Sunday, 13 May 2012

Sunday 13th. May 2012

A beautiful start to the day , but it wasn't long before clouds started rolling in , bringing down the temperature . Anyway it wasn't raining , so I set off to do the full butterfly survey at High Elms , only the second full survey this year , because of the weather . As the name implies , being high up , the cool wind was felt as soon as soon as I got out of the car , and that was reflected in the fact that not a single butterfly was recorded on the fenced or unfenced Conservation areas . Crossing the lane and heading towards Burnt Gorse was no better , so I spent some time checking the Garlic Mustard / Jack by the Hedge plant for any sign of Orange Tip eggs . After a while , I did find a few , but ,
unsurprisingly , nothing like the numbers found last year , the small orange  egg laid directly on the flower head . For once , I got to Burnt Gorse in sunshine , and started looking for Green Hairstreaks up towards the top of the bank . I was beginning to think my chance had gone as clouds started in
again , but a single specimen chose then to drop down and nectar on some Common Milkwort . That turned out to be my only sighting of the species . Although I had seen the two early Skippers elsewhere , they were next on my list to find , and it was in another spell of sunshine that several
Dingy Skippers took to the air , males arguing over territory no doubt . Ten in total were recorded
during the visit . They were joined by just two Grizzled Skippers , but given the weather , I hope to find more on future surveys . Other species recorded were Orange Tip (2) , Peacock (1) , Green-
veined White (1) and a very fresh Holly blue , whose wings were still not fully inflated . From the underwing it is impossible to sex this species , but I waited for another sunny spell , and on opening the wings , it could be identified as a female by the large amount of dark colour on the upper wings ,
the male having just a narrow border of darker colour . All the recorded butterflies were found on sheltered Burnt Gorse with the exception of two Dingy Skippers found on the Orchid Bank . A few
day flying moths were also found , a cold Treble Bar that was happy to get some warmth from my
finger , my first Mother Shipton of he year with the outline of the 'old hag' on each of the top wings ,
and lots of the longhorn moth Adela reamurella , mostly males , squabbling over the best vantage point . A bit more colour showing up on the sides of the paths , with Yellow Archangel fully in
flower now , one of my favourites . Plenty of Cowslips in the meadows , the Oxeye Daisies are still
in tight bud , but some of the Bird's Foot Trefoil is fully in flower , where other plants are still in tight
 bud and adding to the yellow-fest at the moment is Crosswort . Common Spotted Orchid rosettes can
be found all over the site , this specimen being exceptionally heavily marked , and I don't think it will be too long before the first flowers will be found . It's relation , the Common Twayblade is already in
flower and from the number of plants found , they seem to have liked the conditions this Spring .
They will be followed very soon by the Fly Orchid , I found two specimens in tight bud .
On my way home , I had a quick look on the Common , and despite the conditions , was pleased to
find two female Brimstones , busily laying their eggs on the tenderest young Buckthorn leaves that they could find . In all five specimens were recorded . A look around the bushed only turned up two
eggs , but hopefully more will be laid in the days to come . Also doing their bit for the next generation were a rather chilly pair of Small Heaths , who were happy to pose and record the event
 on my warm finger .
And finally , help please on a couple of insects I came across today . I've had an initial search but
haven't got far . The first is a black and red shield bug type insect , found whilst looking for Orange
Tip eggs , and the second a red and black ladybird type insect seen whilst waiting for the Holly Blue to open her wings . Any suggestions would be gratefully received .


Warren Baker said...

Some nice Flutter photo's there today Greenie, especially envious of the Green hairstreak and the Brimstone!

Marc Heath said...

Great selection Greenie. Would love to photograph a Brimstone.

Simon said...

Great photos Greenie! I love looking for butterfly eggs!! Such a privilege to see.