Sunday, 13 July 2014

Sunday 13th. July 2014

A visit to High Elms in a brief period of sunshine earlier in the week found Silver-washed Fritillary numbers just very slightly higher . I think that this is not going to be the bumper year for the species
that I was hoping for . The males feeding in between circuits of open glades where they hope to find a female . So far , I have only sighted two females , but one of them was egg laying at the base of a
tree , as always , in the shade . With Burnt Gorse still short on butterflies , it was a white moth that caught my eye as it moved amongst the grasses . Finally managed to get a shot of it , which turned
out to be something of a rarity for the area , Sitochroa palealis / Sulphur Pearl . Small Skipper are
doing well , and again several females were egg laying on Yorkshire Fog . This time , I kept watch on the chosen grass stem , and when she was well clear of the area , had a look . peeling back the outer sheath of the stem , I found the white eggs that she had just deposited , plus some darker eggs from a
previous deposit , plus two small caterpillars , presumably from an even earlier deposit further down the stem . I carefully replaced things as I found them . On the edge of the farmland at the bottom of the site , a large stand of umbellifers had attracted the Ichneumon Ambleteles armatorius ,
and whilst it avidly fed , I managed a couple of close ups . Strange insects with thorax and abdomen joined by the narrowest of waists , just visible in black between the hind legs . On the way back home , I stopped off at Hutchinsons Bank for a quick look around before the sun disappeared . The
only new sighting was a first 2nd. brood Common Blue of the year , which posed on Greater Yellow Rattle for the shot . On leaving the site , a look at the Peacock caterpillars found them larger , but
fewer in number , hopefully because they have dispersed rather than having been predated . After two days of almost constant rain , I managed to do the High Elms butterfly transect yesterday afternoon . Seventeen species were recorded , with the biggest change being a dramatic drop in Ringlet numbers from 232 last transect to 105 this . Meadow Brown , Small Skipper and Large White all slightly up , and remaining species about the same . A single Dark Green Fritillary on the Conservation Field , 14 Gatekeeper  and 3 Hairstreak sp. in the bottom glade were the only new additions . The latter were high in an Ash which dominates the Wych Elm in the glade , and only seen as silhouettes , so couldn't positively identify as Purple or White-letter . Other interest found on the way round included a
'Bambi' Roe deer fawn up on Burnt Gorse with no sign of an adult, an almost Hornet sized hoverfly ,
Volucella zonaria  , and amongst the grasses , a relation of the Common Mallow found on road
verges and the like , Musk Mallow / Malva moschata . Whilst trying to ID the Hairstreaks in the bottom glade , I was constants 'buzzed' by two male Brown Hawkers , that is when they weren't scrapping amongst themselves . One did come to rest about 5mtrs. up in a Beech , but with only the
100mm. macro lens , was not able to do it justice . And finally , in the same glade , I got a few shots of what could well be the rarest find that I will ever make in the natural world . I spotted what I thought from the flight was a female SWF moving through the vegetation . When it stopped , with binoculars I could only see the left topwing , and saw the four dark bars on the forewing of a male . It moved on several times before I managed to get close , and eventually got as close as I dared , to be
astonished by what I saw . A SWF with a male left wing and a female right wing . I had to blink several times to confirm what I was looking at . It was then disturbed by a male which proceeded to court M/F along the edge of the glade , corkscrewing around it . After a couple of laps of the glade , the pair swooped upwards and over the surrounding trees , leaving me thinking , 'what sort of cheese was that' ? Walking back to the car I couldn't believe was I was looking at on the back of the camera and couldn't wait to get home and find out if it was real . My first call was to Martin and after describing what I had seen , came out with 'halved gynandromorph' , meaning half male and half female , split directly down the centre , having a single clasper , one male and one female antenna and later phoned back to say that even the eyes are different and the shape of the abdomen is different on each side , something that he had never seen before in the wild or in captivity . I have enlarged the
centre of the previous shot , and this can be seen . I Googled 'halved gynandromorphy' and found  other specimens . I just hope that the specimen appears next Sunday when Kent BC are on site for their visit .

6 comments:

Marc Heath said...

What a superb post Greenie, a bit of everything. Well done with the SWF, what a beauty. The prize for me goes to the Brown Hawker, something I can not get near at all at the moment!

Rodney Compton said...

Great! - it's the gynandromorph for me!

Re: the hairstreaks, I guess they were white letter? Incidentally, has anyone seen any purple hairstreaks this year - I think they were hit hard by the rains last year after the bumper year before.


Two unusual independent sights in BR1 - marbled whites: one male Saturday around the lodge in Whitehall Rec, the other last week on the other side of Whitehall Rec in a garden. This follows a female in the set aside in the fields adjacent to Oakley Road two years ago.

Phil said...

Blimey Greenie what a find! I never realised such things could happen. The only thing that could top that Is a half Peacock and half Red Admiral or something similar.
I wait with great anticipation............!

Spock said...

It would only have been topped by a Valesina half.

Warren Baker said...

You just never know what might turn up greenie - what a great find!! Do other species of butterfly have this happen I wonder ?

Steve Nunn said...

Just have to say wow, what a find. Never seen anything like that. A superb capture......