Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Wednesday 28th. May 2014

A third dank , miserable day trapped indoors with cabin fever , and not much improvement likely till the end of the week , means an unexpected look back to last Sunday , the last time I got out and about , when the sun was shining , some of the time .
Another worrying trip to Hutchinson's Bank , where the Old Surrey Downs Project sheep , having eaten everything in sight in their original paddock , and been moved to a more sensitive paddock , an area where both male and female Glanville Fritillaries have been recorded in the last couple of weeks , could mean that the sheep are now eating any eggs layed in the area  by the female Fritillaries , or those of other species of butterfly . A case of 'deja vu' , after the destruction of Salt Box Hill by Dartmoor ponies a couple of years ago by the same Lottery funded project and this time in direct conflict with the management plan which states that grazing will only take place in October and November . With a change in control in the local elections , it will probably take ages to find someone responsible from the new Council ( the site is owned by Croydon Council ) , to start to put things right . Meanwhile the destruction to habitat continues .
Although the weather was changeable , I did manage to find three stages of Orange Tip , all within 20
metres of each other . An egg , layed on the flower head of Garlic Mustard / Jack by the Hedge , a
short distance away , a caterpillar of the species , the first I've found this year , feeding on the seed
pods of the same plant species . Further on a worn , male adult , at rest on a grass seed head . Just a pupae and it would have been the complete life cycle . Other butterfly species seen included ;
a superb , freshly emerged female Common Blue ,
and further up the slope , a mating pair , who must have thought they were on a roller coaster , as one minute they were vertical , next horizontal , blown by the strong breeze ,
and I finally managed to get a female Small Blue in the viewfinder , this one had been nectaring on Horseshoe Vetch / Hippocrepis comosa , a member of the Pea family .
A couple of other insects caught the eye , a male Thick-legged Beetle / Oedemera nobilis , only the male has these 'guns' on his hind legs ,
and a colour co-ordinated Leaf Beetle / Chrysolina hyperici .
A couple of plants to finish with , Jack-go-to-bed-at-Noon or Goatsbeard / Tragopogon pratensis , so called as by noon , the flower closes into it's green bracts . This specimen complete with Cuckoo Spit , which isn't spit nor supplied by a Cuckoo . The froth is produced by young leafhoppers , froghoppers and aphids , whipped up from the sap from the host plant and air , and acts as protection for the youngsters from their predators . The Cuckoo bit comes from the timing of the the froth appearing on plants and the arrival of the migrant bird .
And , looking like lots of tiny Sea Urchins , the flowers of Salad Burnet / Sanguisorba minor , a member of the Rose family .
Finally , one of the moths that I can identify , Mother Shipton , allegedly showing the face of the 'old
hag' after which it was named .


Warren Baker said...

The habitat destruction is just so typical Greenie. Organisations just ticking boxes to get funding by the sounds of it there.

Enjoy the summer weather mate :-)

Derek Faulkner said...

It seems to be coming an increasing problem even in organisations that should know better. Using quad bikes to drive here there and everywhere around nature reserves to check on grazing animals is one of them. No one seems to walk when doing the "look" anymore.