Friday, 2 July 2010

Friday 2nd.July 2010

With uncertainty over the weather forecast for today , I decided to stay local , and almost duplicate yesterday's visits , without the encumbrance of the timed butterfly transect at High Elms . Another reason being that I am leading a visit to the site for members of Butterfly Conservation , Kent Branch , to Kent's top SWF site , their words not mine , in 3 weeks time , and wanted to find the areas that SWF and WA are using , not to say that they will be there on the day .
An extra visit first to a second Purple Hairstreak site , up on West Wickham Common . The conditions were right , with a bit less wind than yesterday , but still nothing to report on the PH scene . I however , did get an opportunity for a less than normal view of a very fresh looking Comma . In another Bramble patch , it was very quickly obvious that there had been an explosion of the Longhorn Beetle-Strangalia maculata , what a wonderful name . They look so ungainly in flight , with long legs dangling below , similar to the St.Mark's Fly . But , when a female turns up on the scene , it's a case of all pile on , and those legs can be used to force your opponent off . I followed up with a visit to the Ash on the Common , once again coming away empty handed .

High Elms was already steamy when I arrived in the car park , and following the walk towards Burnt Gorse and the 'White Admiral glade' , so was I . The Bramble patches that the White Admirals and Silver Wash Fritillaries visit , are bathed in sunlight , then as the sun gets higher , they are in shade and no longer used , the butterflies using others that have come into the sunshine . So it was a case of following the sun , and waiting for the butterflies to arrive , either looking for females or using the Bramble as a filling station , as this one was doing . The WA must have one of the most colourful underwings , only to be outdone by the Purple Emperor in my mind . In a quiet spell , I ventured out of the glade and headed for the heat of Burnt Gorse , well named in the present conditions , where I found the second Bee Orchid of the season . Like many species , I can remember when they were found in their 10s , not the odd one or two . In the small corridor that leads towards Hang Grove , I found 4 specimens of White Mullein-Verbascum lychnitis , not a rare plant , but uncommon . As I reached the 5 bar gate at the top , and as far as one can go , a noisy tractor carrying bales of silage , must have disturbed a large bird , that would have been very close to the gate . By the time I got the 100mm lens on it , it was heading for the woods . A Common Buzzard , I think , but some unusual light patches towards the end of the wing . Also at the gate was another of my favourites Vervain-Verbena officinalis , a super little flower . Back in the heat of Burnt Gorse , the Black Knapweed-Centaurea nigra , has come into flower , just in time for the SWFs .
Speaking of which , I have increased my estimate after today's visit to 10+ , and in the small glade that the females seem to prefer for egg laying , I found a pair mating at about head height on a small Beech . It can be seen from this shot exactly how they get their name , the underwing washed with silver .
Apart from those recorded in 'White Admiral glade' , I also recorded the species again on the edge of Burnt Gorse and in this small glade too , and have increased my estimate of WA to 8+ . I didn't get a sighting of the White-letter Hairstreak that Keith saw yesterday though . As broken cloud started to roll in , another look at WA glade produced a few more sightings , but in between , I noticed some small , Hairstreak sized butterflies , duelling at the top of a small Ash . Right next to it is a Wych Elm , and many of the leaves on this tree have been munched . Looking into the sun , I only had silhouettes of the butterflies , with no colours or markings discernable . They could have been White-letter or Purple Hairstreaks , I will have to keep an eye on that tree .
On the way back to the car , a caterpillar literally dropped to the ground in front of me , just as I was about to pick up a feather from a Great Spotted Woodpecker . If my memory serves me right , it is the caterpillar of the Buff Tip moth , ID'd by Dean a while back , which had probably been blown out of a tree by the increasing wind . On the edge of the car park , another caterpillar , and another ID'd by Dean , that of the Yellow-tailed moth . If you want to see what this will pupate into , have a look at the superb shots on Dean's blog/DDD , posted on the 29th June , just be careful where you step going back to that date !
And finally , having reached my 500th. post in just over 2 years , I've decided to slow down a bit on posts , as I seem to be living on this computer these days . I also need to spend some serious time on the pictures taken since getting the new camera . As well as being fewer , I think future posts will be shorter too .


Warren Baker said...

This post has been as interesting as the other 499 Greenie!

I know what you mean by ''living on the computer'' It takes a lot of effort to keep up daily posts.

I hope you keep yours going as often as possible - even if they are shorter. :-)

Anonymous said...

Congratulations on the 500, Greenie. Your blog is invariably an education and a delight.

Anonymous said...

"just be careful where you step going back to that date"

Brilliant, Greenie and that goes for the contents of this post.

Your memory does serve you correct regards the Buff-tip larva.
"You have learnt well, my young Jedi" ;-)

Phil said...

Can't say as I blame you Greenie. I certainly wouldn't have the time or stamina for daily posts. I always enjoy your posts but i'm looking forward to the new streamlined look!

ShySongbird said...

The whole blogging thing while most enjoyable is hugely time consuming Greenie and I find it increasingly difficult to get even as few posts out as I do. It has always amazed me how anyone can post daily and keep up with comments etc. As you imply just processing the photos takes time.

I agree with Rob that your blog is an education and a delight and I thank you for that. Whenever and however you decide to blog in the future your posts will always be eagerly anticipated!

Another informative and interesting post today, I particularly liked seeing the SWF, the White Admiral and the Bee Orchid.

Dave J. said...

Hi Greenie
Love the bee Orchid, there used to be quite a few patches of these on the chalk downs above Snodland.
Thanks for the great butterfly shots and also the insects.