Monday, 18 April 2011

Monday 18th.April 2011

The day couldn't have started better , as near the Farm lake , I spotted my first Swallow of the year on the overhead wires . It got even better when I met up with Ken/Focusing on Wildlife , at the foot of the Down , to see if we could break the long lasting tag of being 'an Adder virgin' , not having seen one in the wild before . The sun soon lifted the mist , and things were looking good . We set off over the same route I used when Phil/Sharp by Nature joined me a week ago . But , after the first 20 minutes or so , things were not going to plan . The places where animals had been laying out to warm up on so many previous visits , were now empty , and I think Ken was starting to wonder if he was going to remain a 'virgin' for even longer . Half an hour in , and with sweat on the brow , I finally found a male laying out against some scrub , Ken was a 'virgin' no longer . We pushed on , without any other sightings , except that of the previous mentioned Phil/ Sharp by Nature walking towards us with his good lady . They had spotted a Grass Snake almost immediately on site , but were having the same luck as us since then . We then went our separate ways , and with the temperature rising , butterflies were starting to emerge . A fast moving Grizzled Skipper gave no chance of a shot , but the first of a good number of Green Hairstreaks gave Ken's camera a chance to get working . Later , by a metal gate , we found a Grizzled Skipper nectaring on Dandelion , and made up for the earlier fast flier . This Skipper , first to emerge , is also the smallest of the species , even the Small Skipper . Nearby , a Common Whitethroat was found singing from deep in scrub , but just occasionally showing . Whilst walking the bottom path , we came across a juvenile Adder , probably in it's second year , but being so small , disappeared very quickly into the vegetation . With just Common Lizards and Slow Worms being found , we decided to trespass on Phil's patch , whilst he was away , and set off for New Hythe . Arriving at the Water Treatment entrance , a quick lunch , serenaded by a Blackcap in an Elder ,
and it was off looking for Water Voles . I'm afraid that didn't go to plan , as nobody seemed to have told the Water Voles , but we did hear a Willow Warbler in song . As we reached the scrub areas , the first of at least 4 Nightingales were heard , but as so often the way , none were seen , even though we spent 20 minutes searching a patch of scrub , with a bird singing less than 20 feet away . Some consolation was a Cuckoo , that called 3/4 times in the distance , around the river . We decided to get back to the car and head for the sunken marsh , in the hope of finding the Cuckoo , and were escorted off the scrub area by this Grey Heron . The area around the Millstream was showing promise for the migrant species arriving , with plenty of insects about , especially St.Mark's flies , albeit a week early .

Getting away from the noise and smell of the paper works , a loop of the sunken marsh found several singing Cettis Warblers , but no sign of the Cuckoo , and with the river very high , very little else of interest was found until about to enter the tunnel back to the car park , a Reed Warbler was hear near where the Mute Swans are nesting .

The most enjoyable day ended with 10 butterfly species being recorded , but I just wish the Adders had performed better for Ken .

And finally , although I still haven't had a positive 'yes or no' on the mystery butterfly from the Common , I am posting the shot of the faded and tatty specimen that I think , having seen it in the flesh and in flight , is a Large Tortoiseshell , a rare migrant species that was found in the South up until the last war , before becoming extinct . I think the fact that it has lost most of it's hindwings will make ID harder and also the fact that I only managed the side on shot before it departed at speed . So it's back to wait and see .


Phil said...

Hi Greenie. Certainly a different day than last week. But at least you and Ken got to see an Adder.
Sounds like New Hythe was a bit quiet. Doesn't bode well for me tomorrow.
I hope your mystery butterfly turns out to be a Large Tortoiseshell. What a great find that would be, i'll keep my fingers crossed!

ShySongbird said...

Even though the Adders weren't showing too well it still sounded like you had a good time Greenie.

Lovely Skipper photos and nice to see the Common Whitethroat too.

You have had me going back through all my old Small Tortoiseshell photos 'just in case' but no, try as I might I couldn't turn one of them into a Large ;) Comparing yours with photos of the Large T it does look like it could be to me. What a shame it wasn't in better condition. It will be fascinating to see what your experts think, I shall look forward to the outcome.

Dean said...

I`d stick my neck out and say DEFINITELY. Every marking on the forewings are bang on for that species.

Kingsdowner said...

Interesting mystery. I can't pretend to assist, apart from passing the link to another butterflier.
Here's hoping.

Marianne said...

Hello Greenie,

The spot pattern looks good for Large Tortie to me too. Also, at this time of year (and given its condition) it would be much more likely to be a local hibernator rather than an immigrant - exciting stuff!

Ken. said...

Hi Greenie.
Thanks for a great day out, and showing me some wildlife that I have never seen before.
Like a.l great days out, the time went way too quick.
I will blog on Tuesday. Thanks again :-)

RogerW said...

If it walks like a duck and it quacks like a duck...
I've actually been lucky enough to see Large Tortoiseshells, over on the continent (Switzerland)... including ones that have looked exactly like yours.
I don't see how anyone could be non-committal about giving yours a positive indentification.
Well done for spotting it

RogerW said...

Well, I've found my own photos and have now uploaded a couple to photobucket(dotcom).
As well as the LT I also have a whole colony of those orange and black beetles.
Apparently I can't include direct links so please check out "Large Tortoiseshell" and "African Mask beetles" under username RogerW800