Saturday, 23 April 2011

Saturday 23rd. April 2011

With another hot day on the cards , I set off to do the full butterfly transect at High Elms in 16C.
By the time I finished , another 10C. had been added , and I was glad to get into the shade . Just a single Swallow watched me from the wires as I passed by the Farm lake . On arrival at the Golf Club car park , it was obvious that many golfers were out early , probably like me to avoid the worst of the heat . A quick look at the dipping pond revealed another young family , with a female Mallard and her brood of 13 ducklings , let's hope it's a lucky number for them . Out of shot , two Drakes were chasing her at every opportunity , with other things on their minds .
The butterfly transect started very quietly with just a single Speckled Wood being found , but in the small open area before the fenced off Conservation Field , two small sparring butterflies , which I thought at first were both Grizzled Skippers , turned out to be one of that species and the other , my first Dingy Skipper of the year , above , and the first of several recorded today . This area and the Conservation Field yielded 4 Grizzled and no less than 11 Dingy Skippers , along with small numbers of 5 other species . At the top of Burnt Gorse , a couple of small brown beetles on the head of a Garlic Mustard/Jack-by-the-Hedge plant caught my eye . Looking through the book at home , I was surprised when the best fit I got was that of a Ladybird , Coccidula rufa , no common name , but of course I stand to be corrected as always . I must admit , I thought the area would be awash with Green Hairstreaks , but only three were recorded . Still not a lot of pollen sources yet , but the Ox-eye Daisies/Leucanthemum vulgare are just about to open and that will improve things . Also just starting to open are the flowers of Salad Burnet/Sanguisorba minor . The area produced more Skippers , with 6 more Dingy and 3 more Grizzled , 2 Holly Blues and 3 Brimstones , including an egg laying female . Two more day flying moths were also recorded , Mother Shipton , named after the 'hags face' depicted on the topwing , and another of the Pyrausta species ,P.purpuralis , a species that is common on chalk grassland . A detour at the bottom of the slope to the edge of the woodland , found the two Early Purple Orchids , last seen just in leaf , looking very sultry in their woodland shade . Heading back towards the Orchid Glade , my first Bird's Nest Orchid of the year was found at the old , original site , the flower having just emerged . That encouraged me to check the new area found by Keith last year , where five more specimens were found , followed by six more in the area where the Beech Walk crosses the wide track , three of them right at the edge of the track , in a shaft of sunlight . Whilst looking for these Orchids , I also came across a very early White Helleborine amongst the leaf litter , although it was not yet in flower . The Yellow Archangel flowers are fully open now , looking very 'orchid like' themselves . I must admit , I was glad to be heading back to the car park by now , but was stopped out in the open by a Common Whitethroat , for once out in the open himself , and although only having the 100mm. macro lens on , managed to get a shot of sorts , whilst he was in full flow . During the visit , two Tawny Owls were heard calling , a good half mile apart , so most probably not the same bird .
The transect finished with 12 species being recorded , with the most pleasing being the 19 Dingy Skippers and 7 Grizzled Skippers found , many in areas where just the odd one has been recorded in the past .


Phil said...

Sounds like a good outing again Greenie, although I must say it's good to get out of the sun after a while. Although It doesn't seem to bother your Tawny Owls......they didn't give a hoot, or did they?

Alan Pavey said...

A really nice lot of butterflies today Greenie, again a couple I need to catch up with :-)

ShySongbird said...

It sounds like the Skippers are doing well there Greenie. Not butterflies I ever seem to see but perhaps now I have said that it will put the spell on it!

A very enjoyable read again.