Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Tuesday 14th. August 2012

I spent most of last Friday , Saturday and Sunday continuing the search for White-letter Hairstreaks around  High Elms . I got to the bottom glade on Friday morning just as the sun started to flood the area , and found a good number of butterfly species nectaring on the Canadian Golden Rod and the
Hemp Agrimony which is now well open . My first shots were of a worn White Admiral , but like many other species this year , have been few in number , this being the only one that I have managed to photograph on site , and my only underwing shots on any site this year . Like the WA , the Silver-washed Fritillaries are getting very worn , but they have been on the wing for almost a month now . Unlike both of the species , it was good to find at least 3 very fresh Peacocks in the glade and another
two in other glades . I managed to catch a Peacock nectaring on the same flower head as a SWF . The recent warmer spell seems to have encouraged the second brood of Holly Blues , or should this brood
be called Ivy Blues , a very fresh female flew in to nectar on the CGR . Also in the glade were a male Brown Hawker , two male Migrant Hawkers and several Common Darters , but they and the butterflies seemed to be at peace with each other , whilst overhead , the constant mewing of Common Buzzards , soaring high on the thermals . A final check of the CGR proved fruitful , when I spotted the female Ichneumon sp. that I photographed from above in the back garden a while back .
Although constantly on the move , I managed to get a few side-on shots of this incredible looking insect . A search of the other glades increased the SWF number to 11 , and also added a couple of female Brimstones . On the end of the Orchid Bank , on the WLH's favourite patch of HA , I found a
Crab Spider , tucking into a moth , that was about the size of a WLH . Over the weekend , in the back garden , we had several species of butterfly visiting , and whilst photographing one of them , noticed another Crab Spider on one of the Buddleias , this one have managed to catch a Honey Bee . Also interested in the bee , were several small flies , possibly wanting to lay their eggs on it , but the spider was having none of it , constantly chasing them off . Mind you , if the small flies got too close , they
became the entree to the main meal . Another trip to High Elms found a total of 4 WLHs , three of which were worn males , but I was pleased to find a fresh female , identified by her larger size and
longer tails , down in the bottom glade , so at least some breeding should take place this year , and with a half decent Winter and Spring , hopefully their numbers will increase again . On the visit , 10 Peacocks were recorded , which was good news . I did not record the WLH that I found on the HA at the end of the Orchid Glade . I don't know if it was the same Crab Spider that was responsible , but I
found this one hauling up a dead , worn , male WLH , on it's silk thread , no doubt to consume in the cover of the flower head above . Had the butterfly shown signs of life , I would have separated the pair , but it didn't , so I left nature take it's course . Yesterday , with the other surveyor on holiday again , I headed up onto the Downs to do the reptile survey . He has been getting better results than me , so I was quite pleased with the numbers recorded . Adders totalled 23 , including two very
pregnant looking , very large females , and this male with attitude , who was determined to hold his position and do his best to stare me out . The most exciting pair of refugia had a large male stretched out on top of the tin as I approached , but he scented me and disappeared before I got in camera range . When I lifted the tin that it was lying on , I found another male , a female , two sub adults and
two juveniles . One juvenile had already gone before I managed a shot , and one of the sub adults was just leaving , top left of shot , leaving the female bottom right , male bottom left second sub adult middle of shot and the other juvenile top of shot . Also recorded were 56 Slow Worms , 1 adult Grass Snake and 2 Common Lizards . Around the two sites , Chalkhill Blues seemed a bit down on the previous visit and many were looking very worn . On the other side of the coin , I found 3 second brood Common Blue males , and an exquisite newly emerged female Brown Argos , identified by the
orange spots on the forewings reaching the leading edge , whereas they fade out towards the leading edge on the male . In a shady corner , an looking like it didn't want to be found on the underside of a
leaf , I found what could be the male of the Ichneumon sp. that I found at High Elms a couple of days previous , and close by just a couple of specimens of Nettle-leaved Bellflower / Campanula
trachelium , related to the Harebell and Clustered Bellflower posted recently . Almost at home , I was flagged down by a fellow enthusiast , who had just called round to tell me about a Jersey Tiger moth that he had seen twice up on the Common . A sharp about turn , found the area , but no sign of the moth , but it had clouded over since he had seen it , but it was worth the chance . Today , I spent the morning wandering over the heathland part of the Common , amongst the Heather and Bell Heather , both in flower and filling the air with their scent . Just a few points of interest found , the first being a
moth that I think is Scarce Silver-lines , but with my record , don't put any money on it . Also amongst the Heathers , three caterpillars of the Beautiful Yellow Underwing were found , this one
showing just how well camouflaged they are on the Heather . When I saw this hoverfly I was sure
that it was something different , being larger and more colourful than most , but it just turned out to be a fresh specimen of  Helophilus pendulus , a bit of a let down , but do I really want a hoverfly named after me ? I haven't seen many Hornets this year , but one flew past and seemed to catch something a short distance away , I got there just before it flew off with it's meal and grabbed a couple of shots . Only trouble , the camera was set on aperture priority , and all I got was two very blurry shots that could almost have been anything .


Warren Baker said...

The 'Greenie Hoverfly' Sounds ok to me :-) :-)

Rod said...

Super stuff - very pleased about the white letter hairstreaks = if you don't mind I will incorporate them in my records. Rod

ShySongbird said...

You have certainly had a productive time Greenie particularly with the reptile survey! Well done on finding the White-letter Hairstreaks and on getting the lovely photo.

The Ichneumon certainly is an amazing looking creature,. Coincidentally, my friend had one on her sitting room ceiling the other night.

Ken. said...

What a very interesting report of your latest outings. Great photo's, especially the contrast of the White Letter Hairstreak on the yellow flowers.

Phil said...

That's a mean looking Adder Greenie!
I've only seen two Hornets this year, both at Sevenoaks alongside the long lake.
Well done with the WLH sightings.

Rob said...

Another fine selection, Greenie. Interesting to see the Crab Spider with its prey - sinister-llokign spiders, those, I reckon.

I think that Ichneumon sp. with the endless ovipositor might be Gasteruption jaculator. I haven't seen any of those so far this year.

Can't find the Brown Argos in the Argos catalogue, btw - which page is it on?

Greenie said...

Rob ,
It's right next to the sinister-llokign spiders .

Anonymous said...

Yes, the fist 'Ichneumon sp.' is certainly a Gasteruption species (technically not even in the Ichneumonoidea superfamily). We have five species, all parasitic on solitary bees.


Noushka said...

What a rich post!
I envy your aspics pictures though!
I am sad not have seen one this year, contrary to other years!
Your brown hawker is also a must, it doesn't occur where I am, in the Pyrenees!
Well done!