Monday, 11 April 2011

Monday 11th. April 2011

A day planned in the depths of Winter , whilst searching for the elusive New Hythe Bitterns , came to fruition today , When I met up with Phil (Mr.Bittern) Sharp/Sharp by Nature , up on the Downs , to see what we could find , with reptiles and butterflies at the top of the list . I arrived a bit before the arranged time , and although the sun was only just casting it's warmth over the site , without much breeze , the temperature was already rising , but managed to find two Adders , one Grass Snake and several Common Lizards , so I knew Phil wouldn't be disappointed . He arrived in a tan worthy of someone who had not long returned from the Carribean , which in fact he had , and made me feel very palid . Fortunately , the first Adder was still in situ , so we got off to a good start . The Grass Snake proved camera shy and made off before a shutter actuated , but 3 Common Lizards posed nicely for Phil's camera . The second Adder also did a runner before Phil managed to get a shot . With the warmer temperature , animals were not in their expected locations , which made finding subjects for Phil's camera even harder . We did finally find a specimen laying out , but then came quite a long time without any Adders , but we did find an Adder slough , the shed skin of the animal and still the occasional Common Lizard or Slow Worm .Since my last visit , Common Milkwort/Polygala vulgaris , has come into flower to add more blue/violet colour to the Common Dog Violets , and also joined by the yellow of Crosswort/Cruciata laevipes , a member of the Bedstraw family . By now , butterfly numbers had increased , the most numerous being Brimstones , including many females , looking for , finding and laying their eggs on the just opened , tenderest leaves of the Buckthorn . The lozenge shaped egg seen here at 2 o'clock . Shortly afterwards , we found our first Green Hairstreak of the day , once again down in the grass , and this was only the start , as along the bottom track , another specimen , unusual in that it only had one spot forming it's 'streak' , and blending in wonderfully with the green of the Ivy that it was resting on . Of interest , the green on the underside of the wing , is produced by the effects of light on the tiny scales of the wings , resulting in only the green colour of the spectrum reaching the viewer's eye . Also it is the only British Hairstreak which does not have small 'tails' on the hind-wings . Further on , a fast moving insect caught our attention , which , when it finally came to rest , proved to be our first Grizzled Skipper of the year . Just time to get a record shot , and it was off again . Getting back to where I had seen the Grass Snake before Phil arrived , we both set about looking for it , and Phil spotted not the one , but two Grass Snakes , in what could only be described as 'a bit of hanky panky' , what appeared to be the lighter coloured male , trying to assume the same the same position as the female . Phil whispered something about 'spoons' , whatever that meant ! I think Phil , who was further to the left got some clearer shots of the pair . After a while , they realised that we were there and moved off , so after finding a male and female Adder together , we thought we should leave them to it , and headed off for a look at the Early Purple Orchids , which have come on well since last visit . On the way back , yet more Green Hairstreaks , and by a stroke of luck , two males , as usual arguing about ownership of an area , were caught showing top , plain brown , and underwing colours in the same shot . Shortly afterwards , we were both bemused watching a Bee , collecting varying lengths of dead material and bringing it back to the nest it was constructing in the grass . Hopefully the lengths of material can be seen in these two shots . It kept our attention for about half an hour , I just hope no one was watching us ! We had a walk to another site , but that was very quiet apart from a couple of Peacock butterflies . Walking back to the cars , Phil spotted a Common Buzzard , soaring high above us , which become 2 , 3 and finally 4 , too high to get a decent shot , especially as a couple of times two of them 'touched talons' . Almost within site of the cars , Phil heard a rustle in the roadside vegetation , and looking down , we saw a male Adder , not in the browns and blacks , but in black an white , full fighting/mating colours . Phil's camera was in the bag , mine was still set on manual focus , having tried to get a shot of the Buzzards , and by the time either of us were ready to take a shot , the Adder had departed , so no shot , but a really good sighting to finish a great 5 hours , in great weather and very good company . Brimstone numbers must have been 20+ , Green Hairstreak 6+ and Orange Tips 5+ , along with the odd Green-veined White , interest was maintained throughout the visit . And finally , three shots for the detectives , a caterpillar , Thanks to Dean/DDD for identifying it as that of The Drinker moth . a tiny moth with very long antennae - not the usual one with the gold flash on the wings , Once again thanks to Dean/DDD identified as Nematopogon sp. possibly swammerdamella . small moth , about the size of Pyraustra purpuralis , with a striped abdomen .Unless of course , Phil has already identified them .

4 comments:

Phil said...

Hi Greenie. Thankfully we both appear to have similar accounts of the day, which given my memory is no mean feat.
I ran out of time so couldn't ID the bees and moths and I also forgot to post the caterpillar. But never mind, I had a great day and many thanks for sharing your boundless knowledge!

Dean said...

Hi, Greenie. The caterpillar looks like that of The Drinker. The first moth is a Nematopogon,possibly swammerdamella and the last one`s got me puzzled for the mo. I`ll try to get an id of that one later.

Alan Pavey said...

Hi Greenie, nice shots of Green Hairstreak, I've never seen one, I'm hoping that might change this year, sounds like you had a very productive time out. :-)

ShySongbird said...

What a good day you both had. I have just come from Phil's blog and he clearly enjoyed it too...and who wouldn't? If only I lived nearer...

You got some great snake views but then I wouldn't expect anything less ;)

I really am captivated by the Green Hairstreak (and was last year too) and the information you included was fascinating.