Sunday, 17 August 2014

Sunday 17th. August 2014

With the weather due to deteriorate from today , I did the High Elms butterfly transect yesterday morning , and after an initial Speckled Wood , spotted what I thought was a damaged White some
way ahead . Closer inspection found the tell-tale spot of Clouded Yellow in the middle of the hind
underwing . In the wind , it took off and landed a couple of times , the topwing being as white as any White , but I knew that if I was going to get a positive ID , I needed a shot of the open topwing . So I followed each time it flew amongst the long grass and proceeded to get a lot of out of focus shots ,
until a lucky one managed to capture what was required . I have heard of helice form females , but have never seen one myself , but my thoughts also strayed to a possible Pale CY female , a species that I have never seen . Having got the shot , I carried on with the transect , knowing I had two and a half hours plus before I could get the question answered . As expected , Meadow Brown numbers , although well down again , came top with 59 , but surprisingly were equalled by Common Blue , the second brood rising from 46 last time . Brown Argus were also up at 28 , from 22 last time , but they were the only 3 species to be found in double figures . Gatekeeper were down to 8 from 24 , and Silver-washed Fritillary down from 13 to 5 . The 'Whites' were well represented by the CY already mentioned , Large 1 , Small 1 and Green-veined 2 , along with Brimstone 3 . the two surprises on Burnt Gorse were a tiny pristine Small Copper , only the 9th. recorded on transect this year , and a
2nd. brood Dingy Skipper , naturally looking very pristine too . This is usually the first butterfly I find on transect , but this year it dropped back to 7th . Just a single Comma was recorded , this being
the more normal form with a dark underwing , as opposed to the light underwing of the 'hutchinsoni'
form that I have been seeing recently . 5 Speckled Wood and 2 Small Heath were the remaining species recorded , with again , no White-letter Hairstreak found ., but in the bottom clearing , I
watched a Hornet searching for a meal , and finding one , I just hope he didn't find the WLHs .
Whilst on site I heard the two Lancasters and the Spitfire and Hurricane take off heading for airshows
in the SE from nearby Biggin Hill airport , but always had a thick canopy overhead , the only shot I did get was of a Dakota , I think . When I got home I contacted Martin , but he was out with the local butterfly group , so I posted a couple of the CY shots for the experts to ID , which they duly did , a female helice form CY , not my hoped for PCY , but very pleased to have got her on the transect list .
And finally , a few bits from the garden . A couple of final instars of Shieldbugs ,before adulthood ,
Common Green Shielbug / Palomena prasina ,
and the Hairy or Sloe Shieldbug / Dolycoris baccarum .
A spider sp. Carol found , the smaller oval cream shape is her abdomen and the larger ball , her egg sack ,
and this could be the last shot of the Field Mouse emptying the bird feeder , as I found it's back half on the lawn , the front half missing , looking as if the local cat had been involved . The mouse probably wasn't quick enough , but the feeders should last a bit longer now .


Warren Baker said...

Butterflies are diminishing fast here now Greenie, need a bit more of that warm weather to get things going again :-)

Marc Heath said...

A good selection Greenie, particularly like the 2nd Comma photo.

Phil said...

Well done with the Clouded Yellow Greenie. Always good to find something out of the ordinary.

Ken. said...

I hope you held a service for your friendly mouse. It is great that nature lovers like you do these walks to keep an eye on how are wildlife is progressing or declining.

Rodney Compton said...

Thanks once again for your excellent observations - In respect of our chat on White Hill, I recorded this in 1987 on the 20th August, (just after moving house to Otford Mount), when the chalk hill blues were at their peak - 'a
high density of chalk hill blues are present in the area above the telephone exchange, with the population impossible to estimate and possibly running into thousands'!