Tuesday 29 April 2014

From Bizarre to Beauty.

Last week I had an invite from Nigel to visit his Wood near the Sussex/Kent border where he had found some White Admiral larvae, a larva I had never seen before and one which looks very bizarre. They moved very slowly and got into some very odd positions as they moved along the honeysuckle. Unfortunately I was not able to find any myself but Nigel managed to find another 3 to add to the 3 he had already found.

And to think this beast turns into the beautiful White Admiral butterfly.

Just before we left for the wood I photographed a Great Prominent moth that Nigel had caught in his moth trap the night before. Another new species for me. Many thanks to Nigel for a great day.

Sunday 27 April 2014

A wet, cool day comes good!!

I very nearly didn't go out this morning as the weather was cool and breezy with the promise of a few showers. I'm really pleased now though that I made the effort as after checking the larva and pupa a Wall Brown took off from nearby. I couldn't believe it as I had 2 shirts and a coat on and I was still not that warm.  I then saw a female Wall Brown but lost it pretty quickly, this was a bit frustrating as the female is even harder than the male to get good photographs of. I then looked at the Small Tortoiseshell larvae which were mostly in a large mass with a few of the larger ones spread over the stinging nettles. 

After leaving these I spotted a freshly emerged female Wall Brown sunning itself in the weak but improving weather, a very slow steady approach and I managed 3 pictures before a male flew over and the female went up to join it. They quickly paired up and I managed some pictures of the mating. I left them after around 20 minutes during which time had I protected them from a heavy shower.

Saturday 26 April 2014

Back to the Wall.

With so many trips up the hill recently I've seen many freshly emerged Wall Brown, as usual with this species they are very difficult to approach, however, in the last few days I've managed to have a bit of success. It is good to get some pictures whilst they are still in such good condition. I'm still hoping for more pictures of these over the next couple of weeks.

All these are males.

Friday 25 April 2014

Grass Snake and Skippers.

I'm now slowly catching up with this report from last Wednesday when Nigel came over to look at my Wall Brown pupa and also to look for larvae in the grasses.
Pretty soon I had seen my first Grizzled Skipper of the year and after a short look for larvae other than Wall Brown and a check on the pupa we headed over the hill to look for other butterflies in the valley. 
On the way there we came across a fabulous Grass Snake that was right out in the open, being careful not to panic the creature we quietly approached it and managed some fine close up shots of this normally difficult to approach snake. After taking a few pictures the snake carried on slithering towards the bushes some 40 metres away. Across the road the butterflies were still not too forthcoming.

The following day I went back to once again monitor the pupa, whilst there I was lucky to find both Grizzled and Dingy Skippers as well as the first Sussex Small Heath of the year. Two brilliant days of watching and photographing wildlife.

Grizzled Skipper

Dingy Skipper

Small Heath

Thursday 24 April 2014

An Orange Day!!

Just over a week ago on the Tuesday I went over to Arlington looking for Orange-tips. There is a fabulous display of Cuckoo Flower that is attracting good numbers of the butterfly. Unfortunately it is also attracting a few other photographers, on arrival there were 3 others there already so, as I was after a bit of peace and quiet. I decided instead to go down a bridle path where I saw a few butterflies last week. I'm glad I did as I soon had a couple of male Orange-tips flying and occasionally resting up. A fantastic afternoon with just myself for company and a few fabulous butterflies.

Tuesday 22 April 2014

A Green Day!!

Due to my computer being unwell for the past week I have a bit of catching up to do. On the 14th April I was after one of my favourite butterflies, the Green Hairstreak. This species is particularly special when they are really fresh. I have managed to photograph them in the past on their first day, but this day was even better as it had I believe only just emerged. It flew only short distances and settled on the ground all the time, instead of on bushes, as is normal with this species. I managed to get many images of this little beauty. 

It was also an excellent day with it being warm most of the day and 3 new species for the year in the shape of a Large White, Small Copper and the Dingy Skipper.

Dingy Skipper.

Saturday 12 April 2014

The Long Search.

I reckon I have spent upwards of 12 hours over the last couple of years trying to find another Wall Brown pupa. The larva are quite easy to find and follow all through their growth, but the pupa, it has been driving me to distraction!! Today though, at long last I found one. Last year I found one that had been discovered by ants as it was actually pupating and they were eating it as I found it. So it was a massive relief to find this one today. I then went on to relocate the larva that I've been following and this was feeding up and was probably near to pupating. A Peacock and web of Browntail Moth larva were also seen nearby.


Browntail Moth larva

Wall Brown pupa

feeding Wall Brown larva

Friday 11 April 2014

Pine Beauty.

