Thursday, 14 August 2014

Thursday 14th. August 2014

On Tuesday morning , I had a walk around Hutchinsons Bank , but not finding very much of interest . As at High Elms , Common Blue and Brown Argus were the main species seen , with just ones and
two of others . Many of the BA were very fresh like this female , and handily , found within a couple
of metres , a female Common Blue , one of the more difficult butterfly IDs to make out in the field , made even more so when either specimen is worn . Apart from them , a Roesel's Bush Cricket that
would not come out in the open , and a Crab Spider tucking into a fly , trapped when it stopped on the
flower of a Field Scabious .
Yesterday , Martin and I had what will probably be the last 'away day for butterflies' of the season , unless of course , something unexpected turns up . With passports in pockets , we headed for deepest Sussex in search of the last British species to emerge , the elusive Brown Hairstreak . Steyning Rifle Range , a site we visited last year for the same species , and failed to get a decent sighting , was the first stop . The weather was almost perfect , just a bit breezy , and we had the place to ourselves . An hour and a half passed , with a couple of male Vapourer Moths raising false hopes every now and again and a few other species , it was beginning to have that 'deja vu' feeling . We decided to have a look at another area at the top of the hill but although more sheltered , failed again there . It wasn't all
bad news though , a few Wall , much fewer than our last visit , the males looking a bit tatty , but this
female which was resting in between egg laying , was in beautiful condition . Whilst up on the hill we had several Clouded Yellow sightings , and I managed to get a couple of shots of this male , before
an unhelpful fly chased it off . It was also good to find very good numbers of Small Tortoiseshell ,
their comeback is very welcome . A last look at the BH area failed to find any movement at all , so we decided to head downhill and have another look where we started . Halfway between the two , we saw two chaps seemingly photographing something in an area of young Bullace plants , outside of the fenced off area . As we got close , a pointed finger down amongst the plants said it all , they had found one , in fact it had been on the path as one walked along and flew onto the Bullace in front of
him , and what a beauty she was . With four people now around her , she wasn't bothered at all and everyone got their side on shots , and after a spell of cloud cover , she obliged by opening her wings
to warm up , without even being asked to do so . She flew a couple of times , but always within the area of Bullace , once landing on the very top of a plant , then walking down one of the main stems until she disappeared amongst the jungle at the bottom , only to appear a little later and posing again . After a short time , she flew again , this time landing on the top of a plant directly in front of me . Once again , she walked down the main stem , but this time stopped whilst still in the open and started searching with the end of her abdomen . The particular main stem had bindweed twisted around it , and she must have confused that with the ridge that marks the start of this year's growth ,
where the egg would normally be layed . The first egg can just be seen as she lays the second . Then
she seemed to realise her mistake , and layed a third , this time right in the classic place . After this ,
she flew up to the trees behind to rest , so I got a shot of the three eggs . Everyone on site who wanted to , seemed to get shots of the BH before she flew , which is always nice . We headed for the car and on to the second stop on the Downs above Upper Beeding , to find , a European Swallowtail ? Why not , we were on a roll . Unfortunately the weather said what we would see , and it wasn't a Swallowtail , but in between periods of dark cloud , a sunny spell meant the hillside was dancing with
Adonis Blue in wonderful numbers , only to disappear as the cloud rolled back in . Another sunny
moment did produce another migrant , a female Painted Lady , and amongst the wonderful range of
wild flowers , the floral emblem of Sussex , Round -headed Rampion / Phyteuma tenerum . The threatened rain arrived just after getting back to the car , ending the day . No European Swallowtail , but a great day to finish on .


Marc Heath said...

Great set of Hairstreak shots Greenie, even egg laying shots, thats special.

Warren Baker said...

What a great Butterfly post Greenie, like the side on BH very much :-)

Mike H said...

Thats some impresive sightings and shots of the BH. Greenie with envy !

Phil said...

Well done with the BH Greenie. Only ever seen one, that was at RSPB Pulborough Brooks some years ago.