Monday, 22 August 2016

The Adonis and the Spider.

Despite the breeze today I wanted to see how the 2nd brood Adonis Blues were doing on my local patch. With the cloud lifting during the morning, and quite warm conditions, what was first surprising was the amount of Speckled Woods seen. Along the main path, about a mile in length I estimated that I saw at least 40 and quite possibly 50 plus individuals. This is the most I've seen along here for several years. Several Wall Brown were also seen, although most of these were now well past their best. On the Adonis site around 15 males were seen including one extremely fresh individual. Strangely no female Adonis were seen, hopefully they were hiding in the long grass. The Brown Argus were also out in big numbers with at least 40 seen on site. A single Clouded Yellow and Small Copper were also seen.

Male Adonis Blue.

Whilst going down a steep hill I was surprised to spot a magnificent Wasp Spider. Although these spiders are far from rare I have never seen any on the patch before. On approach she fell to the grass cover but she very soon returned to her web. Here she sat until a small fly was caught in the top of the web and she climbed up there. In this position she was much better for photography as the background became much less in focus. A picture of the underside also was nice with a corn field as the background some distance away. After leaving her another 2 Wasp Spiders were found quite quickly.

Female Wasp Spider.

Wasp Spider at top of web.

Wasp Spider under-side.

Thursday, 18 August 2016

A Very Yellow Day.

With a fabulous evening promising warm and still conditions with a light cloudy morning I put the moth trap out last night. It was generally poor this morning though, lots of moths but no rare migrants, which is what I was hoping for!! The only moth worth photographing was a lovely Canary-shouldered Thorn. With the lovely yellow fur around the head and the strange looking mouth parts it posed very well for me.

Male Canary-shouldered Thorn.

Following this I headed for the coastal area looking for the influx of Clouded Yellow. In the last few days many of these great migrant butterflies have flown over from the continent and this will probably be my last new species for the year. This brings my UK year total to 43, a little less than most years. In total I probably saw double figure numbers and this included a fabulous helice form. Some egg laying was also observed which could produce some very fresh butterflies in late October and November if the weather holds!!

Clouded Yellow.

Clouded Yellow helice form.

Tuesday, 16 August 2016

An Alternative Brown.

Yet another trip out yesterday hunting Brown Hairstreak. This time it was a site new to me with Paul who has seen several of these elusive butterflies at this site. Unfortunately the butterflies lived up to their elusive reputation by not appearing at all possibly due to the lack of nectaring plants. There were however many Brown Hawkers that kept us busy as we had one that was flying near for some time, even settling briefly.

Brown Hawker in flight.

Male Brown Hawker.

Following this we headed to a reserve where some Kingfishers have been performing well recently. Unfortunately these too were elusive with none seen. Despite sitting in the hide for a couple of hours and having a few noisy kids disturbing everything all we had was a juvenile Heron and a couple of Common Tern.

Juvenile Heron.

Common Tern.

Sunday, 14 August 2016

Tiger Trapped.

At long last I got around to putting the moth trap out again on Thursday night. With quite a warm night forecast and light cloud forecast the following morning, which helps with any photography, it looked a promising night. The following morning it was clear quite a few moths were there including a superb Jersey Tiger. 2 years ago I got the first Seaford record for this spectacular moth, with another caught 2 weeks later, which was the 3rd Seaford record as another had been caught locally by another trapper. With this latest moth I would guess there is a colony in the vicinity. Among the other moths I had my first Dusky Thorn, a super Magpie Moth and a Herald.

Jersey Tiger.

Dusky Thorn.

Magpie Moth.


Yesterday Pete and I had another search for Brown Hairstreak. However, once the cloud cover built up it was evident that any sensible Hairstreak would have gone to cover. As we were well over halfway to Chiddingfold it was decided to head there, as Wood Whites are better to photograph in cloudier conditions. Once there the clouds were still thick and it was a hunt for roosting Wood Whites. Pete found the first one on Fleabane and it was just after this that I spotted a mating pair. Although I've seen the courtship display of these several times I can't remember seeing a mating before. After watching these for a while, with the sun becoming more evident all the time making the butterflies more active we strolled slowly back. On the way we saw 2 females egg laying on Birds-foot Trefoil.

