Monday, 23 July 2012

Monday 23rd. July 2012

Well , at least the sun came out for the members of Kent BC , on their visit to High Elms yesterday .Unfortunately , many butterfly species did not . On previous visits , an average of about 23/24 species were seen , this year that figure was 13 , and several species were singletons , and probably wouldn't have been recorded had there not been so many pairs of eyes looking . The saving grace was that the 'main attraction' that several were hoping to see for the first time , including one young lad of about &/8 years old , the Silver-washed Fritillaries did put on a good show , with male , female , mating pair on the wing and female egg laying all being photographed . Another hoped for species , White Admiral , was also seen with three specimens being recorded , but there was no sign of any White-letter Hairstreaks , not surprising as I don't know of anyone having seen the species on site this year .
The species count was 4 better than that recorded on my transect on Saturday , but it was in keeping with this very strange year that such species as Red Admiral , Sm Tortoiseshell , Speckled Wood , Sm.Heath , Common Blue , Brown Argus and Holly Blue were all absent from the notebook . But , with some very gone over Bird's-nest Orchids and the amazing sight of so many Yellow Birdsnest , the members left very happy , much helped by the best sunshine for ages .
I got there early and had a scout around the areas where I would be taking the group , but even
earlier , I stopped up on the Common and at last managed to photograph a Purple Hairstreak , low
down on a small Oak , and within minutes was photographing my first female Gatekeeper of the year .
Today , I did the butterfly transect at the set-aside farm , further up the valley from High Elms . It was quite windy , but much drier than my last visit , but still the species count was low , with just 7 being recorded . Sadly , at least one third of the meadows have been cut for hay , and that is not good for species that lay their eggs directly onto vegetation . It shouldn't make too much difference to species like Ringlet and Marbled White , which scatters it's eggs around it's foodplants , so I was somewhat surprised that the Meadow Brown count was 400+ , as opposed to MW-21 and Ringlet-11.
I was hoping to pick up a few less common species around the edges of the meadows , but just a couple of Whites made the notebook . The greatest excitement came when a Roe Deer dived out of the field edge into the wood , followed by another three , a female and two youngsters , probably last year's , a little further on . The female headed straight for the woods , but the two youngsters ran
down the field and stopped to see who I was . A few seconds later they were off again through the
long grass , breaking cover to cross one of the cut sections , before disappearing back into long grass .
By the time I finished the transect it was very hot , and as I had to pass by on the way home , I stopped off at High Elms , and walked in the shade towards Burnt Gorse , which when I got there , held less butterflies than yesterday , not surprising given the heat . One of the small , shady glades did
at least allow me to photograph a female SWF , egg laying on the trunk of a tree , the only British species to do so . Some others lay on buds and branches , but not on trunks .


Marc Heath said...

Nicely captured shot of the Fritillary in action. A moment I have never seen myself.

Warren Baker said...

Greenie, as well as the Small Tort. Speckled wood, and common Blue, the Peacock Buterfly is very scarce as well this year.

Rod Compton said...

Slowly finding my way around High Elms... There was a nice group of three males and a female silver washed fritillary on the path bordering and near the enclosed chalk meadow, but I also saw them on the bridle path down from Downe and almost everywhere on the Southern edge of High Elms.

In respect of management: Is there a plan at HE? I have been doing my own at the Rookery, where there was a pair of White Admirals Monday and Tuesday - just where I had done the clearing!

This may interest you: