With heavy rain forecast for tonight/tomorrow , I decided to head out early to Denbies Hillside near Dorking , to try and find the Silver-spotted Skippers that had eluded me on my last visit . As I arrived on site , a large bank of cloud started to roll in from the South , and although it remained warm , the sun disappeared . As it happened , that was a blessing in disguise , as this species , once warmed up , are very fast fliers , and therefor difficult to photograph . As I walked along the hillside , it was immediately obvious that the numbers of butterflies of all species had dropped considerably , none more so than the Chalkhill Blues that were previously in clouds , now , many of the males looking well past their sell by date . I concentrated on the small tracks running diagonally down the hillside , where I have found the SSSs warming up in the past . It took some time , but eventually I managed to get shots of one doing exactly that . In spells of milky sunshine , others began to feed offering further opportunities . The second brood Adonis Blues are showing well with a good mix of males and females . This particular female caught my eye , but I wasn't sure if she was wanting to be seen , or just keeping out of the way of the males . No sign of a Clouded Yellow which was a possibility , but I did find an unexpected female Essex Skipper , looking a bit worse for wear , but the only Small/Essex Skipper that I have come across for nearly a month .
One of the two best finds of the visit , were this melanistic Adder who was willing to pose . Although referred to as a'Black' Adder , it can be seen that the zig-zag markings along the length of the body can still be seen . This is only the second melanistic specimen that I have ever found , but I am glad to say it stuck around a lot longer than the previous one , I seem to remember just getting two shots of that one . The second find literally came out of the blue . I was walking the very top path , finding nothing different from what I had already seen , when this monster passed me from behind and settled on the path in front , a Hornet Robberfly/Asilus crabroniformis . I started taking shots , then it took off and attempted to catch a fly/bee in flight , but failed . It flew past me again , this time at head height ,sounding just like a Hornet , and landed almost in the same place for a short while before disappearing for good . I had hoped to come across one , I have seen them here in the past .
On previous visits at this time of year , the parasitic plant Common Dodder could be found all along the upper tracks , but it was not to be found there today . I did however find just a few specimens right down at the bottom of the hillside . It grows like a necklace on it's host . When I saw the next plant , I thought that it was a third , white form of Common-hemp Nettle , but when I got home I started digging , and given the flower description in my book 'lower lip spotted purple , furry outside' , I started thinking to myself , could this possibly be Motherwort/Leonurus cardiaca ? Any thoughts would be appreciated . Whilst on the site , I had a few sightings of the moth Clouded Buff , but just before leaving , I found what I think are male and female of the species and managed to photograph both , but as usual , I stand to be corrected .