Firstly , many thanks , once again , to ShySongbird/ShySongbird's Twitterings , for identifying the mystery insect on the last post as the hoverfly , Sphaerophoria scripta . I spent ages trawling through hoverfly pictures , but never came up with that one . Much appreciated .
After two days volunteering up on the Greensand Ridge , and getting thoroughly soaked 3 times on the first of them , the weather on Thursday and Friday was abysmal , with rain most of the time , which , some of the time was monsoonal , if there is such a word . But 'every cloud' as the old saying goes , meant that I spent the two days sorting out photos , which had been stacking up unsorted since late May , but at least that job is done , and I'm not going to let them build up again .
After running Carol to get some shopping , I thought I would chance the weather , which wasn't looking too clever , and set off for High Elms , but making a stop on the way up on the Common . The Ash tree was quiet , so I moved to the other site , which , being very exposed , was catching the full effects of a strong breeze . Odd spells of sunshine came and went amongst the clouds , but one sunny spell did encourage a couple of Purple Hairstreaks down from the Oaks . The first , a female , decided to play hard to get , sunning herself in a position that I just couldn't reach without a probable tumble into the thick Bramble patch , over which I was reaching to get this shot of her . A few minutes later , a male dropped down and landed in a much more accessible position , and I was able to get in the right position to catch the refracted light from the scales on his wings . In total I saw 7 PHs among the 12 species recorded in a very short visit . One of those species was the Holly Blue , this very fresh female , identified by the large area of dark marking on the forewing , dropped in to warm up just a couple of metres from the male PH . I also found a male , but he was unwilling to pose open winged , so I had to settle for his underwing colours . Other interest found were several , very mobile Ichneumons/Amblyteles armatorius , searching constantly amongst the ground vegetation . I followed several only for them to disappear just as I was about to get my shot , but this one stopped to groom itself , affording me time to get a couple of shots of it .
As usual , the weather deteriorated even more as I arrived at High Elms , but with Kent Butterfly Conservation coming to visit in two weeks time , I wanted to see how things were going . On my way up to Burnt Gorse , the path beneath the Beech trees were strewn with Beech mast , anyone would think that Autumn was already here . Butterflies were few and far between in the conditions , but whilst looking , I did find 8 Bee Orchids , all in a tight group , which increases their number by 400% on the site . I also found only my second 6 spot Burnet Moth of the year , which also turned out to be my first photographed of the year . They seem to be very few , and can only think that the hard Winter didn't do them any favours . I was also thinking that the yellow and black Longhorn Beetle/Strangalia maculata seem to be in the same boat , as usually the Bramble flowers are covered with them at this time , but once again , I have only seen odd ones . Burnt Gorse finally produced my first Silver-washed Fritillary , a female . Even though I was searching their favourite glades , I didn't record a single White Admiral today , and the small glade didn't produce any White-letter Hairstreaks , a place where I usually find the first specimens of this species . The odd male SWF swooped in and out of glades , but I feel they are going to be in much fewer numbers this year . As I was about to leave Burnt Gorse , I came across this Crab Spider waiting for it's next meal on a Scabious head . For some reason , I decided to do a detour to check again the glades near the Violet Helleborines , which are still intact . As I stopped at one , a zigzag flight of a small butterfly caught my eye , and after battling through the nettles , my first White-letter Hairstreak was recorded for the site this year , not where I expected to find it . Looking very similar to the Black Hairstreak which we got last Saturday in Northamptonshire , but lacking the black spots on the inside of the orange markings on the hindwing . From the look of it , it had only emerged very recently . In the same glade , a fourth male SWF , the only one that stopped still , posed on Bramble , before he too swooped away . And , as things happen in threes , I noticed this very fresh Peacock , it too not long emerged .
And finally , I wasn't going to attempt any more moths , but whilst in a glade , the leaves on the ground moved , and I saw this good sized moth . It didn't attempt to fly , so I offered a finger which it accepted . I believe it is a Large Yellow Underwing , mainly as when it did decide to fly , even in the poor light I could see a bright yellow/orange underwing . Fingers crossed .