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 .
2 hours ago