Monday, 17 August 2009

Monday 17th.August 2009

Firstly , many thanks to Rob / Wight Rambler for identifying the 'squid type' spider posted yesterday , as Tetragnatha extensa .
Ten days on from my last visit , I decided to head back to the Downs above Dorking , to check up on the Adonis Blues , Silver Spotted Skippers and to see if there was any sign yet of the Autumn Ladies Tresses , that were not showing last time .
I arrived in windy , overcast conditions , not very good for butterflies at all . But , amongst the long grass , sheltered from the wind , a good number of species were found . The Chalkhill Blues are starting to fade now , as are the Common Blues , but being a second brood , the Adonis Blues are looking very fresh , especially the females , which hadn't emerged 10 days ago . The cool conditions are not good for seeing butterflies on the wing , but located in the ground vegetation ,
it is a good time to get close , and as seen before , they welcome the warmth of your finger . This very freshly emerged female Adonis Blue was only too happy to oblige . An unexpected species early on was a female Silver Washed Fritillary , that had been nectaring on Black Knapweed , then flew up onto some high Bramble . Walking the length of the reserve , with only brief spells of sunshine , produced just one Silver Spotted Skipper , a male , warming up for any action coming his way . At the far end I disturbed 2 Clouded Yellows , and although it is never possible to be sure of numbers because they are so active , I recorded 3 , possibly 5 on my visit . On a small diagonal path , I started finding a member of the Orchid family , Autumn Lady's-tresses - Spiranthes spiralis . They are not easy to see , growing to a maximun of 15cm. , but in long grass , seem much smaller . In all , I counted 26 spikes , far fewer than when found in previous years . The white flowers , spiral their way up the stem , but not all in the same direction , as can be seen in the photo , although growing side by side , the on the left spirals left handed , and the one on the right spirals right handed up the stem . We used to have Summer Lady's-tresses as well , but they have not been found since the early 1950's . Every time the sun did come out , the activity increased , as with this male and female Adonis Blue , but this came to nothing . Just before another bank of cloud rolled over the sun , I found this female Silver Spotted Skipper , having already mated , laying her eggs , right down at the bottom of the blades of grass . I would not be able to identify it , but she would only lay on a grass called Sheep's-fescue , which is their sole food plant . Whilst on site , I recorded 3 Small Tortoiseshells , all very fresh . Eventually , a reasonable period of sunshine got everything active , and during this time , I found a pair of Adonis Blues , making 2010's first brood . Other species recorded were , Meadow Brown , Gatekeeper , Painted Lady , Brown Argus , Brimstone ,Comma , Small Copper , Small Heath , Peacock , Speckled Wood , Large ,Small and Green Veined White .
Apart from Corvids and a couple of Green Woodpeckers , the only excitement was a Common Buzzard , further along the ridge , occassionally calling .


Rambling Rob said...

Hi Greenie, Autumn Lady's Tresses were out on Culver Down this evening - very dainty aren't they. I'd like to find an Adonis Blue - haven't seen one yet. Do you know if Silver Spotted Skippers are to be found on the IoW?

Warren Baker said...

I like the Female A B Photo greenie. Why do only females come to you fingers ? :-)