Monday, 16 July 2012

Monday 16th. July 2012

Got out yesterday , but didn't have time to post , so catching up in the rain today . With Kent BC coming next Sunday for their visit , I decided to head for High Elms to see if any of the Silver-washed Frilillaries , White Admirals or White-letter Hairstreaks had managed to emerge during the week while I was away . On the way , and to give High Elms a chance to warm up , I stopped off at all three Purple Hairstreak sites on the Commons to see if they were showing . One of the two on West Wickham Common did have a couple of PHs , high up on an Oak , but the other site , where I have photographed them in the early morning in past years , didn't produce a single sighting . Whilst
waiting , I was rewarded with my first two Gatekeepers of the year , both males , identified by the
dark sex brands on the upper forewing , and as a species on the underwing by the white spots on the under hindwing . The sunshine was starting to produce some movement , and the male Large Skipper
on the right seemed to have a bit more on his mind , but the female unfortunately flew off quite unimpressed . The Brambles were also alive with Crickets and Grasshoppers of all sizes :
Meadow Grasshopper ,
Roesel's Bush-cricket , this a female , with upcurved ovipositor ,
Field Grasshopper ,
And Speckled Bush-cricket .
The Ash tree on Hayes Common also produced 3 PHs , but they too were high up out of camera range . The only other interest found was Red Bartsia /Odontites verna , a common relation of the
much rarer Yellow that I was lucky enough to see at Ditton Quarry , thanks to Mike .
It was still cool when I arrived at High Elms , and that was reflected on the butterflies seen , almost none , as I made my way to Burnt Gorse . That produced a few Large and Small Skippers , Ringlets and Meadow Browns , and at least they are doing their best to ensure butterflies for next year . This
was one of two mating pairs recorded , the female with her wings open . Just before leaving Burnt
Gorse , a sigh of relief , as I found my first SWF of the year , a male , nectaring on Red Clover , but not willing to be approached closely , and a second that was just a fly by . Only other interest found
was a specimen of White Mullein / Verbascum lychnitis , found right down the far end . . The small glade beyond the gate , where the female SWFs lay their eggs produced a single Large White , but very little else . The other small glade , heading for the Orchid Bank , produced Keith , with whom I made the trips for Large Blue and Swallowtail earlier in the year . He had been photographing a White Admiral , which I just saw as it soared high into the trees . He had also had a couple of female SWFs down earlier , so things were looking up . A blanket of cloud then masked the sun , so we decided to try for WLHs in the lower glade , stopping for a look at the Yellow Birdsnest on the way . 300 was the last number I
had heard for this rare plant , but today we put a conservative estimate of 1,000 on the plants we saw , and there still seem to be new plants emerging . The lower glade produced another male SWF , this one having one wing that hadnlt inflated fully , but he seemed to be flying OK , so hopefully he will find a mate . The Canadian Golden-rod , on which the WLHs were nectaring last year , is still in tight bud , hopefully it will open before the weekend and attract any WLHs that will have emerged . We headed back to check the glade where I had found Keith , and when the sun finally emerged again , a
female SWF dropped out of the trees to nectar on Self-heal , showing perfectly how the species gets it's name from the silver-washed underwing . She then spent some time , just soaking up the rays and
showing her topwing , duller in colour and lacking the dark sex brands of the male . With more cloud than sunshine , and with us both expected home , the final find of a very blue coloured dragonfly ,
much bluer than the shot shows , flying very slowly around the glade , and only too happy to pose on Keith's finger . I must admit that I was hoping for a rare migrant species , but with books out at home , can only make it an immature Southern Hawker , the blue markings usually being very drab , and when an adult , will be green , apart from the last three at the end of the abdomen , which will be
blue . Oh , and if you ever wondered what a dragonfly looked like when it was smiling !
Good job I didn't leave the visit till today , it's hardly stopped raining all day .


Warren Baker said...

Well it's nice to see some flutters are still able to emerge and thrive in this dire summer weather Greenie.

ShySongbird said...

Lovely photos again Greenie! You had another good day and it looked like you enjoyed some lovely sunshine too :-)

Lots of interest with the grasshoppers and crickets and of course the beautiful SWFs.

Great final photo!

Rohrerbot said...

Lovely insect shots. Nice captures from your walk.

Rodney Compton said...

Thanks for your help this morning. I will leave it a few days till the more settled weather arrives to go to High Elms. I am trying to add some film clips to the butterfly pages on the website, where i already have the still images. Records a.m Tuesday - A single white admiral and a single purple hairstreak on the Rookery. I am going to try and get some clearance done on the chestnut coppice to encourage the white admiral.