Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Tuesday 2nd July 2013

With the promise of some breaks in the cloud this morning , I set off to search for another butterfly species not found in Kent . The nearest sites to me for the Silver-studded Blue are in Sussex and Surrey , so I packed my passport and headed around the M25 to the latter , Esher Common . It was cool and windy on my arrival , far from ideal conditions , but I set off to se what I could find . I knew that no butterflies would be flying , so looked amongst the Bell Heather , which is one of it's foodplants . Worryingly , in the area where I had seen them last year , I didn't get a single sighting , but it was being more effected by the cool wind , so I headed for other parts of the site . Eventually , a
few males were found , still in the head down roosting position . The species gets it's name from the blue 'studs' surrounded by black , just behind the orange spots on the underside if the hindwing , but
the blueness of the male doesn't show them as well as does the female , which I found in fewer numbers . It was around midday that there was a slight increase in brightness , and this encouraged the first specimens into flight . Naturally , it was the males that got airborne first , frantically searching the ground vegetation for a female . But without the sun , they didn't fly for long , and
landed giving an opportunity to photograph the topwing . It was a while later before the first female was found with wings open , and shortly after I got this shot , the brightness went , and it was back to
roost for all . Like several of the Blue butterflies , this species has a relationship with ants , in this case Black Ants , whereby the ants look after the caterpillars , and in return the caterpillars supply the ants with sugar rich secretions in return . Searching for the butterflies other interest was found in the form of ,
Volucella zonaria , one of two of the larger Hoverflies seen ,
the other being Volucella pellucens , often seen hovering at head level and above ,
a black beetle I helped , struggling to get off it's back , turned out to be the Bloody-nosed Beetle / Timarcha tenebricosa , so called for emitting red liquid from the head end when upset ,
and one of several Cinnabar Moth caterpillars seen , but not very mobile due to the conditions .
A few plants of interest around the site included ,
Lots of Biting Stonecrop / Sedum acre ,
Common Centaury / Centaurium erythraea , a member of the Gentian family , just beginning to come into flower ,
an unusual white form of Musk Mallow / Malva moschata , that I haven't seen before ,
Common Evening Primrose / Oenothera biennis , a member of the Willowherb family ,
and Common Cudweed / Filago vulgaris , a member of the Daisy family , to name a few .
I had intended to go on to Thursley Common after lunch , in search of dragon/damselflies , but with the temperature dropping and the odd spots of rain , I decided it wasn't worth while , and will go on a warmer , sunnier day , so headed home .


Warren Baker said...

Stunning little butterflies Greenie :-)

Pity the days weather degraded into rubbish again though :-(

Phil said...

Great little butterfly Greenie. Saw them just once at Thursley Common.

ShySongbird said...
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ShySongbird said...

Hi Greenie, First of all congratulations on the Black Hairstreaks and the lovely photos of them. I was hoping to go in search of them myself (although not to the site near Peterborough which is too far from me) but not sure I will have the opportunity now especially as there isn't much time left. Well done too on the bonus Red Kites, a great day! Also loved the photo of 'Old Faithful'.

Well done too with the Silver Studded Blues on this post and again lovely photos. Nice to see the Common Centaury, a very pretty flower I think. Incidentally, I have seen the white form of Musk Mallow growing at a site near me.