The first two hours this morning has convinced me that Purple Hairstreak numbers are going to be low this year . An hour at the Ash on Hayes Common , only produced 2/3 sightings , all right at the top of the tree . Nothing came down to the Bracken below , and even Meadow Browns and Skippers seemed reluctant to fly in what should be a grassy glade , but has a 'scorched earth' look about it . Two plants , one either side of the road near the car park , were the only other interest .Broad-leaved Everlasting Pea-Lathyrus latifolius , a possible garden escape , and Tansy-Tanacetum parthenium , described as strongly aromatic , but of what ? As can be seen , the flowers are rayless and button-like .
Still looking for PHs , I visited the next three best sites for sightings last year , all on West Wickham Common . The first , Brambles surrounded by Oak trees , produced nothing better than a male Gatekeeper . The second , two Oaks at the top of a slope covered in Bramble , produced 3 sightings which actually came down , but into the Bramble on the steep slope , and as I very nearly finished up going head first down the slope last year , I didn't follow . The third , a small depression , covered in Bramble and surrounded by Oaks , looked as if it was going to be another zero , until , just before leaving , a PH literally fell out of one of the Oaks , landing on the Bracken around the edge . A pristine male , and not in a hurry to move off , gave plenty of photo opportunities , during a period of mostly cloudy skies . Each time the sun did come out , I waited for him to open those wings , but would he ? Eventually I gave up , but before going , offered him my finger , which he accepted , and in return , open those wings fully . Just a shame the sun was in , as the purple iridescence didn't show at it's best . After taking some salts from the sweat on my finger , he flew off onto one of the Oaks .
A short visit to Burnt Gorse as the temperature rose further and the humidity rose with it . Silver Washed Fritillaries and White Admiral numbers seemed slightly less , but still very active . I did see one female SWF egg laying and another two females being courted . The second female being courted by three males , with her flying in a straight line , and the three males corkscrewing around her .
At the end of Burnt Gorse , two of the four White Mulleins that I posted a few days ago , are now sporting the caterpillar of the Mullein moth .
And finally , a shot that I took the other day , not realising that the camera was set on monochrome . Amazing how much wing damage has been done in a short time , caused by a mixture of male skirmishes and general damage from flying through woodland .