Monday, 27 May 2013

Monday 27th. May 2013

Firstly , many thanks to Spock for suggesting either Double Square-Spot or Triple Spotted Clay , as the identity of the caterpillar on the last post . I have found pictures of the first , but just a sketch of the second . On balance I think that it is the Double Square-Spot . Many thanks for your time Spock .
With Summer coming to a close again this evening , the wall to wall sunshine tempted me out early again , heading up onto the Downs to search for butterflies and reptiles , and of course , any other wildlife . With a temperature just into double figures , butterflies were few and far between , but as the temperature rose , they began to show up . The two areas that I visited eventually produced 12 species , but one species made up the lion's share of the sightings . Dingy Skipper (54 and that was a conservative count) , Grizzled Skipper (1) , Peacock (1) , Small Heath (2) , Small Copper (2) , Brimstone (3) , Green-veined White (2) , Holly Blue (1) , Common Blue (2 my first Kent sightings) ,
Speckled Wood (3) ,Large White (1) and Green Hairstreak (1 pictured) . The strong wind probably kept numbers down as they sheltered , like the male Brimstone which was sheltering in this Wayfarer
tree . I only saw it as it flew in and disappeared . Answer at end of this blog if not found .
Day flying moths included several Pyrausta sp.- Mint moths) , Burnet Companion , Common Carpet
and this Treble Bar . Another encounter with a fox produced a different outcome this time . At first ,
it was a 'stare out' at distance , but before I even took a single step , it was off into the undergrowth ,
not to be seen again . As normal , Slow Worms made up the majority of the reptile sighting , with 29 recorded , but today it was the Common Lizards that were missing . A single Grass Snake , which
hissed at me , no doubt because I woke it from it's slumber , and I managed to get back on track with the Adders , finding five specimens today ;
an adult female ,
another female , sub adult , tucked up with a juvenile male ,
an adult male , still in breeding colours , looking as if he had fed recently ,
and lastly , a female who looked as if she too had fed recently .
The first of two unusual sightings , was as I approached a water trough . A large beetle type was struggling to climb up the side of the trough . My first thoughts were diving beetle of some sort , but
 as I got closer , I dismissed the idea . It had manage to climb where the water had left deposits on the side of the trough , but was struggling on the smooth galvanised metal above . I picked it out and had a good look at it , and realised that I had seen smaller versions , but couldn't remember where or when . To get some better shots , I found a stick and encouraged the insect to climb onto it . Once on ,
I pushed the end of the stick into the ground , and the insect climbed to the top of the stick . I also
took a shot of it alongside 'old faithful' , the 35mm. film canister to show size . Before reaching home , Cockchafer filtered down into the grey matter , but I got no further . I usually see lots of Garden Chafer on the site , but the book at home identified it as a Common Cockchafer / Melolontha melolontha , also known as the May Bug , and although I have seen May Bugs before , not of this size . Reading up on the web , this was a male , as it had seven 'leaves' on it's antennae , females just have six . In the Middle Ages , adult bugs were collected as a means of pest control and in 1320 , the bugs were brought to court in Avignon and sentenced in their absence to 'withdraw within 3 days to a designated area ' . Naturally enough , the bugs failed to comply and the order was given for them to be collected and killed . They were also used as food , with recipes for soup and stew , and as recent as the 1920s , sugar-coated Cockchafers were available . It all reminded me of a story on the news recently about eating bugs and worms .
The other was a small flower I found , whilst following a butterfly , which I never did find . It went to ground and whilst looking a small splash of blue/violet caught my eye . Very small , struggling amongst the grass , it reminder me of Autumn Gentian , a species that does well on site . But , it's still
Spring/Summer so it couldn't be that . I cleared the grass away and took some shots , and at home checked the books , to find an Early Gentian / Gentianella anglica , described as ' differs chiefly in flowering May / June . Always on lime' . If the ID is confirmed , it will be a first for me .
And finally , if you didn't spot the male Brimstone , it is in the bottom right hand corner , hanging under a leaf , between the two bare twigs .


Spock said...

The Caterpillar has to be Double Square Spot, as its recorded on site, on Bernard Skinners site list of 286 Macros, 3 Plumes, 47 Pyrales.

Triple Spotted Clay is not on the site list so far.

The Cockchafers cause havoc when they go into a moth trap.

Had 22 Dingy Skippers on the transect today, and 1 was seen at Selsdon Woods, a site first.

Marc Heath said...

Thats a great count of Dingy Skippers Greenie, any sign of that butterfly yet??

Alan Pavey said...

Great variety again Greenie, Green Hairstreaks are really smart, lovely shot :-)

Greenie said...

Mark ,
No positive sightings yet .
You'll be the first to know , after me !

Ken. said...

Very good day out, many nice species of wildlife seen, and some great info about them also.
The Brimstone is easy to miss.
Nice photo's.

Marianne said...

Great stuff, very interesting info about the Cockchafers, and I'm amazed by how effectively camouflaged the male Brimmie is (though I did eventually find it without needing directions!). Stunning snake photos.

ShySongbird said...

Another interesting post Greenie. Green Hairstreaks really are a lovely colour. I was pleased to find the Brimstone without help although I did need to confirm it. I was also pleased to recognise the May Bug, for some reason we always find one in the grate of our fireplace each year which has obviously come down the (unused) chimney. Interesting facts about them. I certainly wouldn't fancy eating one, not even sugar coated!