Thursday, 10 June 2010

Thursday 10th.June 2010

A real change in the weather today , with intermittent drizzle and a cool wind all morning , and by mid afternoon , constant rain .
Had the weather been decent , I intended heading for Ashdown Forest for the Silver Studded Blue butterfly , but I decided to stay local and went looking for Bee Orchids , up on the Common . I checked out the places where they are usually found , but no sign , not even the odd Common Spotted Orchid that is found with them . Checking out the glade that we made a couple of years ago now , it looks like the Broad Leaved Helleborines are going to have an even better year than

last . Although not yet in flower , I reached the 50 mark without having to look too hard . In the adjoining glade , lots of Goatsbeard-Tragopogon pratensis , and in this shot , all three stages of it's growth , the open flower , as it was before noon , the flowers still to open and behind , the large pappus/seed head . Over on the heathland , I went to check on the Brimstone caterpillars on the Buckthorn , which is now coming into flower and attracting lots of bees . But , before finding any Brimstone caterpillars , I found a couple of other ones , which I thought at the time might be Vapourer moth caterpillars , but since checking , I find that they are not . I will keep checking , but if anyone has any ideas ? Now positively identified as the caterpillar of the Vapourer moth . Many thanks to Dean /DDD , again ! I then started finding the Brimstone caterpillars , some still quite small , but some , like this one , almost full size . I found about 6/8 around this size and tied some dried grass around the branches that I found them on , in the hope that they pupate where I found them , and I can finally find a Brimstone chrysalis .
Down on the ground , the Bell Heather-Erica cinerea has started to flower , and the tiny white flowers of the Heath Bedstraw-Galium saxatile , sets the first off well . It was on the Heather -Calluna vulgaris that I found several of these fast moving waspy looking insects . They hardly ever stopped , and this shot was the clearest of the ones I managed , again , any ideas ?
Now identified by Phil/Sharp by Nature as the Conopid fly , Conops quadrifasciatus . Thanks very much for your help , again , Phil . In another glade , Lucerne/Alfalfa -Medicago sativa , a member of the Pea family , probably brought in on the mowers that cut the glades in the Autumn . This plant can be found in varying shades of purple , also yellow , green and black . Also many hybrids between them , and is often grown as cattle fodder . On the edges of the glades and in the woodland , Common Cow-wheat-Melampyrum pratense , a member of the Figwort family is also in flower . This is the food plant of the Heath Fritillary butterfly , but alas , the butterfly is not found here . In a sheltered corner , even though the sun wasn't shining , the longhorn moth Nemorphora degeerella were still squabbling over who should sit in the sun , when it does come out . Heading back to the car , around an old fire site , Common Toadflax-Linaria vulgaris , another of the Figwort family , was doing it's best to cheer up a grey day . A few Common Heath moths were seen , but not a single butterfly , but when they do fly again , more nectar in the form of Bramble flowers , will be waiting for them .
Blackcap , Chiffchaff , Bullfinch , Wren and Song Thrush were all heard , but none stayed around for a photo .


Phil said...

Hi Greenie. Very interesting post as ever. I think your mystery insect might be one of the Ichneumons, possibly Rhyssa persuasoria.

Ken Browne. said...

Hi Greenie.
I like the photo of the Longhorn Moth. First time I have seen one.
I was wondering if your caterpillar might me one of the Tussock Moth family.

Phil said...

Alternatively Greenie, how about the Conopid fly, Conops quadrifasciatus. The Ichneumon which I mentioned earlier is in fact black and white not black and yellow so I think that rules it out.

Anonymous said...

I can`t see it being anything else but Vapourer, Greenie. Everything`s spot on for that species.

Greenie said...

Phill ,
Must admit , when I looked up your Rhyssa persuasoria , it said it was the largest Ichneumon Wasp in the UK , and the ones I found were small . However , your Conops quadrifasciatus fits the bill much better , and I thank you once again for your detective work .

Ken ,
Check out your Tussock family , but couldn't find a match , but thanks very much for your suggestion .

Dean ,
Should have stuck with my initial ID . I yooked up other shots I had taken of Vapourer a few years ago , and all four tufts on the back were yellow , which made me look elsewhere . After your comment , looked again , and found images on the web of specimens with white tufts and one exactly the same as the one I photographed . They are obviously variable in colour or at different stages of growth . Thanks very much for your help , again .

ShySongbird said...

A good day, Greenie despite the weather, with lots of interest as ever. I am struggling to keep up with comments at the moment due to family 'stuff' :( and am really missing not being able to play detective, I always enjoy that (not sure if I would have managed today's though) but hope by next week to have more time.

Good news about the B L Helleborines which shows how worthwhile your work is.