Thursday, 19 June 2014

Thursday 19th.June 2014

With Carol entertaining an old friend to lunch yesterday , I took myself off in very overcast conditions to Lullingstone Country Park , to see if there were any signs of Lizard Orchid , and , hoping that the clouds would clear to maybe get an odd one or two Dark Green Fritillaries , especially as Martin had recorded one on his transect at Hutchinsons Bank the previous day . With drizzle falling on my arrival , I first visited the nearby layby to see if the Green-flowered Helleborine / Epipactis phyllanthes were showing . After some searching , I did manage to find 29 flower spikes of this 'Nationally Scarce' member of the Orchid family . Mind you , whilst most of the family have
colourful or exotic flowers , this member has flowers the same colour as the leaves and stem , maybe because it does not need to attract insect for pollination , as the plants are self-fertilised . Returning to Lullingstone , still drizzling but very humid , I set off for the Orchid Bank , in the middle of the golf course . A few butterflies came up from the ground vegetation as I passed , including my first Small
Skipper of the season , a male , identified by the 'sex brand' line mark on it's topwing . The search for Lizard Orchid was not going well with no sign in their normal spots I looked further up the bank , but this area too failed to produce , but it did produce a view of the coming weather , broken light cloud .
Before long , the bank was in searing sunshine , interspersed by the cloud , and each time the sun shone , the bank bounced with butterflies , rising out of the vegetation . To begin with , it was

Marbled Whites that were most dominant , but other species like Ringlet , Meadow Brown and a few more Small Skipper began to appear , but no sign of any DGFs . A singing Yellowhammer drew me
further above the Bank , where I also found a Common Whitethroat feeding it's brood , hidden in the scrub . Then , an unmistakable flash of orange passed me , heading for the Orchid Bank . By the time I got down there , the next spell of sunshine produced 4 male DGFs already in combat , with no sign of any females . Needless to say , they were difficult to get near in the conditions , but I did find one ,
stumbling around in the grass , looking like he had only just emerged , without a hair out of place ,
for the moment . In total I estimate 25+ were seen , always a difficult species to count as they are so mobile , but sure that they all emerged within the last two days . Mind you , it was noticeable that
some Greater Knapweed flowers were more popular than others , perhaps they were supplying
'amber' nectar ? A couple of other bits of interest include a small but colourful , as yet unidentified ,
spider , and very confiding bird that I believe is a juvenile Linnet .
Today , I did the full High Elms butterfly transect , and although numbers were greatly increased , taking out 101 Ringlet and 115 Meadow Brown , the only excitement were 3 Marbled White , two of
which were mating , supplying an unusual angle on the subject in hand , before returning to a more
normal pose , the female above with the brown underwing and golden leading edge of the forewing . Only other interest found was 10 or so specimens of Yellow Birdsnest or Dutchman's Pipes /
Monotropa hypopitys , a saprophyte that feeds on decaying organic matter .From a quick look , it doesn't look like we will get the large numbers of the species that have been experienced over the last couple of years , but time will tell .


Warren Baker said...

Seen a few Dark Green Frittilaries here in Wales Greenie, i'll post a few shots up next week :-)

Phil said...

Nice post Greenie and some super shots. The Marbled Whites look great, haven't seen one yet this year. Lovely shots of the DGF's too.