Monday, 1 August 2011

Monday 1st. August 2011

With the promise of sunshine , I set off for Denbies Hillside / Steers Field , overlooking Dorking , with two species in mind . Second brood Adonis Blue , having missed out on the first brood , and possibly Silver-studded Skipper , but realising I might be a bit early for the latter . Walking across from the car park , it was obvious that the wind would play a big part today , as it was blowing along the length of the site . Also found early on , and all through the visit was Clustered Bellflower/Campanula rotundifolia , always pleasing to the eye . Just before the gate onto the hillside , the first of many large groups of Chalkhill Blues , 13 in this group . Fortunately , they were covering what they were perched on , and I'll just say that the area is very popular with dog walkers . Over the whole site , the species were in their thousands , at times , the whole hillside dancing with their light blue colour . With so many around , it's no surprise that many mating pairs were found , too many to keep count of . No problem with numbers for next year then . Whilst looking for the target species , I found a nice stand of Harebells/Campanula glomerata , nodding in the strong wind . So small , not much higher than the grass , and so delicate as well . Also found were lots of one of my chalk grassland favourites , Eyebright/Euphrasia officinalis . By this time , I had caught sight of the very occasional Adonis Blue , but no sign of any Silver-spotted Skippers . Continuing my search I found a species that I haven't come across for a few years now , the Wasp Spider/Argiope bruennichi , an immigrant from the continent . This is the female , a good sized individual , and it's her colouring that gives it's common name , the male being much smaller and just brownish . The large numbers of Chalkhill Blues were reflected in her web , as she was eating one with two others wrapped and waiting , and the remains of at least another two on the ground below . From the other side of the web , the wrapped meal and her less coloured under body can be seen . Middle bottom of the shot is the zig-zag marking that all webs of this species display . The Silver-spotted Skipper eluded me all of the visit , but I finally managed to get a few shots of the other target , the Adonis Blue . Just a few males , with their vibrant pristine colour showing well in the sunshine . Could be confused with the Common Blue , of which there were a few on the wing , but the black lines crossing the outer white fringe , lacking in the Common Blue , is the determining factor .
With the temperature now in the mid 20s , I decided to have a quick look at a site near Gatwick Airport on my way back home , a site where I have found Brown Hairstreak in the past , but it wasn't to be today , probably a bit early here too . It wasn't a total waste though , as I did find White-legged Damselfly , a male , down by the small river , and not far away , a female Banded Demoiselle , and lastly , a tiny member of the Pea family , Hairy Tare/Vicia hirsuta .
And in case you were wondering , yes one of the mating pairs of Chalkhill Blues was only too happy to pose .
And finally , my last words on Saturday's post was to remember to go back to the roadside verge and collect seeds . As I drove past this morning , the Council workers were just tidying up after strimming the verge to within an inch of it's life .


Phil said...

Hi Greenie. I've had a very busy weekend and only just caught up with this post.
I'm very envious of your Wasp Spider, definitely on my wish list.
Some super butterfly shots there, not so keen on what those Chalkhills were perched on though. Was it one of those that later settled on your finger??

Warren Baker said...

Poxy councils, and we pay them to do the work!

Anyway, very nice Chalkhill shots greenie, no chance of one on my patch I don't suppose :-)

Spock said...

Silver-Spotted Skippers have been out a couple of weeks, I have seen them on the Dukes slope of Box Hill, so they should also be out on the Juniper Bottom/Top slope as well. We had a Silver-Spotted Skipper at the bottom of the denbies slope on saturday along with 2 adders.

A female of the gatekeeper form has been seen in North West London. The one on Hutchinsons Bank hasnt been seen since Thursday.

Phil and Mandy said...


Alan Pavey said...

Hi Greenie, that sounded like another enjoyable trip out, apart the verge wrecking of course! Some lovely pics there, I haven't seen Chalkhill Blue for years, another one to get myself in gear for! There is still so much to see :-)