Saturday, 1 August 2009

Saturday 1st.August 2009

With cloud and rain due to arrive early afternoon , I headed for Fackenden Down and White Hill , while there was still some sunshine about . I arrived at White Hill with total cloud cover , and a cool breeze blowing as well . I walked the length of the reserve , to find very few butterflies , and very few nectar sources , as the damage by rabbits that I posted after my last visit , is now much worse . Over the whole site , I only found about half a dozen flower stems of Devil's Bit Scabious , all the rest having been nibbled down to the rosette of leaves at ground level , and almost no Knapweed . As I walked back again , the sun began to break through and by the time I reached the main bank , the motionless slope that I had passed earlier , was now starting to 'bounce' . I found a male Chalkhill Blue that hat just recently emerged , holding his antennae in that strange 'just emerged' way . The numbers of this species grew very quickly , and it wasn't long before I found the first of 10/15 mating pairs . For the males , having found a female wasn't the end of it , as they were constantly being pursued by anything up to 4/5 other males , all trying to separate the pair , so they could take his place . Strangely , one plant that the rabbits haven't started nibbling , yet , is the Autumn Gentian , which is just starting to come in to flower . Whilst searching the vegetation , I found this moth , which I knew was common , but couldn't remember the name . When I got home , I searched UK Moths , and I think that it is Shaded Broad-bar , but I stand to be corrected . Having used the 'A' word once , another reminder was found under a large Beech , as I left the reserve . Several other specimens had already been munched or uprooted , but this Russula mairei-Beechwood Sickener was still in good condition . This species is listed as poisonous . 7 species of butterfly were recorded on the site , the most numerous , Chalkhill Blue , estimated at 75-100 .
A short walk down the lane brought me to the entrance to Fackenden Down . The sun was milkier now , but it's warmth could still be felt through the cloud . Painted Ladies were found in good numbers just inside the reserve , along with Common Blue , Gatekeeper and Peacock
looking sultry in the subdued light . Just Slow Worms were found under the refugia in the first field , and on the log pile in the next field , 2 juvenile Common Lizards were sunning themselves ,
this being one of them . The refugia proved unused most of the way round , so it was good to have some flowers and more butterflies to record . The strange Carline Thistle , in 'full flower' at the moment , and this is as good as it gets . Small Scabious , with far less leaf than it's relation , Field Scabious , is brightening up the slope . Both are members of the Teasel family .
Many more Painted Ladies were found along the bottom track , protected from the breeze by the field hedge . Chalkhill Blues were found here in good numbers too , along with a few Brown Argus , including a freshly emerged female . The last few refugia did produce a couple of reptiles , making the visit more interesting . A small male , with 'blueing' eyes , showing that he is coming up to slough , was found under one , and the female that I have found on my last couple of visits , is still happily residing under another . A total of 10 Sow Worms and 3 Common Lizards were recorded . Very little bird activity , apart from the Yellowhammer still singing , a Kestrel , hovering over the slope , probably looking for breakfast , and the odd Tit call .
14 species of butterfly were recorded , the most numerous being , Painted Lady (26) , Common Blue (24) , Gatekeeper (49) , Meadow Brown (43) and Chalkhill Blue (121) .


Kingsdowner said...

Not bad for a cloudy day! Good brown argus pic!
Is it my imagination, or have all the skippers vanished?

Greenie said...

Steve ,
I was thinking the same today .
I had one on the Common yesterday ,
and another single today , both well beyond their sell-by date .
The freshest are the majority of the Painted Ladies .

Ken Browne. said...

Hi Greenie.
That was a good days wildlife watch. It might be very quiet on the bird front but your butterfly count is good.I might not be into flowers, but it is always nice to see your photo's.
As for Warren in Wales, I hope the wildlife doesn't make it too easy for him to se.We know how much he like's to crawl and climb over things.
Do you know what part he has gone to Fred?

Phil and Mandy said...

Lovely photos Greenie, I am still to see a snake of any sorts in the wild. Thanks for the ID on the Comma, a first for me. Phil

Dean said...

Hi Greenie.
Another great post of some cracking species.