Friday, 9 July 2010

Friday 9th.July 2010

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 .

7 comments:

Warren Baker said...

What a cracking PH photo Greenie - just what I wanted ! An open winged one :-)

Is it just too hot for Butterflies ?

Phil said...

Glad to see you didn't offer him the bad finger Greenie!
Plenty of butterflies on the wing at New Hythe today but no PH i'm afraid.

Dean said...

The last shot is excellent, Greenie.

Think i`ll try for both PH & WLH. Gonna be a difficult task, has i`ve only recorded the 2 species once (on the patch, that is).

John Young said...

Great finger shot Greenie and what a treat.

ShySongbird said...

Lovely PH, Greenie. There must be something special about your fingers (or what there is left of them!) as I have tried that trick and it hasn't worked so far! Great caterpillar photo too.

Adam said...

Hi Greenie

Thinking of paying a vist to High Elms tomorrow - got your map from last year. SW Frits are my main target and WL Hairstreak would be a bonus - good chance of seeing them tomorrow do you think?

Cheers

Adam
(adam.whitehouse@emr.ac.uk)

Greenie said...

Adam ,
SWF numbers are reasonable this year . Best places the paths and 2 small glades between Burnt Gorse and the Orchid Bank , also White Admiral . WLH are few so far , but have been recorded nectaring on Privet flower in the small glade near the 5 bar gate at Burnt Gorse .
Good luck .