When I turned in last night , I tried to decide which butterfly to search for today , Duke of Burgundy Fritillary or Wood White . Either involved a long drive , but the forecast was favourable . This morning , that forecast had changed to clouding over and chance of showers . The two butterflies were put on hold for another day , and I set off in the early morning sun , to look for a new colony of Early Purple Orchids , once again found by fellow butterfly enthusiast Keith , whilst he was walking to see the colony that I posted , just off the A21 , near Green Street Green . After searching for about an hour , I gave up , and walked across the fields to Burnt Gorse , whilst the sun was still shining . In one of the fields , I found a 'weed of cultivation' , as it is described in the book , Common Fumitory-Fumaria officinalis . For once , the sun was still shining when I arrived at Burnt Gorse , just , as already clouds were starting to bubble up . On the main path , I found a female Brimstone , enjoying the warmth . 3/4 Green Hairstreaks were also recorded , but none around or on their favourite Wayfarer bush . One was very fresh and was probably a female , but the one I found down at the bottom of the slope , had the looks of a male that had been involved in aerial combat . The damage to the hindwing and the obvious loss of scales from the underwing caused by those fights , but the damage does give a chance to see the plain brown topwing , seldom seen , as the species always closes it's wings when at rest . Also recorded were a single , very tidy Peacock , this one would have overwintered as an adult , as freshly hatched specimens will not be seen until early August , and 7 Dingy Skippers , a couple of which looked like females . The sightings finished with the sun , so I headed off to check the Bird's Nest Orchids , just below the Orchid Bank , finding just one specimen breaking through the leaf litter . More White Helleborines were found on the way to the Orchid Bank , but none yet in flower . The Fly Orchid that I found last visit , has got it's first flower , and I found a further two specimens close by . Of interest , this plant secretes sex pheromones that attract male Digger Wasps . The wasps attempt to mate with the flowers , the wasps pollinate the flowers whilst doing so . The flowers are left alone when the female wasps emerge about 2 weeks after the males . Also on the Orchid bank , the first Twayblade flowers are opening . Still without the sun , I headed for Keith's newly found Bird's Nest Orchid colony , where things are really moving on at a pace . In all , 22 new flower spikes were found , and more to come I'm pretty sure , this shot showing 11 of them , and the upright brown sticks are the remains of last year's plants , topped by the seed heads . Most were quite small , but one individual specimen should have open flowers on my next visit . I walked back to the car , then drove to where I had started looking first thing . After about 20 minutes , I found the EPOs , a nice colony of 9 flower spikes , I shall keep an eye on them in future years . As I was reasonably close , I decided to visit the small reserve that I visited when I visited the other EPO colony . On the track , in shady conditions , I noticed a 'white' butterfly , flying towards me , stopping at times at plants of Garlic Mustard/Jack-by-the-Hedge . As It got closer , I could see it was a female Orange Tip , and as she stopped about 10 metres in front , I moved in to get a shot , but she was away again before I could do so . Keeping an eye on the plant that she stopped at , I had a good look , and found her egg , layed directly behind the flower . Of interest , the female will only lay a single egg on each plant , the reason being that when hatched , the caterpillars have 'cannibalistic' tendencies . By the time I reached the reserve , I was greeted with sunshine , but I could see from the sky it wasn't going to last . 3 male Brimstones were patrolling the top of the slope , scraping on a regular basis with 2 Green-veined Whites , this one refuelling on Bugle . Halfway along the slope , a very fresh Green Hairstreak flew by , and I managed to follow it by eye as it landed on the vegetation . I followed carefully , and found a female , egg laying in the fresh top leaves of Common Rock-rose-Helianthemum nummularium , her abdomen reaching as far down as she could manage . When she moved on to lay further eggs , her efforts could be seen , nestled down amongst the fresh young leaves . In one area of the grassland , at least four of these Bees , probably one of the 'mining' species , were flying in to their nest sites , carrying lengths of material beneath them , and pulling it into the nest , in this case , the area middle right of the picture . The piece this one was carrying was bigger than a match .
And finally , I know I posted this moth species before , but the way it was posed on the Germander Speedwell , I couldn't resist posting Pyrausta nigrata again .
And really finally , ShySongbird commented last night that St.Mark's Flies are said to last about a fortnight after St.Mark's day , 25th.April . Another week and they will have doubled their lifespan , and provided a good food source for many birds , but there were still lots of them still around today , especially along the fieldside hedgerows .
Two days volunteering now , but Wednesday is Dormouse/Adder survey day , so it could be interesting .
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