Sunday, 20 May 2012

Sunday 20th. May 2012

Playing catch-up again , as I got out for a couple of hours yesterday morning , but didn't get the chance to post in the evening . The weather was reasonably good as I arrived at High Elms to do the full butterfly transect , almost barmy compared to some recent days . Things looked promising as I
headed for the Conservation Fields , finding Small Heath warming up along one path , and then
finding a Grizzled Skipper posing and showing it's underwing , just as I entered the first field . But the good start came to an abrupt halt , as the unfenced and fenced Conservation Fields failed to
produce another butterfly of any species . Just one day flying moth , my first Burnet Companion of the year , a very flighty individual , was the only thing to get into the viewfinder before I crossed the lane and headed towards Burnt Gorse . Disturbingly , still no more Orange Tip eggs were found on the Garlic Mustard alongside the path , but the one I posted last Saturday was found , still intact .
Also found in the same area , a mating pair of the white marked shield bugs , Eurydema oleracea , identified by Phil and ShySongbird , when I found the red marked specimen . I didn't find any
specimens with yellow markings , but did come across another mating pair , one with the red and the other with the white markings , I wonder if the offspring will have pink markings ? In the sunny glade where two paths meet , a guaranteed spot for Speckled Woods , I didn't find a single one . On the wing in their place though , were a large number of very energetic Ichneumons . It looked as if they had just hatched out and were enjoying their new found ability to fly . I think they are Netelia
testacea , and so mobile , that I had to focus on these leaves with a fast shutter speed , and wait for them to arrive . I have found them singly before , but never in a mini swarm . I arrived at Burnt Gorse , just in hazy sunshine , but it was disappearing fast . The Wayfarer trees produced just one
Green Hairstreak , and could well be the same individual I found last visit . Whilst looking for
others , a male Brimstone came to rest a few metres away , looking pretty fed up with the weather . Another Grizzled and five Dingy Skippers , including a darker marked female , made it into the book along with a male Orange Tip , and singletons of Large and Small White , before the last of the sun and a drop in temperature . I'm hoping that the rise in temperature this week will revive what has become a very sad butterfly season , with unknown consequences  for next year . By the five bar gate , a pair of Flesh-flies / Sarcophaga carnaria , didn't
even notice that the sun had gone in , they had other things on their minds . Heading for the Orchid Bank , I might just as well put the notebook away , as apart from two more Dingy Skippers on the Bank , not another butterfly was seen on the way back to the car park . While on the Orchid Bank , I checked on the Fly Orchids found last visit , and it would appear that I was not the only one who
found them , as the stems had been nibbled off , probably by rabbits . A search around did find
another two specimens , each of them with just a single flower opened . The walk back to the car was fruitless as I said for butterflies , but the lust growth of vegetation alongside the paths did turn up a
few things of interest , like a large , black ladybird , with two large and two small red spots , another variation of the Harlequin Ladybird . Like last visit , the red and black theme continued with the

froghopper Cercopsis vulnerata , and the soldier beetle Cantharis rustica . I was just in time to catch the Goatsbeard / Jack-goes-to-Bed at-Noon / Tragopogon pratensis , a member of the Daisy family ,
before it got it's head down . Back home around the pond , it obviously wasn't too chilly for a pair of
the hoverfly Helophilus pendulus , to be doing what needed to be done .


Warren Baker said...

Brimstone and Green Hairstreak - that would do me nicely Greenie, and with photo's would put me in raptures :-)

Signs of some warm(er) weather next week, could be good for some flutters :-)

ShySongbird said...

Your photos certainly had the look of May about them but the butterfly situation really is very worrying now. It has been really cold here today with no sun at all and not much better yesterday.

I think you must have still been thinking of the Flesh and Hover Flies when you described the vegetation as being 'lust' ;-)

Lovely photos again, I especially like the Fly Orchid. A shame about the Rabbit damage.

Rob said...

Smart looking ichneumons, Greenie, and a useful tip for photographing restless insects. Thanks.