With a milder night promised last night I put the moth trap out for the third time this year. Once again the most numerous moth was the Early Grey with Hebrew Character just behind. The best looking moth of the day was the Pine Beauty, a moth I haven't had before. Another good moth was the Lesser Swallow Prominent as well as a couple of Powdered Quaker. 

Pine Beauty

Lesser Swallow Prominent

Powdered Quaker

It was then out for a short time to help Nigel find a Marbled White larva. On the way to meeting him I was pleased to see my first Wall Brown adult of the year. Seven Marbled White larva were then found including one brown form as well as several day flying moths with 3 Burnet Companions and a Pyrausta Ostrinalis.

Marbled White larva, brown form

Burnet Companion

Thursday 10 April 2014

Green Hairstreak and Speckled Wood.

The Spring is now moving at a fast pace as new butterflies appear. Today I was on a long walk when I came across Neville and Janet Richardson who told me they had seen a Green Hairstreak. I tried to relocate it but was unable to find it. I then looked around a couple of areas where I had seen them in the past and I managed to see 2 others, 1 of which I managed to get a poor record shot before it vanished. This sighting is 9 days earlier than I have seen this species before and several weeks earlier than last year. Around 15 Speckled Wood were also seen including 2 females and one Green Veined White.

My first Green Hairstreak of 2014

Speckled Wood

Male Speckled Wood.

Wednesday 9 April 2014

Torts, Tips and Damselfly.

A day spent around Arlington today produced 2 new butterflies for the year as well as my first damselfly of the year. In sunny conditions, but a cool breeze, I started off with a Green Veined White near the reservoir. It was then mainly Small Tortoiseshell seen with the odd Peacock and Brimstone. Quite a bit of egg laying was going on on the nettle banks including one group of 3 all laying on the same nettle. Several Drinker Moth larva were seen along the hedgerows before seeing my first Orange-tips of the year around the Cuckoo Flower. Probably around 12 Orange-tips seen all together including one female. It was a bit breezy to get any decent photos of these. Apart from the Orange-tips the highlight of the day was my first Damselfly of the year in the shape of a Large Red Damselfly.

egg laying Small Tortoiseshell

Drinker Moth larva

female Orange-tip

Large Red Damselfly

Tuesday 8 April 2014

Marbled White larva.

I had just over an hour today trying and failing again to find a Wall Brown pupa. It is amazing how well hidden they are. I did find another near fully grown larva so there is still quite a bit of time to find one. I also found several moth larvae and what I believe to be a green form Marbled White larva. This larva is rarely seen as when they are fully grown they become nocturnal.

 Marbled White larva

Also today I attempted photographing one of the local Robins. They have been quite active recently as they have a nest with chicks nearby.

Sunday 6 April 2014

The Emperor Moth.

With the weather being very poor today I decided in my small window of opportunity to once again look for some Wall Brown pupa. I have now spent a few hours this year looking for them with absolutely no luck, and today was much the same. I'm really glad that I found one 2 years ago, but I want another one!
 I did find a couple of very small Emperor Moth larva as well as a tiny Wall Brown larva and a few large moth larva. With the back beginning to ache I decided I had had enough but with the Emperor larva as well as the female Emperor wing the other day on my mind I thought I would just look around the bushes in the very faint hope of seeing my first ever Emperor Moth. I was walking very slowly past a bush when I saw what I thought was a large leaf, I did a double take as amazingly it was a female Emperor Moth just sitting there in the dull damp conditions. Fortunately it did eventually brighten up just enough to get a few photos. Despite a little wing damage it was a fabulous sight and one which I thought I would never ever see. It just goes to show that it is always worth putting in the effort to get out there!!

I also saw my first Swallow of the year today.

Thursday 3 April 2014

Wasteland. What Wasteland?

With less than an hour available late morning I quickly visited the so called wasteland nearby where a massive amount of stinging nettles were growing. Immediately Small Tortoiseshell were very evident with several flying around and settling, with some looking for egg laying sites. There was one old male that was so tatty it was only just possible to identify it as a Small Tortoiseshell. However, when other males came near he was still able to see off the best of the opposition!! There were also several Comma flying along with a Brimstone and a couple of Peacock. I was so engrossed with all this activity that I was running a little late. I was rushing home when a newly emerged female Holly Blue fluttered down in front of me. I managed an underside shot of this as another Holly Blue flew over me. Unfortunately, with the wind blowing she wouldn't perform by opening her wings for me.

Small Tortoiseshell

Small Tortoiseshell

Small Tortoiseshell egg laying



female Holly Blue