Monday, 30 August 2010

Monday 30th.August 2010

With butterfly numbers dwindling fast , I decided to have a last visit of the year to Steers Field , on the Downs above Dorking , and the dwindling numbers were apparent as soon as I got on site . Once again , a stiff breeze was blowing across the hillside , as it was last visit , but it was no longer jumping with butterflies . Those that were about , were a mixture of very faded and reasonably fresh specimens .In the early morning light , a pair of Adonis Blues were mating , with another male waiting to take over given the opportunity .I found about 6/8 Silver-spotted Skippers , more than last visit , but it was hard work finding them , especially given the breeze . On the top path , I found several Nomada goodeniana , a species of Cuckoo Bee , this one having just caught another insect , which it carried to a tunnel on the ground , before disappearing .
Yet again , I've got it wrong . Many thenks to Gregg for identifying the above as a solitary wasp Cerceris rybyensis . The annoying thing is that I thought I was spot on this time !

On a lower track , I found this pellet , which I put on the stone to photograph . It contained snail shells and lots of other debris , possibly that of a Little Owl ? Even Chalkhill Blue numbers were well reduced , but there is still time to find a mate . At the bottom of the hillside , for the second time running , I found a second brood Dingy Skipper . Typical , never found a second brood before , now two this year .
Also at the bottom of the hillside , were good numbers of Swallows and in amongst them , a smattering of House Martins , one pictured .
Carrion Crows were the largest bird species seen after the Hirondines , but Kestrel and Sparrowhawk were also seen . The star of the day though , was a juvenile/female Common Redstart which I put up from the scrub . I've never seen them here before , so would assume that they were just passing through on passage . I hung about hoping that it would pose for a shot , but it wasn't seen again , unfortunately .
By lunchtime , a lot of family and walking groups were trekking across the hillside , so I decided to move on , even though the cloud was increasing .
My other stop was a large area of Blackthorn bushes , down near Gatwick Airport . On my last visit here , I found a single pristine male Brown Hairstreak . Within 10 metres of where I had photographed that male , I found this not at all pristine female , looking as if she has been the object of several bird attacks .Shortly after she flew off , I found another female , a Southern Hawker this time , on the nearby Brambles .Also on the Brambles was this Speckled Wood .
Having been walking all day , I was about ready to leave the second site , but decided to have a look at an area near the road . A movement in the vegetation revealed a second female Brown Hairstreak . This one was resting for a while , before returning to young Blackthorn shoots , deep in the vegetation , to lay her eggs . I watched her for 10/15 minutes , with the sound of aircraft lading and taking off , within about 1/4 of a mile from where I was standing .


Anonymous said...

Nice photos, especially the Dingy Skipper. Your Cuckoo bee this time is a solitary wasp, Cerceris rybyensis, sorry!


Warren Baker said...

Those Brown hairstreak are real beauties Greenie :-)

Well done on seeing that Redstart too, a bird on passage and quite a find, I'm hoping I might just get one on my patch next month.

ShySongbird said...

A good day out, Greenie and you got some very nice photos too. I enjoyed seeing the Adonis Blues and the Brown Hairstreak, two butterflies that I have yet to see!