Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Tuesday 20th. May 2014

A planned butterfly trip 'out West' was almost over before it started yesterday , as on checking the traffic conditions on the computer , before picking Martin up , showed the M25 clockwise completely shut between 8 and 9 because of a serious accident . I still called for Martin , and with the navigation in his hands , we cut across urban SE and SW London , and joined the motorway at junction 9 , without too much loss of time . From there on it was trouble free to our first destination , Cotley Hill , a Wiltshire butterfly reserve , arriving before the sun got up on the hill . Regardless we
made our way onto the site , and it wasn't long till we were finding our target species , still at roost and covered in the overnight dew , Marsh Fritillary . Slowly , the sun's warmth crept around the hill ,
but plenty of specimens were found , including pairs that had coupled the previous evening , and spent the night together . With the sun came much more movement after the initial warming up
stage , which proved to be the best opportunities for pictures . Like many species , the female is
larger and less vibrant than the male , lets hope that fat abdomen is full of eggs . The males were now
starting to scrap and charge around , but this one was found breakfasting on a Common-spotted
Orchid . After a while we decided to walk to the top of the hill , finding on the way one of several Yellowhammers along the way . Towards the top  , a small number of very active Wall Brown were
also found . The only shot I managed was of a male , trying to hide under a blade of grass . There was a cooling breeze on the top , along with a single Corn Bunting 'jangling his keys' , and a few Meadow
Pipits . By the time we started down the track , many more MFs were on the wing , and a mating pair
on Yellow Rattle , both with open wings , and a full underwing shot of a female , resting , having
recently emerged . Down at the bottom of the hill , without the breeze , it was very sultry and there were MFs everywhere , along with good numbers of Dingy Skipper , Small Blue and Green
Hairstreak to name just a few . Also down there was another , or the same male Yellowhammer ,
singing his heart out , and a noticeable emergence of 5-spot Burnet Moths . With the MFs becoming almost impossible to photograph through constant movement , after 4 wonderful hours on the hill , we returned to the car to head for our second site , hopefully to see two more Fritillary species and 'The Duke' . Half an hour later , we pulled up in the car park of Bentley Wood , renowned for Purple Emperor later in the year . A quick chat to a couple of fellow enthusiasts having lunch in the shade , and we were off . The area we headed for was a clearing in the woodland , and being so , offered very little cooling and probably even more sultry than the previous site . It was long before we saw our

first target , Pearl-bordered Fritillary , now coming towards the end of their flight period , and looking past their 'sell by date' , but still very active and difficult to follow in flight in the

conditions . Even more active were their relations , the Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary , who are just starting their flight period , and were in pristine condition . Numbers of both species above were low , and much following , losing, re-finding and re-losing went on , but during this time , our third target
species was found , Duke of Burgundy .
Other interest included yet another male Brimstone , thwarted by his proposed partner , and a few
Grizzled Skipper , a species that could well have been the subject of another visitor's sighting of Chequered Skipper , seen twice in flight , but didn't manage a photograph . Never say never , but that species is only found in Argyll , in western Scotland . In between sightings , I spent time trying to photograph a white and black moth . I never did manage a shot , but we came to the conclusion that it was a Clouded Magpie , perhaps . Two others did get in the viewfinder , Speckled Yellow on
Bluebell , and with Martin's ID skills , Brown Silver-line , which dived straight into the grass as
soon as it saw the camera . Just after 3pm. we headed back to the car to start the journey home to avoid the rush hour on the M25 , well happy with our 18 definite species of butterfly seen and 2 probable , as we were concentrating on the target species and Small and Green-veined White were most probably seen , but not positively identified . Thankfully , the M25 behaved on the way home , but with an outside temperature of 28C in places , the humidity of the day continued all the way home .


Warren Baker said...

It was a bit of a warm one wasn't it greenie! At least the Fritillaria liked it!

roger.wood800 said...
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roger.wood800 said...
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roger.wood800 said...

Darn it! Started off trying to delete a duplicate posting and ended up deleting both of them. It was simply to say, Wow, fantastic photos!