Mating Wood White. Male on left.

Mating Wood White.

Female Wood White resting after egg laying.

Wood White egg on Birds-foot Trefoil.

Thursday, 11 August 2016

Southern Emergence.

After several pleasing butterfly sessions recently it was really good to have a bit of a change with a trip with Nigel (East Sussex Wanderer) to Ashdown Forest looking for some odonata and Raft Spiders. In some of the acid pools these spiders can be found, nothing like as rare as the Fen Raft Spider, but still really good to see. The first spider was away from the pools and Nigel thought it was probably an immature female. Working through a few pools we spotted another nice spider near the edge of the pool. It was actually missing one of its legs but sat still while both of us managed a few shots.

Raft Spider.

There were plenty of teneral Black Darters also seen around the pools but none of these sat in good positions. Nigel then spotted a mature male Black Darter and we both managed a few shots of him. 

Male Black Darter.

There were quite a few excuvia around the pools and as I was looking through the binoculars I spotted one had the emerging Southern Hawker dragonfly next to it. Unfortunately it was the other side of lots of water and I decided it was impossible to get to. A bit later it was still there and Nigel, who had wellies on, decided to see if he could get there. As he succeeded I also had a go and despite getting a little wet some very pleasing shots were achieved. We also saw a very nice Emerald Damselfly and a few Small Red Damselflies, but as the sun decided to go behind the clouds things slowed down quite a bit so we called it a day early.

Emerging Southern Hawker with excuvia.

Tuesday, 9 August 2016

Brown Hairstreak.

Following on from my previous post, today it was yet another attempt at the very elusive Brown Hairstreak. On arrival at the site James and I walked into a small area of Blackthorn and immediately a female Brown Hairstreak, that had almost certainly just emerged, flew up in front of James and landed quite deep in a small bush. After a couple of movements it eventually landed on a leaf which allowed a couple of shots before moving to another leaf. On this one it stayed for several minutes, occasionally partially opening the wings. It also walked about a little showing the way the sun hitting the under-wings changed the colours of the butterfly. An amazing experience with this stunning insect. The rest of the day went by without any further sightings, but what a start to the day!!

Female Brown Hairstreak.

I'm sure in the next few days I will be out there hunting for more of these beautiful butterflies.

Sunday, 7 August 2016

Watching the Blackthorn.

After the success of last weekend the following 7 days have been a bit more frustrating with many hours spent looking at Blackthorn bushes hoping for a Brown Hairstreak to perform for me. In all the years I've spent looking for these elusive butterflies I've not really managed a shot I'm happy with. It is at the moment early in their season but to get a pristine butterfly that is what one does. The problem is that the butterflies only regularly descend once their eggs are ripened so this makes it even more elusive until that happens!! On Thursday I did see at ground level a pristine male followed an hour later by a pristine female. Unfortunately they were only at ground level for a few moments each. Lovely to see but a little frustrating!!
Also this week I did a Wall Brown count on a North facing slope on the Downs. The butterflies here are generally a couple of weeks behind my usual patch. The grass here is much more dense and many of the butterflies would have been in areas I couldn't get to. A count of 22 was however not too bad especially as it was extremely windy, although the slopes did shelter much of it from the wind. Along the bottom slopes I did find a newly emerged male that sat in the grass just long enough for a quick shot, but a fresh female flew as the shutter went off!!

Male Wall Brown.

On another stroll I came across a friendly Common Lizard, several Great Green Bush Crickets and a Skylark nest complete with 3 eggs. The bird took off just in front of me and the nest was where it took off from. A very quick look at this before covering it up and leaving it alone for the bird to come back to.

Common Lizard.

Great Green Bush Cricket.

Skylark Nest.