Monday, 22 July 2013

Monday 22nd. July 2013

A catch up on the weekend and today started with a late afternoon visit to High Elms on Saturday , in a small window of brightness that didn't last long , in final preparation for Sunday's Kent BC visit . I must admit that very little was found on the wing , being so late in the day , but passing the Ragwort
that was covered in Cinnabar Moth caterpillars , revealed much of the plant devoured and many more larger sized caterpillars about . No Silver-washed Fritillaries were seen , until I got to the bottom of
Burnt Gorse , when I spotted one on another Ragwort , but it didn't look right from distance . When I got up close the reason was revealed , it was being sucked dry by a Crab Spider that probably
grabbed it as it nectared on the flowers. I did however find four nice fresh Commas on the way
round , and mentally logged their positions , hoping that they would be in the same areas for the walk . Sunday morning as I left for the walk , it was drizzling and overcast . The drizzle did stop before we set off , but in the overcast conditions very few butterflies were on the wing . I decided to take the group first to the area where I had found good numbers of Marbled White , Small Skipper and 6 Spot Burnet Moths . It was a good decision as there was plenty to look at and search for , all the time I was hoping for the sky to clear . When ready we moved on up the bridleway to the glades below Burnt Gorse , finding the first SWF and White Admiral , two of the target species on the way . I told the group that I hadn't seen the third target , White-letter Hairstreak so far this year , but although getting a sunny spell whilst in their favoured glade , none were seen . I checked the glade where the SWF lay their eggs , but found nothing , but we did find two females nectaring on Burnt Gorse . I showed the group the Yellow Birdsnest and the remaining Birdsnest Orchids on the way to the Orchid Glade , where we had another couple of SWF and WA sightings . Arriving back at the car park , nearly four hours later , many common species were missing from the day's list , including Peacock , SM. Tortoiseshell , Sm.Copper , Brown Argus , Common Blue and the Commas that I had seen the day before . So we finished with two of the three target species and they seemed to have enjoyed it , as they have booked up next year already . No pictures from the visit , I was too busy trying to find interest to show them .
This morning , another early visit up on the Commons in search of Purple Hairstreak , meeting fellow enthusiast Terry in the car park , who was on the same quest . Twice the chance of finding the PH , but still they didn't show , but it was good to catch up with Terry . Only interest found was a
Harlequin Ladybird larvae on the Brambles where the PH should have been . I decided to go on from there to High Elms , to try and get some shots of the female SWFs , but , typically they were nowhere
to be seen on Burnt Gorse , nor was a male sighted . Some compensation came from a very freshly
emerged male Brimstone , and several very fresh female Large Whites , this one too nectaring on the abundance of Field Scabious that is in flower all over the reserve . I checked the glade that the female SWFs like to use to lay their eggs on the trunks of trees , but they weren't there either . But , a
movement caught my attention and that turned out to be a female Ruddy Darter , identified as such by size , waisted abdomen and all black legs , the Common Darter having a yellow stripe down the legs .
The Orchid Bank was very quiet , but I did spot a 6 Spot Burnet Moth , taking ages to line up the
landing on a seed head , giving time to grab an in-flight shot . I finally found the SWFs in a woodland glade and within minutes , a mating pair flew in , but then flew into the trees to complete the union . I
only had the 100mm. macro lens with me , so grabbed a shot with that . Whilst they were busy , at least four single males clashed over ownership of the sunlit Bramble patch , but this one seemed to be
'the Daddy' , and when able nectared on the Bramble flowers before the next battle . At least three White Admiral also passed through the glade whilst I was there , one chancing a nectar top-up whilst
the SWF wasn't looking . And finally , a very active moth seen on Burnt Gorse , and with the wind , very difficult to get any shots . I have tried all the 'White -' and '- Whites' without any success .

About the size of a Cinnabar Moth , any suggestions please . Many thanks to Mike Easterbrook , the Kent Butterfly Recorder , for identifying the moth as Sitochroa palealis , a member of the Pyralid family . We came across it , or a relation , again on the High Elms butterfly walk on Sunday .


Warren Baker said...

Now thats a good photo that Burnet moth, nice one Greenie.

Still not got a Brimstone photo for my collection, not seen one since May :-(

Spock said...

The moth has also been seen at Hutchinsons Bank and is quite notable for our area. As a micro it didnt have a common name at the time, im sure one of the micro experts will name it for you.

Mike H said...

A great account and some lovely shots,Greenie. I met a chap at Dene Park who had visited with your trip at the weekend,he certainly enjoyed it. Didn't get his name though as we were watching two Purple Emporers at the time.!