Monday, 15 August 2011

Monday 15th. August 2011

As I set off this morning , I wondered if it would take one , two or three sites to find the elusive Brown Hairstreak . My first stop was at the site of one of the railway lines that was axed by a certain Dr. , many years ago . Now known as the Downs Link , and still lined with Blackthorn bushes , I arrived at what would have been the forecourt in brilliant sunshine . No sooner had I got out of the car , a Bullfinch flew over calling , and perched some distance away . I reached for the camera and moved forward , quite expecting the bird to fly off before I took a few steps , but it didn't . I got as close as I could , and after some preening , the bird even came more out into the open , as if wanting me to take a shot in all it's glory . But , I had other species on my mind , and set off searching the Blackthorn bushes along the way . On the sunny side of the track , the temperature was already around 20C. , but very few butterflies were seen . Even a large area of Common Fleabane/Pulicaria dysenterica , reputedly loved by butterflies , failed to attract a single specimen . A lot of walking later , not a single sighting of a BH , and just the odd Common Blue , Sm.Copper , Meadow Brown and Gatekeeper were seen . In a small garden near the coach that houses a display of the golden years of the old line , I got distracted by two , maybe three Hornets that were trying to make a meal from the many insects feeding on the flowers . I was amazed by the ease that the smaller insects evaded the attempts of the Hornets , and consequently , how much effort the Hornets were putting into attempting to catch their meals . Also in the garden , Evening Primrose/Oenothera biennis , and a fruit tree that is not seen much these days ,
Medlar . After over three hours without a sighting , I set off for my second site , still with the weather holding , but with the minus of being quite noisy . More searching of Blackthorn , along the banks of a small river . Whilst in a small glade , along the bank , I met a couple out walking . They asked what I was photographing , and when I said butterflies , they told me that they had just joined Butterfly Conservation . We chatted butterflies , and just as they were about to go on their way , a small orangey butterfly flitted down and landed on some Bramble fruits . A quick look and it was camera out . I got just four shots , and it was off again . I never saw the topwing , but I think this pristine specimen was a female . The couple left well happy having seen their first BH . Carrying on searching , I came across this tiny yellow and black Ladybird . It is a 22-spot Ladybird/Psyllobora 22-punctata . Also found feeding on the umbellifers was the large hoverfly Volucella zonaria . Before long , the wind picked up and that brought in the cloud , but short bright periods still managed to shine through , and it was in one of these , as I was making my way back to the car , when I saw what I thought was a moth landing on a stand of Creeping Thistle . A closer look confirmed that it was in fact a second BH , this one quite worn , and after this one being chased off by a wasp , a possible third specimen arrived a few minutes later . This one had it's own way of dealing with the wind , whilst it nectared on the flower heads . Just before leaving the Thistles , I noticed a fly that reminder me in colour of the ground beetles found yesterday , black and orange . I've had a quick look at some images , and am leaning towards the family Tachinidae , the family that Rob/The Living Isle , has been doubling up on in a recent post . Any other suggestions would be appreciated .
Tomorrow , Dormice and Reptile Survey , up on the Greensand Ridge , with guest surveyor , Phil/Sharp by Nature .


Rob said...

Like the 22-spot Lady, Greenie - haven't spotted one yet.
Also like the Medlars - they've got one of those in the garden up at Brading Roman Villa. Never tried eating one (they have to be near-rotten to be at their best, I gather?)
I'd concur on that bristly fellow being a Tachinid. Discovered today there are around 260 species recorded in UK, and there is a Lottery-funded recording scheme. Apparently some are exploited for pest control. Apologies for long comment!

Warren Baker said...

I'd love to find one of them BH's Greenie, not much chance here though :-)

Alan Pavey said...

Nice find Greenie, great to get some nice shots too. A showy Bullfinch isn't something I come across very often, you certainly made the most of it :-)

Kingsdowner said...

Swine, swine, swine!
I also spent ages looking along the West Grinstead track with hardly a flutter of wings, then to Noar Hill with similar results.
The locals reckoned that no Brownstreaks have been seen this year.
You made good use of the brief opportunities.

Rob said...

I think Tachina fera and Nowickia ferox are possibilities for your tachinid. I believe T. fera is out a lot earlier in the summer, I don't know if they stick about this late.

Plus there may be more species with the same abdominal patterning.

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