Thursday, 8 August 2013

Thursday 8th. August 2013

It was pay-back time this morning following Martin's call re. the Clouded Yellows at the weekend . I picked Martin up and arrived at High Elms shortly afterwards , and headed straight for the bottom glade which had produced most White-letter Hairstreaks on the full transect yesterday . The sun had only reached one half of the glade , but several WLHs were already breakfasting on the Canadian
Golden Rod . 8/10 specimens were found during the visit and Martin got some good video footage , but I'm sure when the glade filled with sunshine , the numbers would be even larger . We pushed on along the bottom path , arriving at the bottom of Burnt Gorse , where we started to find several
female Silver-washed Fritillaries . At the far end , we found both male and female , but she was not interested in his advances and he finally got the message and went on his way . We had a look from the gate overlooking Musk Orchid and Downe Bank , and whilst listening to the calls of a juvenile
Common Buzzard in the distance , watched a large Corvid fly over the valley , a possible Raven ? With just the 100mm. lens on the camera , it was a long distance shot . Shortly afterwards , an adult
Common Buzzard appeared and started quartering the valley bottom , no doubt hoping to shut up the juveniles plaintiff cries . After visiting the two smaller glades , we arrived at the Orchid Glade ,
which also was only in partial sunshine , but still produced another 5 WLHs , all on Hemp Agrimony , and a very fresh Red Admiral , along with the expected species . When we arrange the visit to HE , the intention was to go on to Hutchinsons Bank , and , tongue in cheek , find some freshly emerged female Clouded Yellows , to prove the theory that the males found at the weekend and since , were the offspring of the female that Martin had found on the site several weeks ago . On arrival , we made straight for the Cutting where most sightings had been made . With varying
amounts of cloud cover , two active males were found during the sunny periods , this one about to
nectar on Marjoram , but with cloud cover they took up their positions on patches of open ground . But after a while , and no females seen , we decided to look higher up on the site , and it wasn't long
before the first female was spotted . Slightly larger and in the right light the lighter spots on the black border on the topwing could be seen through the underwing . The flight we noticed was also an identifying point as she was more 'flap and glide' compared to the fast , direct flight of the males . I followed this female for some time trying to get an open wing shot , and although she teased a few
times , I felt it wasn't going to be . As we watched her , she was slowly but surely heading for the steps that lead down to the Cutting and at the top of the steps we found a second female , which also seemed to be heading that way . With many stops on the way , the two females eventually did the right turn we were hoping for , and they were in the Cutting , where carried on nectaring . Within a
very short time , one of the males came bombing along the Cutting and found her . Another few
seconds and the pair had coupled . With that female busy , we turned our attention onto the other one who had reached the bend in the Cutting . She too was quietly nectaring when another male swooped
down on her , both finishing up on the ground . Another few seconds and they too were coupled , but
we had to encourage the pair to move off the ground , just in case of an accident . They were quite
happy to do so and got on with their business on a seed head of Greater Yellow Rattle . We took the opportunity to catch our breath whilst looking six weeks ahead , when the whole of the site could be flooded with the species . Martin had his video camera with him , and set it up on a tripod filming the first pair that coupled , an left it running . After a couple of minutes a third male arrived on the scene and tried to separate the pair . Martin has posted some brilliant stills from the film taken , and can be seen on his blog , a link is on my side bar . Up the far end of the Cutting , a third female appeared ,
and I spent quite some time following her , trying for some open wing shots . Before leaving the site , both very satisfied , we made one last search for any other females but didn't find any . We did however find a pristine male , second brood , Small Blue , which finished off a great day just perfectly . Can't wait for the end of September .


Warren Baker said...

A right old orgy of Clouded yellows going on there Greenie.

You got the open wing shot too, showing you have great patience!

Ken. said...

What a nice selection of Clouded Yellow shots. That is the last thing you can call them Clouded Yellow.
Love the last shot.

Alan Pavey said...

Well done with those Clouded Yellows Greenie, some lovely pics again. :-)