Sunday, 23 May 2010

Sunday 23rd.May 2010

I decided to do the High Elms butterfly transect this morning , but on the way , stopped off at the old farmhouse where the House Martins have been very active as I have passed . I got some shots , but will post them in the next few days , whilst volunteering , three days at least this week , or this post will never end .
The temperature was already 16C when I parked up in the Golf Course car park , and crossed over into the conservation field side . Almost immediately I recorded a Red Admiral , and from it's jizz , a probable female looking to oviposit , but I could not get near enough for a shot and she was soon away . In the same triangle of uncut grassland was a Small Copper , another female I think , with the same agenda as the Red Admiral . As it was still morning , Goatsbeard-Tragopogon pratensis , commonly known as Jack-goes-to-bed-at Noon or Sleep-at Noon , referring to the flower's habit of shutting about midday . Easily overlooked as a Dandelion , but the green bracts are always longer than the yellow petals . Later , a pappus or clock , much larger than the Dandelion will be formed . Also , amongst the grass were several Mother Shipton-Callistege mi , so called , after the profile of a witch that appears on both forewings . Look for the eye on the left wing , then find the nose and chin of the witch . Just before entering the fenced Conservation Field , I recorded the first of the year Common Blue for the site , and in the fenced off area , the first Small Heath of the year . Several more male Common Blues were recorded in the bottom corner , along with a mating pair of Dingy Skippers , sorry you were working Keith ! The walk up to Burnt Gorse provided the less often seen side of a Speckled Wood , normally seen basking with wings open . Burnt Gorse itself produced lots more Dingy Skippers amongst other species , and as I was about to leave , I came across a pair of mating Common Blues . He obviously didn't hang about , I hadn't even seen a female till then . As I turned away , I noticed a couple by the bench with binoculars and camera . I asked if they were after butterflies , and Green Hairstreak was the reply , which they had already found . I pointed out the mating Common Blues , and they took their shots . Standing chatting about butterflies , a white flash passed us and landed in the grass . I went over and took an underside shot , as vegetation prevented a topside shot . As we had got as good as we could , I thought I would try the old finger trick for the first time this year to which the lady asked , ' are you Greenie '?
As it happens , they read this blog , and came looking for the Green Hairstreaks that I had mentioned . Oh , the moth by the way is a White Ermine-spilosoma lubricipeda .
Leaving them in the sunshine , I headed for the woodland to check on the Birds Nest Orchids . The number at the original site has doubled , to two , most disappointing . On my way to the new site found by Keith , I found a single under Beech , and lots more White Helleborines pushing through the leaf litter . It is going to be a good year for them . At the new site , 22 counted last visit , a magnificent count of 33 was made , with good chances of more to come , as some are just pushing through . The oldest ones are now in flower , using the word liberally . As I made my way back to the transect route , I found lots more White Helleborines and , by the side of one of the main paths , 3 more Birds Nest Orchids . The last butterfly species recorded was a single Peacock , on the bridleway back to the car park .
In all , 14 species were recorded - Small Copper (1) , Red Admiral (2) , Common Blue (15) , Large White (5) , Orange Tip (2) , Green Hairstreak (2) , Small Heath (1) , Dingy Skipper (24) , Grizzled Skipper (1) , Speckled Wood (5) , Green-veined White (1) , Brimstone (4) , Small White (1) and Peacock (1) .
Before getting in the car , I had a quick look at the dipping pond . Lots of damselfly activity , mostly male Common Blues , and lots of Large Reds , either in 'tandem' , or as many were , in the 'praying position' , with the male still clasping the female behind the head , as she inserts her eggs into plant tissue , which protects them from predators . Sometimes , she will walk backwards down the stem , and under the water surface whilst doing so .
By now , I was well cooked , and headed home for a 'cool' lunch .


Warren Baker said...

In the unlikely event that there are green hairstreaks on my patch, whats the habitat that i'll find them in ?

Wilma said...

That ermine is really something! And thanks for the explantion of he Mother Shipton ID. Great post.


Anonymous said...

Another good one Greenie.
I couldn`t get anywhere near the Small Heaths & Coppers that i saw yesterday.

ShySongbird said...

I know I keep saying it but your posts are so imformative...a real treat to visit! The Ermine Moth is a beauty, I have only ever seen them in books etc.

I missed commenting on your previous post due to ongoing, intermittent 'puter probs :( but thoroughly enjoyed it as always, especially the Great Spotted W's, that must have been great to see. I have been trying to get photos of a Blue Tit going in and out of a hole in a tree trunk to feed its young, I have been back several times and it is lovely to watch but virtually impossible to get photos as it is just too quick for me.

Warren Baker said...

Still cant find any Green hairstreaks Greenie :-(