Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Tuesday 16th. July 2013

Another visit first thing to West Wickham and Hayes Commons , failed again to find any Purple
Hairstreaks , but the former did provide the first Gatekeeper of the season , a freshly emerged male .
A second was found on my way back to the car . With the temperature rising by the minute , I headed for High Elms LNR , stopping first at the rough grassland on the golf course , where I had the good Marbled White numbers on the last transect . No mating couples this time , but not for want of
trying , finding this male harassing a female down in the grass . I watched them for several minutes , and in the end she won , he gave up and flew off . Many of the species were nearing on the Field
Scabious , like this female . Lots of Burnet Moths amongst the long grass , some nectaring , but some already into furthering the species . To the left of the mating pair , the paper-like cocoon where the
caterpillar metamorphosed into a moth , the remains of the black pupae case visible at the exit point . It was probably the female that emerged , and was immediately pounced on by the male . Whilst
walking around , found my first Essex Skipper of the season , just one amongst clouds of Small ,
identified by the black on the underside of the tips of the antennae . On the way back to the car , a stand of Ragwort / Senecio jacobaea , a member of the Daisy family , was playing host to at least 100
Cinnabar caterpillars of varying sizes . This one small flower head , held 10+ specimens , some being

on the far side of the plant . I don't think there will be much of it left by the time they finish with it . Whilst there , a White Plume Moth / Pterophorus pentadactyla , flew by and came to rest , but never
in a favourable position for a shot . I finally made it up to Cuckoo Woods and Burnt Gorse , calling in at a couple of small glades on the way , and was pleased to find a Silver-washed Fritillary , our
largest Fritillary , guarding his sunny patch of Bramble flowers against all comers . Identified as a
male by the four dark bars across the top of the forewing , and it wasn't long till the aerials battles
started , even though there doesn't seem to be any females out yet . In between battles , he did nectar  and also posed to show how the species gets it's name from the 'silver wash' on the underside of the hindwings . A total of 4 SWF were recorded , along with 3 White Admirals , one braving it in
the same glade as the SWF . Still no sign of any White-letter Hairstreaks , but there is still time for them to emerge before Sunday , I hope .


Warren Baker said...

Snap with the Gatekeeper Greenie :-) Wish I could say the same for the SWF or Marbled white!

Phil said...

A nice mix there Greenie. Especially the Marbled White, haven't seen one yet this year.
Looks like lots of Cinnabar moths to look forward to soon.
You forgot to mention the tiny white stilettos as the other ID mark for Essex Skipper!

Marc Heath said...

Great shots Greenie, hope a few Silver washed appear my way this year.

alan woodcock said...

Hi,see you managed to find Silver washed,is it a little late in the season for them now?.

Greenie said...

Alan ,
Early July is the norm for the species , but always a bit later at HE . Sunday was my first sighting there , and all 4 yesterday were pristine specimens , newly emerged .