Thursday, 23 May 2013

Thursday 23rd. May 2013

Had planned a trip out for orchids and butterflies with fellow enthusiast Martin for today , but given the expected drop in temperature and heavy showers for today , decided to go yesterday instead .
Mount Caburn near Glynde in Sussex was our first stop , hoping to see the Burnt Orchid / Orchis ustulata , a species that I have seen on the site twice , but Martin hadn't . The long haul from the road to the top of Mount Caburn was exhilarating to say the least , in cool , cloudy conditions and the odd spot of drizzle thrown in . Undeterred , we painstakingly searched the area where I had seen them in 2005 and 2009 for a good hour and a half , without a single sighting .This was our target species , a
picture I took on the 2005 visit . It would be very sad to think that the species has been lost from the site , but looking at the structure of the ground vegetation in the picture above and comparing it to the one below , taken in the same area , it looks as if the grass has swamped everything else , and could well be why we couldn't find any of the orchids .  In fact , apart from Cowslips , there was very little
to look at , just the odd Houndstongue / Cynoglossum officinale , a member of the Borage family , related to Common Comfrey . I very rarely come across this plant , and once again forgot to smell it , as the books describe it as 'smelling of mice' . The only other interest found was a small white
crucifer , which I think could be Hairy Rockcress / Arabis hirsute , a member of the Cabbage family , and a plant I haven't come across before , of course assuming my ID is correct . Defeated in our search , we made our way back down to the road , and with grey skies still , knew it would not be worth while trying for butterflies , so decided to try an orchid site that Martin visited a few years ago , where he found Early Spider and Green-winged species . After another hike well off road , though not as energy sapping as the first , Martin found the field where he found the orchids , only to find that it was now fenced off , without any access . We did see on the way though , a pair of Yellowhammer , very well camouflaged in amongst the Gorse bushes . Getting back to the car , lunchtime was near , but we decided to move on to the butterfly site and have lunch there . The skies failed to break up on our way to Abbots Wood near Hailsham  , where we hoped to find the Pearl-bordered Fritillary . With just a couple of other cars in the car park , it was obvious that other butterfly enthusiasts were less confident , hopeful , than us than the skies would break up , so we settled down to lunch with fingers crossed . As we finished , another car pulled in next to us , and as we got ready to have a look around , I looked to the sky to see a small patch of blue . We looked at the map of the wood on the notice board and realised just how big the wood and surrounding woods were . As we walked past the other car , the driver asked 'what are you looking for ? ' I replied butterflies , 'us too' was his reply , followed by 'do you know where to find them ? ' I answered in the negative , he produced a map of the woods with the best areas for Pearl-bordered Fritillary marked on it . Brilliant . We set off following his directions , as they got themselves ready . That small blue patch opened larger , and although it clouded over at times during the visit , there was enough bright patches to encourage the butterflies to fly . On the way to the 'best area' , we came across a young fox
walking down the side of the ride towards us , but moving slowly and seemingly oblivious to us until we were within 15 mtrs. of each other . It was only then that it turned and slowly made it's way into
thicker vegetation to the side of the ride . Neither of us thought that it looked very well . Beyond the lake , we must have taken a wrong turn , then somehow got back onto the right track , as behind us appeared the couple who gave us directions . Needless to say , we tagged onto them for the last part of the way , arriving in a large coppiced area where just one person was looking for the butterflies . With almost the first patch of sunshine a PBF was seen , but flying quickly and close to the ground , was soon lost from sight , but at least we knew that they were about . Not too long later , the first
work for the camera , when a specimen landed and posed with open wings . Success . There followed
 a most enjoyable couple of hours , looking for and photographing this rapidly declining butterfly . It can be confused with the Small PBF , but on the underside of the forewing , the seven 'pearls' on the
edge are set in a red chevron , whereas on the Sm.PBF the chevron is black . One specimen even obliged with 'the full monty' , and I remember , as I photographed this one , a Nightingale and a Willow were both in full song in the scrub beyond . A couple more enthusiasts arrived , and after a while a mating pair were found , the female on the right , being pounced on by the male , still not
having fully inflated her wings . The only other species around was a single Grizzled Skipper and 
Peacock , but plenty of Speckled Yellow moths , including a mating pair of them too . A few Slow Worms were found under felts placed around the edges of the coppiced area , but nothing more exciting . A Common Buzzard was constantly drifting over the area and a pair of Kestrels were also seen . A last look at the happy couple found them still 'busy' , but the male was now showing his
upper wings . A quick shot from distance , and we left them to finish their business .
From what looked like it was going to be a disaster during the morning , we walked back to the car in great spirit and hopefully look forward to meeting up with the Sm.PBF at a site we passed on the way back home , but that will be in a couple of weeks time . A long , tiring , but most enjoyable day , made in no small way by the fellow enthusiasts with the map .


Warren Baker said...

''Smells like Mice''?? Maybe he was mis-heard and he actually said ''smells quite nice''! :-)

Like the Flutter photo's today Greenie, surprised you found any at all though.

Marc Heath said...

Nice account Greenie. Hoping to pop to Abbots wood at the weekend if the weather allows. Any info please on where to look when leaving the car park. Any chance of an email:

Greenie said...

Marc ,
Will attach copy of 'the map' to the email , which I photographed at the time .

ShySongbird said...

It sounded like a very frustrating day to start with Greenie, it was a shame you didn't find the orchid. That poor Fox didn't look at all well to me either.

Very well done on the PBFs. What attractive butterflies they are, your photos show that so well. With the lovely bird song as well it was a visit you won't forget, one of those golden moments. I'm sure it made up for the frustrations.

Wendy said...

Hello, I've just come across your lovely photos of the beautiful PBFs. Wonderful to hear the Nightingale too; our "local" Nightingale hasn't returned this year and is much missed.

MissT said...

I know I am several years behind, but I have been trying to find PBFs at Abbots Wood with no luck - would love to know where the site is!

Greenie said...

Miss T ,
Sorry I haven't spotted your request earlier .
If you leave your email address I will send a map of where to find the PBFs .