Monday, 9 August 2010

Monday 9th.August 2010

With today forecast to be the best day of the week , I had 3 species in my mind when I set off this morning , Silver-spotted Skipper , Brown Hairstreak and Clouded Yellow .
My first stop was Denbigh's Hillside , overlooking the outskirts of Dorking , Where I hoped to find the Skipper and Yellow . Having driven there in sunshine , I arrived just as some large dark clouds rolled in and the wind increased . The hillside was alive with Chalkhill Blues , but as I was in Surrey , I could forget about counting them and just enjoy them . Mating couples were everywhere , and even when a male did manage to join with a female , there were always other males trying to muscle in on the action , like these two making it a foursome . The wind was making photography very difficult and with looking down all the time , I missed a Common Buzzard until it called right overhead , providing another of my silhouette shots of the species . One surprise on the butterfly species found ,was a second brood Dingy Skipper , my first 2nd.brood sighting , and the first brood found mid May-mid June . It took a little while to get my first target species , but eventually , a Silver-spotted Skipper settled on a Black Knapweed and I managed a couple of shots . I only saw 8/10 specimens on the visit , as they have only just emerged , and that meant that they were in really nice condition . Also on the wing were lots of second brood Adonis Blue , the males with their vibrant blue colouring . Common Blues were also about , so it was hard work separating some of the Blues . The clouds I mentioned stayed for the rest of my visit , which put the butterflies down , but gave a chance to look at some of the chalk grassland flowers , like ,
the parasitic Common Dodder-Cuscuta epithymum , using Black Knapweed as a climbing frame .

Eyebright-Euphrasia officinalis , which was used to make ladies eyes sparkle ,
Harebell-Campanula rotundifolia , another of the same family , Clustered Bellflower-Campanula glomerata ,
Ploughman's Spikenard-Inula conyza , which was used as a house deoderant ,and Restharrow-Ononis repens , a member of the Pea family .
I didn't see a Red Admiral , Small Tortoiseshell , Comma on the site , just one Large White , and no sign of a Clouded Yellow .
From there , I headed for a site near Gatwick Airport , to search for Brown Hairstreak . On arrival , I couldn't believe my eyes with the flood plain of the River Mole , flailed to within an inch of the ground , and with that , an abundance of nectar rich plants that attracted and sustained lots of invertebrates . A local dog walker said it had been done in the last two weeks , when most of the plants would have been in full flower , why ?
I checked out the spot where I have had Brown Hairstreaks in previous years , but there was no movement at all . The area where I had photographed Clouded Yellow in the past , had also been raised to the ground , so I missed out on them again . After over an hour , I decided to go round to another site , on the same river , but the other side of the airport . If anything , the wind was even stronger here , but I checked the large stands of Blackthorn , and any blossom in the area . I must admit , I was beginning to think it wasn't going to be , and decided once more round the bushes , then home . In a sheltered gap in the Blackthorn with Bramble filling the space , an area I had searched every inch of on previous visits , I finally got my second target species , Brown Hairstreak , at last .
I drove home happy , two out of three ain't bad !


Kingsdowner said...

Well done with the 'streak, in very challenging conditions.
The only Clouded Yellows that I've heard about this year are a brood that managed to overwinter on Dover cliffs.

Phil said...

Looks like a bit of a Chalkhill Blue orgy to me greenie, not surprised you nearly missed the Buzzard overhead. I've not seen one Clouded Yellow so far this year but I live in hope. Great Hairstreak shot.

Warren Baker said...

Bloody good photo's Greenie, especially that Brown Hairstreak.

I see there are slash and burn merchants everywhere now :-(

Anyway, whats the chances of me finding a B H on my patch, I have got some Blackthorn ????

Greenie said...

Warren ,
I would love to say that you have every chance of getting a Brown Hairstreak on the Blackthorn on your patch .
But the truth is that there are no known sites in Kent , but that doesn't mean that there aren't any , as they are the most elusive of species . I always have a good look at Blackthorn that wasn't cut back the previous winter , as this is the problem with the species , as it lays it's eggs on the outer , young shoots , the ones that are cut with the flail during hedge trimming . I would add that I have never been successful in my search in Kent .
The nearest sites I know are in Sussex and Hampshire , sorry to be the bearer of bad news .

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