Sunday, 8 May 2011

Sunday 8th. May 2011

A little more rain overnight and again a heavy shower early morning , then cleared to a sunny but very windy day . Although not ideal conditions , I set off to High Elms to do the butterfly transect , but stopped off on the way to have a look around the Farm lake . The water level was well up on last visit , so the owners had obviously been pumping in cold water from their arteasian well , which will put back the Odonata development . Having only found a few teneral , just emerged , specimens last time , it was good to find adult Large Red , Azure , Common Blue and Blue-tailed Damselflies (pictured above) , all well down in the vegetation to keep out of that wind . On my first lap around the lake , I found the female Mallard that had eight ducklings last visit , now down to a singleton , and also the Coots are down from 5 to 4 youngsters . Unfortunately there is no island for safe roosting on the lake , and the Grey Heron that flew off on my arrival , is probably to blame as well . The second lap , in the reverse direction , found the only butterfly recorded , a Dingy Skipper . The last few steps of this lap then put up a newly emerged Black-tailed Skimmer , that flew a few feet and landed again , enabling a shot . Most probably a male , but like the other Chasers and Skimmers , all immature specimens are the same colouration . If this is a male , it's abdomen will turn powder blue and as it's name implies , it will sport a black tip .

Arriving at High Elms , the wind was even stronger , and this told on the number of butterflies recorded on the day , but the species list was two better at 12 , than on the last transect . Common Blue and Small Heath were year firsts for the site , but just 6 of the former was way behind the 80+ recorded up on the Downs a few days ago . Once again , Dingy Skippers were the most numerous species . On the way up to Burnt Gorse , the Garlic Mustard/Jack-by-the-Hedge , is going to seed , and although a few Orange Tip eggs were found , many of the flower heads now have the next stage of the cycle on them , the 'canabalistic' caterpillar . Burnt Gorse was probably the windiest place of all with the wind coming straight down the Cudham Valley , consequently , anything found was low down amongst the vegetation . That's where I found this small moth , which , as I hit the button , took off revealing bright yellow underwings . Could it be a Small Yellow Underwing ? I do hope so , it's about time I got one right . Even the Green Hairstreaks weren't fighting today , the 3 recorded were found tucked up on Wayfarer trees on the edge of the woodland . Several day flying moths , including Silver Y , Mother Shipton , Burnet Companion and Pyrausta purpuralis were also recorded .

Over on the Orchid Bank , the Common Spotted variety are now showing their flower spikes , so they won't be long coming into bloom . Already in bloom , were the first 3 Man Orchids found on the site this year , wearing their stripey helmets . Checking on the area where Keith found the 30+ Bird's-nest Orchids last year , I could only find 11 this time , but still a good number , and a couple of them are almost fully in flower now . Whilst making my way through the woodland above Keith's site , I started finding good numbers of White Helleborines , some really good specimens , and almost fully in flower too . The more I looked , the more I found with an estimate of 50+ plants seen , close up of flower above , but also found 3 other stands of Bird's-nest Orchids too , which would bring their numbers to 35/40 seen on the visit .
On the way back to the car , I had a look at the dipping pond . Straight away , from the direction of the large Holm Oak , the song of that Blackcap/Song Thrush/Willow Warbler could be heard . It must have been singing non stop since my last visit , but I can't see him attracting a mate , unless of course , she was as mixed up as he obviously is . Just a few Large Red Damselflies about , but like the Farm lake , a youngster was missing , the four Moorhen chicks are now three .

And finally , two moths from the first visit , both small , but reasonably patterned .
Many thanks to Dean/DDD for identifying Celypha lacunana .

and also the identification of Epiblema - possibly cirsiana , thanks Dean .

If this one hasn't got a common name , then I would suggest 'Bird Dropping moth' , as that was what I thought it was at first . And what I thought were tiny caterpillars moving on the leaf of Meadowsweet , until I blew the shot up when I got home , and realised that they were not .

And really finally , while writing this , Carol has just had a Painted Lady stop to nectar on the Minature Lilac flowers that have been filling the patio with their scent for the last couple of weeks . Of course , by the time I got down with the camera , it was gone .


Anonymous said...

Greenie, your moths are (yes) Small Yellow Underwing, Celypha lacunana & the last one is definitely a Epiblema sp (possibly cirsiana).

Kingsdowner said...

You got rain? Lucky you!!

There seem to be good numbers of White helleborines but your counts of Birds-Nests are impressive. I'm still stuck on 1 after much searching.

ShySongbird said...

Very nice damsel and skimmer photos Greenie.

Good to see the orchids are doing well.