With two days volunteering in front of me , and with a not very good forecast for the afternoon , I headed off to the Downs in the search of some new species for the year .
When I arrived at the first site , the sun was once again very watery , and everything was still very wet from the overnight rain . As I entered at the bottom of the slope , nearly every butterfly that I saw was a female Common Blue , not a male in sight . Some Dingy Skippers were also recorded , and some of them were now living up to their name , Dingy . I was just photographing a Common Spotted Orchid , when a small flash of silver caught my eye , and fortunately , I managed to follow it's flight to where it came to rest . My suspicions were confirmed , a very fresh emerged male Small Blue , the smallest butterfly in Britain . The underwing is very similar to the Holly Blue , but the colour and the size identify this superb little insect . I recorded the species on the site last year , and was glad to see that they had made it through the hard winter . Just a singleton here , but I recorded two other singletons on other areas of the slope ,and as I said , they have obviously only just emerged , so I look forward to finding more on future visits . A second Orchid species then caught my eye , one of just a pair of Man Orchids , growing where the ground vegetation was less dense . As I walked through that vegetation , I put up several Burnet Companion , Silver Y and Mother Shipton , all day flying moths , and several of these , which I believe to be Yellow Shell , if it is not , I'm sure that it will be corrected . The first of six Brown Argus recorded , all males was the next species found , this one must have been on the Fosters last night . In the shorter sward , a movement revealed a Green Hairstreak , still in very reasonable condition , sorry Warren .
Leaving the first site , to return later , I headed for the second site , a short distance away . Here , refugia have been laid , and I started turning them over . The odd Slow Worm , a male Adder in the grass close by to the refugia , then the jackpot . I turned over the tin , camera in hand , to find 1 female Adder , 2 male Adders and two Slow Worms , all underneath together . I had the 100 mm. lens on , and holding the tin in one hand , camera in the other , I couldn't get far enough away to get all the subjects in the viewfinder . Consequently , a photo of three Adders , none of them with a head and no sign of the Slow Worms , but it was the best I could do at the time . The light/dark brown one is the female , the black/dirty white one , bottom left , a male in breeding colours , and the black/pinky brown one in between , I would say was a non breeding male . I can assure that they all did have heads , and I got a shot of each one individually , which I have sent to the man who can recognise each one by the head patterns . Another tin revealed a couple of Common Lizards , both good sized adults , and each very different in colour , this species being very variable . Butterflies were much fewer on this site , but the slope was much more in the breeze , but 17 Common Blues and another Green Hairstreak , sorry again Warren , I won't post a shot of this one , were recorded . Heading back to continue with the first site , Speckled Wood was recorded . I had recorded good numbers of Small Heath , 15 in total , and on this section of the slope , I found at least 5 specimens that I am sure were females , from the size , and from their 'jizz' . A disturbed male heads off at speed and disappears into the grass , whereas these specimens , fluttered a few metres and settled again , and newly emerged too , by the look of them . The far end of the slope provided the third and fourth species of Orchids , a few Twayblades , and lots of Fragrant Orchids , many still in bud , but many more like those above , in full flower . The refugia did not only produce reptiles , a few insects were also found , like this Lesser Stag Beetle-Dorcus parallelopipedus . In all , 11 species of butterfly were recorded , the most numerous by far was the Common Blue , with 230 specimens on this , the first site . One of those eleven species provided the last find of the visit , when I recorded 3 pristine , freshly emerged Large Skippers , all in a very small area .
And finally , one for the detectives . I've found this beetle a few times recently , and have searched each time for it's identity , but have been unsuccessful . Any ideas ?
Since posting , I have done more searching , and found out that it is a Red-tipped Flower Beetle- Malachius bipustulatus . Should have known that with it sitting on a flower !
18 hours ago