Saturday, 27 July 2013

Saturday 27th. july 2013

With the other surveyor still recovering from hospital treatment , I was asked to help with the butterfly survey at Down House , where I do the bird survey . As with other sites , Meadow Brown , Ringlet , Gatekeeper and Small Skipper won hands down , but I did manage to double my Small Copper sightings for the year , when I found two specimens in aerial combat . They did finish
eventually , and both returned to sentry duty . Both were very small specimens , not unusual in later broods of the species . Also recorded were two Dark Green Fritillaries , one a fly-by probable male ,

the other a very light coloured female found nectaring on Black Knapweed close to the house . Alsofound on the way round was a single Peacock caterpillar , usually found in groups , but this one
looked full grown and had probably left the group to pupate . Around the Sandwalk , the Violet Helleborine numbers have increased from 5 to 9 , which is very good news .
The afternoon was spent doing a barbeque , hastily rearranged , following the 'near end of the world' weather forecast for this afternoon . As it turned out , it stayed dry till a short shower just after 1530 , so we could have left the arrangements as they were .
This morning , yet another search for PHs up on the Commons , and for once it was successful with 7/10 specimens recorded . It was impossible to give a set number , as they were very mobile and very
easy to double count . Most were seen moving high in Oak trees , but a couple dropped down briefly
onto lower vegetation allowing a few quick shots , before they returned to their high perches . By 1030 , the clouds had rolled in and I headed home . Whilst catching up with some jobs in the garden , the skies cleared , the sun came out , and the humidity shot back up again . There was no change in the weather after lunch , so I headed off for Spring Park Pond , quite expecting to get caught in the expected rain . As I was the only one on the site , everyone else must have been heeding the forecast .
Odonata proved disappointing , plenty of Common Blue Damselflies , many in tandem and
ovipositing , a single female Blue-tailed Damselfly , two male Common Darters and a female Southern Hawker , which was chased off by the Common Darters , were all that was recorded . In the
shallows around the edge , lots of Water Boatmen , living their upside-down lives . Also in good numbers , nectaring on the Creeping Thistle , were these small wasp type insects , which I don't
remember noticing before . I thought that orange band around the abdomen would make identification easy , but it took lots of digging when I got home and have come up with Nomada sp. possibly N.fucata , not a wasp at all but a bee . The recent dry , hot spell brought lots of butterflies to the pond , searching for moisture . All three Whites , Holly Blue , Red Admiral and an ovipositing Comma were all seen . The a couple of less expected species turned up . The zig-zag flight of a
Hairstreak , dived down towards the centre of the pond . When I managed to find it on a Lily pad , it turned out to be a Purple Hairstreak , one of six visiting whilst I was there . I thought I had a seventh ,
but when I found that one , it turned out to be a White-letter Hairstreak , my first sighting of the year . I watched it walk down the leaf of a Yellow Flag Iris , it then slumped onto the floating pond weeds
to reach the moisture . I have found the species before on the site , but not around the pond . Another welcome find were three male Common Blues , like the Sm. Copper , small specimens , but the first
of the second brood that I have seen this year . And finally , plants around the pond in flower , included ;
Common Water-Plantain / Alisma plantago-aquatica ,
Water Mint / Mentha aquatic , a member of the Labiate family ,
and Purple Loosestrife / Lythrum salicaria .
The first meaningful rain started at 1930 , so we could have had the barbeque this afternoon after all , but it did seem knock out the Broadband connection for most of the evening , which is why this post is so late .


Phil said...

Nice flutter pics Greenie. Very nice DGF's. never seen White-letter. Must get out more!

Rodney Compton said...

You should get a medal!

Marianne said...

Hairstreak-tastic! Interesting that the White-letter has had its 'tails' nipped off by something - an example of distraction coloration doing what it's supposed to? The pale fritillary is a stunner too.