Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Tuesday 13th. August 2013

With cloud due in from the West by lunchtime , I got out early in somewhat autumnal conditions , arriving at Denbies Hillside , overlooking Dorking just after 0800 , well before the promised bright start to the day . My two main targets were Silver-spotted Skipper and Autumn Lady's-tresses , a member of the Orchid family . As I headed for the main slope , it was obvious that Chalkhill Blues
were having a very good season , but being so early , both males and females were still snoozing at
roost . Mind you , some of them must have stirred earlier on , as I found a mating pair amongst the
other snoozers . By the time I had walked down one of the diagonal paths to the bottom corner of the site , I hadn't seen a single SSS , but the sun was starting to warm things up , so hopes were still high . A very large refugia provided the next interest , with two female Adders stretched out along it's
length , but a male that was at the top end of the refugia disappeared before I could include him in the viewfinder . His movement caused the two females to move off , but fortunately , they both from on
top to underneath the refugia . I gave them some time to settle , then lifted the refugia to find them
both settled and not too bothered by my presence . In fact , before they decided to follow the male ,
the pair posed together , before one slithered off , followed by the other a short while later . Some distance away , another refugia produced a much more active female that was on her way almost
immediately , but I did manage to get a shot of her scenting me as she made her exit .  Whilst I was photographing her , things got quite noisy overhead , and looking up found one of the local Magpies
having a spat with one of the local Kestrels , unfortunately I only had the 100mm. macro lens with me . By now the sun was warm and by the time I walked up the steps to the top path again , I was sweating . After a drink , I carried on my search for SSSs , more hopeful now with the rise in
temperature , and it wasn't too long before I had my first sighting , when it landed on the flower head
of an umbellifer . From then on , sightings were regular , in fact the visit probably provided the best
numbers of the species for several years on the site for me . They were still well outnumbered by the CHBs , and with the sun out , the hillside seemed to be bouncing with the species . There seemed to be plenty of females amongst them , and mating pairs , could have been 100+ , were everywhere . But
the male that had coupled had to work hard to keep his female from marauding bachelors , in this shot he was beneath the two other males . I headed up towards the seat in the top corner , and was
pleased to find a female SWF nectaring on Marjoram , and down the bottom of the slope a male flew past me uphill , heading in her direction . As I headed down the slope through the longer grass , I
spotted a female Wasp Spider sat in her web , complete with the zig-zag markings , but this is the bottom of her abdomen . A little later she moved to the edge of her web , which gave an opportunity
to get a shot of the top of her abdomen , from where the common name of the species comes . Just below her , I thought I was going to get a mating pair of SSSs , but after following them for some
time , with difficulty , the male , seen half hidden behind the female , gave up , much to my annoyance . No sign of any Adders laying out on the refugia this time , but on lifting it , a  male , on
the right had joined one of the females , so I lowered the tin and left them to it . Other species of butterfly seen on the visit included Large , Small and Green-veined White , Large Skipper (pictured ,
still looking very dapper) , Small Copper , Common Blue , Gatekeeper , Brown Argus (pictured ,
male ) , Meadow Brown , surprisingly few , and Small Heath . Unfortunately , no sign of second brood Adonis Blue , Clouded Yellow or a Long-tailed Blue , I had a good look around the Perennial Sweet Peas on the bottom track , to no avail . And finally , a couple of plants seen on the way round ,
Autumn Gentain / Gentianella amarelle ,
and Clustered Bellflower / Campanula glomerata , the main plant with the blue flower , being strangled by Common Dodder / Cuscuta epithymum , a member of the Bindweed family , which seems to have a strangle-hold over the whole site this year , but unfortunately no sign of the Autumn Lady's-tresses that I had hoped to find .


Warren Baker said...

That was a pretty good visit today greenie :-) Like the two female Adders posing together, nice one !

Marc Heath said...

Love the Adder shots, brilliant.

Mike H said...

Another great visit Greenie, seem to have more SSS there than at Queendown Warren or Lydden. Only males seen so far. I agree with the others those two female adders are a Great shot !

Phil said...

Love the two Adders shot Greenie.
Never seen a SSS but it's good to have something to aim for. Might have to be next year now though.
The Wasp Spider is a great find. Have seen these before but never in Kent.