caught my eye whilst there , and that was this Robber or Assassin Fly , which I think is the Common Awl Robberfly , which arrived quite close to me , with his lunch .
I left him with his , whilst I went home for my lunch , arriving just before the first shower of the day .


Warren Baker said...

Things are going strangley quiet greenie! Its not that late in the year yet.

PS you leave my hedge alone, its the only mature one on my patch!

Rambling Rob said...

Brilliant shot of the picnicking Robber Fly - I must look out for one of those.

Dean said...

Nice shot of the Frogghoppers, Greenie.
The first 2 flies look very much like Rhingia campestris.

Greenie said...

Warren ,
I agree with your 'quiet' statement .
Saw no Peacock butterflies yesterday , but saw photos of them already in hibernation a week ago .

Rob ,
There were several seen yesterday , but not all with 'take aways' .

Dean ,
I went down the line of house or flesh flies , but after Googling your ID , I would agree . Thanks for that .

flyingstars said...

simply beautifully captured shots!

ShySongbird said...

I too have noticed the 'quietness', the dreaded A word seems to me to be creeping ever closer!

Fascinating details about the Common Froghopper, what an incredible jump that is!

How vulnerable those tiny little eggs of the Common Blue must be, it is amazing so many are successful, Nature is just incredible.

Phil and Mandy said...

Some lovely photos again Greenie.Phil