Monday, 20 July 2015

Monday 20th. July 2015

The dull , windy conditions last week somewhat curtailed outings , and several more visits were made to High Elms preparing for yesterday's Kent BC visit . No further Purple Emperor sightings , but the weather was not suitable for the males to come down , and the White-letter Hairstreaks weren't tempted by the now flowering Canadian Golden Rod either . Whilst waiting and hoping in the bottom glade , a few bits of interest were found .
On a grass seed head , several cocoons . I sent this picture to Martin / Martin's Butterflies , who was of the opinion that they were those of a parasite , Ichneumon or something similar . The female parasite would have layed her eggs on or in the host . Having hatched , the larvae concentrate on feeding on the non-essential organs of the host , thus keeping the host alive . Once fully grown , the larvae start on the essential organs of the host and kill it . They then pupate in cocoons like this , the host , now no more than a shrivelled  skin , dropping to the ground . Thanks for that Martin .
This Yellow and Black Longhorn Beetle / Rutpela maculate has been in very short supply this year , usually they are swarming all over the Bramble flowers , but very few seen .

Also on grass seed heads , lots of these tiny Mirid or Capsid bugs , with their 'goulish , smiling face' markings . 
The butterfly transect , snatched one windy afternoon , produced 20 species , the best so far this year , but was still woefully low in individual species numbers , apart from Meadow Brown and a surprising 23 Large White and 28 Small Skipper . Highlights were a first confirmed WLH , high in
the Ash tree , a second White Admiral , showing it had been out for some time , and two very fresh
Common Blue , the first specimens of the second brood seen on site this year , just hoping they will do better than the first brood which was very poor in number .
A few other finds at High Elms included ;
Finally managed to capture a male Gatekeeper , open winged ,
and later found that the females too had emerged .
Somewhat of a rarity on site this year , a Holly Blue . This a female .
Lots of courting Meadow Brown , but caught these two , male on left , taking a breather .
Towards the end of the week , an explosion in emergence of Comma . This one was shy , but on a nearby Buddleia bush a minimum of 12 were recorded , now changing from their early golden topwing colour , to their tawny red hue .
The female Silver-washed Fritillaries are now getting down to the important egg laying . Several seen laying their eggs up to 5 metres up tree trunks , but always with Violets growing underneath for their larvae to feed on .
6-spot Burnet Moths have also emerged , and are not wasting time .
Down in the grass on Burnt Gorse , was this colourful moth , Oncocera semirubella , apparently no common name yet , having migrated over from the continent , and now resident in Southern counties .
1/2 Brown Hawkers have been patrolling the bottom glade , but not perching , but on Saturday , this immature female Southern Hawker was willing to pose , just for a few seconds .
A look in on a very quiet Common , found the Broad-leaved Helleborines just about to burst bud into flower ,
and the strange looking fly Sicus ferrugineus , with it's abdomen curled under , was all I found .
Helping out with the Down House butterfly survey , plenty of 'Hull City supporters' , caterpillars of the Cinnabar moth were found on the Ragwort , their foodplant ,
and it was good to record 3 Small Copper , a species that seems to have declined dramatically locally.
Almost at the end of the transect , this striking female Painted Lady was found , nectaring on Purple Loosestrife in the walled garden .
My highlight was putting up two Roe Deer fawns , accidentally , from the long grass as we crossed the large meadow . They bounded in different directions and all I got was a rear end of one as it headed for the edge of the meadow .
Yesterday , 30+ Kent BC members came on the High Elms butterfly walk , in what turned out to be perfect conditions , after the opposite had been forecasted all week . Just 16 species were seen , but more importantly , the SWF put on a great show , 2 White-letter Hairstreak were found nectaring on the Canadian Golden Rod and gave all present plenty of time to get their pictures . White Admiral did let us down , as did Common and Holly Blue , Brown Argus , Red Admiral , Sm.Tortoiseshell , Dark Green Fritillary and especially , the Purple Emperor , but everyone seemed to go away happy with what had been seen and photographed .


Warren Baker said...

Haven't recorded a single Brown Argus here this year Greenie :-( Also, Ive only seen two Common Blues!

Ken. said...

Nice posting, good selection of photo's. One of natures gruesome facts about the parasite.
Pity you missed out on quite a few on your walk.

Anonymous said...

Some years ago we Christened Oncocera semirubella as the High Elms Rhubarb and Custard Moth after the pink and yellow sweets we all ate as kids - remember them?

Greenie said...

High Elms Admin ,
Sadly , I can't re-call those pink and yellow sweets , but I seem to remember my old Dad talking about them !!!
I found several more Oncocera semirubella during the butterfly transect around the Burnt Gorse area last Thursday .