Friday, 22 July 2011

Friday 22nd. July 2011

Better weather wise this morning , but there was still a strong breeze blowing . I think it will be the most remembered part of the weather this year . Anyway , I was out early to make the most of the sunshine , deciding to check out High Elms before Kent Butterfly Conservation turn up for their visit on Sunday . I did make a quick stop at the Farm lake , but there wasn't much new there , apart from one of the Mallard ducklings missing , with just four left . Two laps around the lake produced little apart from 3 Common Blue butterflies , a male and female pictured warming up in the sun . Three Gatekeeper and a single faded Ringlet were the only other species recorded .
Moving on , I hoped that High Elms would be more productive , but my main concern were the Silver-washed Fritillaries which are the main target on Sunday and if Whiteletter Hairstreak were to put in an appearance , I would be well pleased . Being earlier than usual , the glades on the way to Burnt Gorse were only just starting to be bathed in sunlight and the Buddleia bushes were the same , but several Red Admirals were swooping down from the already sunlight trees to nectar quickly before returning upwards again . I breathed a sigh of relief when I reached Burnt Gorse and found a few SWFs . The males have lost the vibrant colour of emergence , but understandable given that they have been on the wing for 4 weeks now . The females , having emerged duller than the males , are showing wing damage too , and this one unusually showing a greenish aberration on the hindwings . A couple of plants have come into flower since my last visit , one being Ploughman's Spikenard/Inula conyza , a member of the Daisy family , and the other Red Bartsia/Odontites verna , a semi-parasitic , and a member of the Figwort family . Whilst happy with the SWFs , even though they are in much fewer number this year , I couldn't find any sign of the White-letter Hairstreaks , even though their favourite nectar source , the Hemp Agrimony flowers have started to open in the area of the Orchid Bank . Whilst searching , a large hawker sized dragonfly caught my eye , but disappeared a couple of times without me seeing where it settled . Third time lucky , I saw it settle in a small bush some way off . I slowly approached it , and was able to identify it as an immature male Southern Hawker . I took one more step closer after taking that shot , and you can guess the outcome . With clouds starting to win , I headed for the glade down near where the large stand of Bird's-nest Orchids were earlier in the year . Straight away I found three more SWFs , two of them in courting mode , but unfortunately disappeared over the trees to court in private . A male Brown Hawker was patrolling the glade , but I never found where he settled when he disappeared from view , but I did find at least 5 White-letter Hairstreaks , all of them nectaring on Canadian Golden-Rod/Solidago canadensis , as it's name implies , an introduced species . It must be good stuff , as they didn't seem interested in any other flowers . I just hope they stay in the glade , at least until Sunday . I started heading back to the car , and on the way found some Broad-leaved Helleborines/Epipactis helleborine , a member of the Orchid family ,almost in full flower . Which reminds me , I must get up and have a look at the ones up on the Common . I purposely retraced my steps past the Buddleia bushes to the car park , and was pleased that I did , as by now the sun , when out , was streaming into the glades , and several species were competing for the best blooms :Silver-washed Fritillary and Red Admiral ,Red Admiral and Peacock , 2 very smart Red Admirals .Peacock and male and female SWFs .
Nothing else I can do now , just keep everything crossed for Sunday .


Phil said...

Hope everything goes well and all the species turn up for you Greenie. Although i'm planning to christen a new barbecue on sunday so that might be the kiss of death.
Nice butterfly pics, still to get White-Letter and SWF.
Nice to see a shot of Southern Hawker, would really like to find one at New Hythe but they don't usually appear there

Warren Baker said...

Sunday is not looking too bad Greenie - there, thats me and phil that have put the mockers on it now!!

Ive got golden rod and hemp agrimony in my garden, all i need now is a WLH :-)

Mike H said...

I,m sure all will go well on Sunday as the weather forecast is good and the wet stuff should not be around. Great shots again nice WLH not seen any yet.

Ken. said...

Hi Greenie
I hope the weather is good for you on Sunday.
Love the photo's where you managed to get 2 different species of Butterfly on the same plant.

Alan Pavey said...

Well done on getting the WLH's, that's a nice set of butterfly pics. :-)