Sunday, 19 August 2012

Sunday 19th. August 2012

Following the good number of reptiles earlier in the week up on the Downs , I did the survey up on the Greensand Ridge , hoping for similar results . Well , it turned into a case of 'after the Lord Mayor's Show' , as after a very hot and humid visit , just one male Adder , still in his breeding
colours , laying out on a fallen tree , was the only one recorded . Once again , Slow Worms were found in good numbers , with 32 being recorded . Five Grass Snakes , including one very large , probable female , that didn't hang around for a photograph , and in one of the heathland areas , a
single Common Lizard that had climbed to the top of the Heather to get a good tan , made up the list . In the same area , I disturbed a male Brown Hawker , who was probably also getting some rays , which took off and chased around the area like something possessed . Eventually though , he did
settle again , and I was able to get a few shots . A look around up on the Common on Friday was also
draining , with not a lot to show for the effort . A Syrphus sp. hoverfly , there are several that look
very similar , and a male Migrant Hawker were the best of the bunch , but on the butterfly front , Brimstone , Peacock , Small Heath and Holly Blue were amongst species recorded .
A pre-planned visit with fellow enthusiast Keith , hoping to find the probable last two species of butterflies to emerge for the season , saw an early start , arriving at Denbies Hillside about 0830 , but the temperature was already in the low to middle 20sC Our target here was the Silver-spotted Skipper , which I saw but failed to photograph on my recent visit . Whether it was because of the heat , but Chalkhill Blue numbers were noticeably down on the previous visit , but still plentiful , and
it wasn't too long before we both found our target species . I liked this shot , as it looks like the spider has a crab's claw , the way it's legs were positioned . To get the best of the 'Silver-spots' , a shot of the
underwing shows how the species gets it's name . Keith was looking on the lower path , whilst I seached the upper one , and a call from him had me making my way down to him , hoping he had found a mating pair . It wasn't to be , but it was the first Wasp Spider that I have seen since finding
one here last year , about the same time , and this female was doing exactly the same as the previous
one , feasting on the plentiful supply of Chalkhill Blues . I have still to find a male of the species , probably as they go the same way as the Chalkhill Blues , after mating of course . Following Spock's comment after my previous visit , a Surrey Butterfly Conservation field trip only found two second brood Adonis Blues , I was hoping to find many more , given the good weather recently for emergence . But , despite spending the whole morning on the hillside , 2 , possibly 3 pristine males ,
like the one here , were all that we could find , and like the SSSs , were very mobile in the conditions . We had heard calls several times through the morning , and as we headed back to the
car , a very tatty looking Common Buzzard flew over , looking like it was well into it's moult . By now the temperature was around 30C , but at least our search for our other target species , Brown Hairstreak , would be on flatter ground . We arrived at the first of three sites around Gatwick Airport full of hope , but , although we searched every Blackthorn bush , or so it seemed at the time , we failed to get even a glimpse of a single specimen . As we were leaving the site , a friendly dog walker stopped and kindly told us of another site , only 5 minutes away , but that visit finished the same as the original site . Arriving at the third site , a few Gatekeepers raised , then dashed hopes , and even scanning the known 'master trees' failed to find the target . A mating pair of Common Blues was little
compensation , but as they are having a bad year too , at least they give hope for next season . Drained , hot and sweaty , we decided that it wasn't going to happen , and headed back to the car
along the small river , where at least the Banded Demoiselles , like this male , put on a good show , as usual , squabbling over the best bankside positions , from which to grab a passing female . The floodplain of the river was covered in Himalayan Balsam , Purple Loosestrife , Water Mint , and
several small areas of Gypsywort / Lycopus europaeus , with it's white spotted purple flowers in tight whorls around a square stem , indicating it is in the large Labiate family . The Water Mint also provided the last species photographed , a rather special Comma . The underwing of the species is normally dark , sometimes getting on for almost black , similar to that of the Peacock , but early
Spring caterpillars produce the form 'hutchinsoni' , with their golden brown underwings . Another enjoyable outing , which could have been brilliant had we managed to find our second target , but there is always next time .


Marc Heath said...

Great set of shots Greenie

Warren Baker said...

Drained, Hot and Sweaty, that summed up my past two mornings Greenie, it's one extreme to the other this summer.
Another very informative post though, interesting to read :-)

ShySongbird said...

A most enjoyable post and lovely photos Greenie. Well done on the SSSs. I found some the week before last (I'm so behind with my photos!) Like you though, two visits to a known place in search of the BH were unsuccessful.

The Adonis Blue is a beautiful colour and it was interesting to see that particular Comma. I have never seen a Wasp Spider apart from in photos, they are quite impressive! I also thought how well camouflaged the lizard was.

Thank you for your helpful comments on my blog. I haven't answered it yet but will do at some point. I would have loved to know which were the favourite flowers. Out of those, Common Centaury is one of mine and the Clustered Bellflower...but then there's the Foxglove...

Rohrerbot said...

Hot and sweaty over here as well. It's such a great feeling, isn't it?:) I am fascinated by the Adder. Creeped out...but fascinated. You have some great photos from your search. Thanks for sharing your adventure.

Rod Compton said...

Found a solitary purple or W letter in Sparrows Wood Saturday - very worn - impossible to say which, but on the path, so I suspect a purple h streak.

Phil said...

Another action packed post Greenie. The Silver Spotted Skipper pics are great, not a species i've ever seen though.
Great to find Wasp Spider but bad luck with Brown Hairstreak, only ever seen them at Pulborough Brooks.