Wednesday 29 August 2018

Lady Adonis.

It has been difficult in the past few weeks to get out into the countryside, so it was quite a relief over the past few days to get 2 decent strolls in. Even then, the weather was not particularly helpful on the first walk.

However, it was good to see many Adonis Blues on the patch. The 2nd brood has been pretty good locally. Most of the males are now looking as though they have been out a while, but there were plenty of females showing, with several nectaring or resting on the numerous Devil's-bit Scabious and others busy egg laying in the short turf.

Roosting Female Adonis Blue.

Female Adonis Blue on Devil's-bit Scabious.

I have heard several reports of high numbers of Autumn Ladies Tresses on the downs. However, my small colonies on the patch are very poor at the moment with only 3 single plants in 3 areas. It is still early though, so I am hoping more will show in the near future. Of the 3 seen, one was still not fully out, whilst the other 2 were quite different with one very impressive plant having the flowers circling around the stem, and the other one all the flower was one side of the stem. These are the final orchids to flower each year, really sad to think another season is already coming to a close.

Autumn Ladies Tresses.

Autumn Ladies Tresses.

I am expecting the final brood of Wall Brown to start this week. Yesterday all I saw were a couple of very tatty 2nd brood which were just hanging on. There were very large numbers of Small Heath with some areas having double figures all flying together. Some old Chalk-hill Blues were also just hanging on, but a Small Copper seen on the Scabious was extremely fresh with its wings still partly folded up. Let's hope for a good 3rd brood of these lovely little gems.

Several Wasp Spiders were also still showing well, and some of the females are now very large.

Sunday 19 August 2018

Anyone For Cricket.

With the weather taking a turn for the worse lately, it was a case of trying to work out what to go and look for.

Following my last hunt for the Southern Emerald Damselfly ending in failure I had assumed that the damselfly had moved on. Then earlier this week Nigel saw either that one, or another male, so on Friday we both met up to see if we could have another go at this rare beauty. 
After much hunting in perfect conditions all we had for our efforts was a Small Red-eyed Damselfly, which kept too far out in the pool, and a rather nice female Great Green Bush-cricket.

Female Great Green Bush-cricket.

The only other time during the week when I had any camera action was a walk along the local patch where the Adonis Blues are suddenly doing well. Although the conditions did not bear well for photography, one female posed reasonably well. I also found a larger Buff-tip larva than those I found a couple of weeks ago.

Female Adonis Blue.

Buff-tip larva.

Saturday 11 August 2018

Wasp Spiders.

I can still remember the very first time I saw a Wasp Spider. It was around 25 years ago at the top of Charleston Bottom on the edge of Friston Forest when Pen and I had taken our 2 young lads for a walk there. I then saw them occasionally over following years, although most years I failed in my searches for them.

However, as the years went on it has become clear that Wasp Spiders were becoming gradually more common. Now though, over the past 4 years, they have become very much more numerous locally. Last year I saw well over 100 of these wonderful creatures. Today was only my 2nd of the year, but in a small area there were large numbers of them. It was actually quite difficult photographing one without disturbing others and their webs nearby.

As the Autumn approaches many more of them will be seen!!
The main prey of these spiders is Grasshoppers, although one today had a Small White and a Common Blue in its web.

Wasp Spider (Argiope bruennichi).

Before seeing the spiders I had seen large numbers of Silver-spotted Skippers on the Downland slopes. Many were females looking to lay eggs on the Sheep Fescue grass. Surprisingly, I had never seen the egg of this species before, so when I spotted a female that appeared to be egg laying I watched very closely, seeing the egg pop out from the end of the abdomen. Then looking through the camera with the macro lens on closest focus I spotted another 4 eggs in very close proximity to the one just laid. These were not as white as the freshly laid one so had been there for longer. For such a small butterfly the eggs were surprisingly large.

Silver-spotted Skipper Egg.

On the subject of butterfly eggs, last week I was on the local patch when I saw a female Wall Brown go into a scrape, obviously looking to lay. When she flew off I had a good look on all the small roots expecting to see an egg. However, I was very surprised to find 2 eggs next to each other that the butterfly had laid on a Thistle seed-head.

Wall Brown eggs on Thistle Seed-head.

Wednesday 8 August 2018

Southern Emerald Damselfly.

On Sunday I was halfway through the weekly shop at Sainsburys when I had a text from Matt telling me there was a Southern Emerald Damselfly in a localish dew pond. 

I decided not to do what Matt had done when a rare bird had turned up when he was in a similar situation, abandoning the half full trolley in the middle of the shop and running out!! Instead I carried on and decided that as I was in the area the following day I would wait and hope it was still there.

So, on Monday I was to do my Wider Butterfly Survey, and this finished at the exact spot where I was hoping to see the damselfly. 
As it was, it was the first thing I saw when I arrived at the dewpond. I managed to get some good views through the binoculars, but I decided I would need the longer lens on, so I changed lenses, and then the damselfly vanished. Of course, being such a rare insect I was keen to get at least a record shot so I kept on searching hoping it would re-appear.

After around 30 minutes it was suddenly there in front of me again. From then on it performed well for me until I decided to call it a day. By then I had managed several shots with both the telephoto and the macro lens. Being an Emerald Damselfly it typically held the wings out when settled, which makes it impossible to get the wings sharp. However, the diagnostic dark and light wing-spots were very obvious.

Well done to the person that originally found the damselfly on the Saturday. This is an extremely rare migrant damselfly and could well be the first Sussex record. Several have been found in Kent in recent years and apparently a few have also been seen in Hertfordshire, as with several migrant species of Dragonfly and Damselfly this is another that will probably soon be colonising this Country.

Southern Emerald Damselfly showing the two tone wing-spots.

Male Southern Emerald Damselfly.

Today, I decided to go and have another look for the damselfly, as the weather was a bit cooler and with some cloud about the lighting would be a little different. However, with a cool strong breeze blowing and heavier cloud while I was at the dewpond there was no sign of it. 

On the way though I had a good hunt for Hawk Moth caterpillars. Generally this is a frustrating pastime and as usual I did struggle with just a few Looper larva spotted. I then came across a small group of Buff-tip larva which gave me a photo opportunity.

Buff-tip larva on Sallow.

On the return to where I had parked the car I had another search and eventually I found a half grown Poplar Hawk-moth larva.

Poplar Hawk-moth larva.