Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Wednesday 5th.May 2010

An unexpected few hours out today , after my Warden cancelled the day's work up on the Greensand Ridge . The wind had dropped , but after a bright start , in rolled the cloud again . So , it was without much hope that I set off for the Downs , looking for reptiles and butterflies . This was quickly confirmed on arrival , with the targets conspicuous by their absence . What was very noticeable since my last visit was the number of chalk grassland plants that were into or coming into flower . The blue Common Milkwort/Polygala vulgaris was everywhere , but on the side of one of the tracks , I found a mauve specimen , and can also be found in pink , white and white tipped mauve or blue . Another blue flower found in good numbers was Germander Speedwell/Veronica chamaedrys , identified from the other Speedwells by it's flat stalks , with two lines of hairs running along the edges of the flatted stalks . Salad Burnet has been showing it's flower buds for some time now , but today I found the first flowers . In some areas of the chalk grassland , great swathes of Crosswort/Cruciata laevipes are bringing a yellow wash to the grass . Resting on this one were the flowers , yet to open of Birdsfoot Trefoil/Lotus corniculatus , one of it's common names being Bacon and Eggs , from it's red and yellow colouring when young . On the site , I recorded 37 Early Purple Orchids , and amongst the grass , the rosettes of Fragrant Orchids/Gymnadenia conopsea , are pushing through well . A couple of sunnier periods did encourage a few butterflies out , but only four species were recorded . Surprisingly , Grizzled Skipper topped the list , with 8 . The darker colouring of this specimen , could well identify it as a female , but the two sexes are difficult to separate . Just behind came the Dingy Skipper with 7 . This species is even harder to tell the sexes apart , so I am assuming that from the fact that this specimen was guarding his high ground , this was a male . Only other species recorded today were a single each of Speckled Wood and Peacock .
Bird sightings were not great either , but several Common Whitethroats , like this one , were singing to denote their territories . I tried to get a better shot of one , but after waiting 10 minutes or so for the bird to show , it immediately flew off , leaving me with a blur . The other usual Warblers we recorded and a Yellowhammer , heard , but never seen . All over the site were Roman snails , and like most things at this time of year , they were ensuring more would be seen next year . I did record a few reptiles , mainly Slow Worms , but I did find an immature female Adder , probably born the year before last , with two Slow Worms . Not the best of shots , but she was already moving off as the shutter went . One other Adder , an orangey adult female , was also recorded , tucked well down in the grass .
Only other interest , were two moths . The first a day flying species , Burnet Companion had me thinking , as with the wings closed the orange on the hindwings was not showing . The second , a smaller specimen , I thought had something with blood in it's name , with two purple/red bars across the wings , but I have not been able to ID it . Any ideas please ?


Phil said...

Hi Greenie. Could be Small Purple-barred (Phytometra viridaria). It looks quite similar.

ShySongbird said...

A great selection today, Greenie and an interesting read! I always knew the Bird'sfoot Trefoil as Eggs and Bacon, rather than the other way round but perhaps that depends on where you live.

I wonder if we might have identified that moth last year, it looks ever so familiar but I can't remember what it was and can't seem to find it in my book this time! I looked back at your old posts but there are no pics, I remember now you saying you had deleted them. The moth Phil mentioned looks a bit too bright to me but that could be the photo.

Anonymous said...

Small Purple-barred it is Greenie.

Some cracking shots today mate.

Greenie said...

Phil / Dean ,
Thanks for the ID and confirmation .

ShySongbird ,
I felt that I had come across it before , but the memory !

Greenie said...

ShySongbird ,
Referring to my 1960 'Oxford Book of Wild Flowers', we are probably both correct with the common name of Birdsfoot Trefoil . The book says that this plant has more than 70 common names , quoting , Bacon-and-Eggs , Fingers-and-Thumbs , Lady's Fingers ,Lady's Slipper ( I thought that was an Orchid !) , and Tom Thumb . So it is very probable that Eggs-and-Bacon would be on that list as well .