Friday, 1 July 2011

Friday 1st July 2011

Whilst in a 'purple vein' , I made a point of making an early visit up on the Common for my local 'purple' , the Purple Hairstreak . Despite perfect conditions , the Ash tree showed no movement apart from the breeze . Eventually , I saw three PHs , way up high , but one did fly down , almost circling me in the glade . I offered the tripod , but it turned and flew back high into the Ash . I decided to look at other sites , on the adjoining West Wickham Common . The first , which was a super site a few years ago produced no sightings . The second , almost overlooking my house produced 8/10 PHs , but all well up in the large Oaks , and not willing to come down . I had promised Carol to take her to the shops at 0830 , and that time was quickly approaching . My last chance , near the ancient earthworks , on my way back to the car , then produced the goods . At first , it was just a single PH , but , down on the Bracken , it posed for me . then , looking around , I spotted two more . They had dropped down from the Oaks that were still in the shade , to warm up on the Bracken that was already in the full sun . The first was an almost pristine male , which , after opening and closing it's wings , finally posed to reveal his full glory . A couple of minutes later , a pristine female descended from the Oaks , and not to be outdone , showed her stunning topwing . It was already o835 , so , a quick exit to the car , and yet another late meet up to go shopping .
Having done my duty , I left Carol to potter in the garden , whilst I headed to the Burnt Gorse area of High Elms , to check on my local species , which once again this year , will be visited by Butterfly Conservation , Kent Branch on Sunday 24th. July . First stop was at the Violet Helleborines , which , I'm glad to say are still in good condition , with the first flowers looking as if they will open next week . In a sunny Bramble patch on the other side of the track , three White Admirals were scrapping over enough Bramble flowers to support thirty , but in the dappled sunlight , although I may sound biased , did look smarter than those seen recently . As I left the three to their scrapping , and about to head up to Burnt Gorse , a Roe buck wandered nonchalantly from the woodland on the opposite side , before seeing me , and making off at warp factor into the distance . I still had the macro lens on the camera , so couldn't manage anything better . The glade where most of the Honeysuckle is to be found was surprisingly quiet , but one probable female White Admiral did put in an appearance for the camera . Walking back through the woodland , I was able to do a bit of broadcasting , not on the radio , but making sure that next year's Bluebells will be as good as this year's , dislodging the now ripe seeds from the open seed heads as I walked along .
I approached Burnt Gorse from the path that passes the small glade , leading to the 5 bar gate , and spotted a butterfly fly up to , and perch on one of the trees in the small glade . It turned out to be my first female Silver-washed Fritillary sighting of the year . This is the only British butterfly to lay it's eggs on the trunks of trees , albeit that the foodplant , in this case Violets , are found around the bottom of the tree . On hatching , the caterpillar will make it's way down the trunk to the Violets . When she moved off , I found the egg that she had just laid . The female was resting nearby , identified by the much more sombre overall colour , and the lack of the four dark markings across the forewing , sported by the testosterone charged males .
In all , 8/10 SWFs , impossible to be totally accurate as the males are so mobile , and 7 White Admirals were recorded .
Other interest included , a very fresh probably second brood male Common Blue , a male and female Brimstone , both probable new brood . I had hoped to find a mating pair of Marbled Whites , but , even after following a male as he searched relentlessly over Burnt Gorse and failing to find a female , I thought , what chance have I got , and made my way back to the car park .
As I passed the area where the Roe buck had appeared from , and also the area where the Violet Helleborine are growing , I stopped to check the latter , and was pleased to find them still intact .


Warren Baker said...

Cracking SWF photo's Greenie. I'm hoping for some PH action in the morning :-)

Paul said...

Another great set of pics Greenie, and after viewing your photos of SWF, i definitely photographed a male the other day. Wow, are they active/on the go or what?! It was the hardest butterfly to date, to pin down for a photo!.

I have a feeling my blog is messing around again, because its not showing my latest post to date. You might be interested in having a look at it, its all about butterflies! cheers.

Rob said...

Tip top Purple Hairstreak and Silver Washed Fritillaries Greenie - I'd love to see either.

Ken. said...

Hi Greenie.
Wonderful photo's of 3 beautiful Butterfly species, all of which I have yet to see.

Alan Pavey said...

Great pics Greenie, I hope I find some more PHs, this weekend. We had one SWF at Sissinghurst last year, I hope they turn up again this year. Nice post as always :-)

ShySongbird said...

You are certainly on a roll at the moment Greenie! Lovely butterflies, any of which I would be thrilled to see. I have just studied the maps and sites to see the S-w F and there aren't many places near me :(

Fascinating info about the egg laying on the tree trunks by the Violets.

Great set of photos again.