Saturday 29 September 2018

Down the Levels.

On Wednesday I managed to meet up with Nigel, who was keen to show me the colony of Willow Emerald Damselfly that he had found on Pevensey Levels. We have both been expecting to come across this species over the past few years, but Nigel spends much more time than I do in this area and it was a very well deserved find for him.
The Willow Emerald has been spreading over the past few years following their colonisation of the UK that started around 2007 and at last they seem to have reached Sussex with several colonies now becoming established.
Although the damselflies we saw kept away from the cameras it was great to finally see a Sussex Willow Emerald.

Along the ditches were large numbers of Common Darter and also Migrant Hawkers, many of these were mating pairs.

Mating pair of Migrant Hawker.

After the walk we sat near the cars for a cuppa and a general chat, which as usual got around to putting the World to right, when I spotted the larva of the Pale Tussock moth. These larva are a particular favourite of mine and unusually this one posed quite well for the camera as it did its impression of a loo brush!!

Pale Tussock larva.

Thursday 27 September 2018

Copper Evening.

On Monday evening I managed a very quick visit to one of my favourite Small Copper colonies. This has been a very successful area for me over the past few years, but with it being a few weeks into the 3rd brood I really thought that all the best specimens would be over and I would have missed my chance.

As it was, it was clear right from the start that there were still plenty of butterflies about with lots of butterflies taking advantage of the sunny conditions. However, as expected most were showing signs of being on the wing for some time, and several had probably also got a bit battered over the weekend that had been extremely wet and windy.

Eventually though, a couple of reasonably fresh individuals were found and they performed reasonably well as they started to go to roost. A short 30 minute session, but great to get out with the camera again.

Small Copper on Agrimony.

Small Copper going to roost.

Small Copper on Agrimony seed.

Sunday 23 September 2018

Spring Reeling Gropper.

Back in the long forgotten Spring Matt helped me see and hear a fabulous Grasshopper Warbler that we saw at pretty close quarters as it performed the famous 'reeling' call. It was an extremely early morning start and the sun was not even showing when the bird appeared, but it was certainly worth getting up for!!

Put simply, it is a sight and sound that I am not going to forget in a hurry!! I can only show you the sight, but if you haven't heard the fabulous 'reeling' before it is well worth looking at some of the recordings on Youtube that are available of these birds performing.

The bird first appeared some distance away, but gradually it came closer until it was just a matter of around 20 feet away.

Reeling Grasshopper Warbler

Male Grasshopper Warbler.

Friday 14 September 2018

Small Pearls.

It has been very difficult over the past few weeks to get out much, so I have been looking over photos from the past few months, and I noticed that I had somehow not posted any photos of the Small Pearl-bordered Fritillaries that have in 2017 been re-introduced back into East Sussex.

2 local woodlands were used for this with one being the main woodland that only lost the butterfly a few years ago. This has been the more successful of the 2 woods. I only managed to visit the wood twice in the early summer brood but a few of these delightful butterflies did show quite well.

There was even a 2nd brood hat did very well, but once again, I failed to get there during the flight period. 

A small selection of the images I managed on those 2 short visits.

Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary.

Sunday 9 September 2018

Autumnal Delights.

With so few opportunities to get out recently, apart from a few very quick visits looking for 3rd brood Wall Brown, it was good today to have a longer session on the patch.

The first 3rd brood Wall Brown was seen on Thursday by James, some distance away from the normal spot. 3 days later today, I found 7 Wall Brown where the 3rd brood does normally show. The first Wall I saw was actually the same geriatric 2nd brood individual that I have been seeing several times over the past week. Then however, I saw 6 very fresh butterflies that were clearly 3rd brood. I even had a mating pair. However, for the rest of the long walk I couldn't find any further Wall Brown.

Male Wall Brown.

Also near the spot where the Wall Brown were, was a very nice Hummingbird Hawk-moth that landed several times on the fence posts and a couple of bushes. Each time it settled it only stayed for a few seconds, until it landed on a bush. Here it stayed just long enough for a couple of shots. Most photos of these are taken on the wing as they feed.

Hummingbird Hawk-moth.

Lots of tired butterflies of many species were seen over the rest of the walk including a late Silver-spotted Skipper, many Adonis Blue, a few Chalk-hill Blue and lots of Small Heath.

On Thursday I spotted a Clouded Yellow egg laying. Watching closely an egg was seen being laid which will hopefully become a butterfly towards the end of October, along with many other eggs that the butterfly was laying. 

Clouded Yellow egg.

The Red Admiral pupa in the garden looks very smart now. It even appears to have gold leaf embedded in the pupa. A very smart and beautiful pupa.

Red Admiral pupa 3/9/2018

Red Admiral pupa 9/9/2018. Now slightly paler.

Sunday 2 September 2018

Hornet Robberfly.

My brief outings continued with a short visit to the patch, once again hoping for the 3rd brood Wall Brown on the same date as last year's appearance.
It wasn't to be however, and after a short while I saw James who was busy photographing a very fresh male Holly Blue. It didn't pose as well once I turned up, but I did get a couple of shots of this tricky species.

Male Holly Blue.

Further along the valley we were into the area where many Wasp Spiders are showing. Although I now have several shots of these stunning spiders I still couldn't resist a couple more. This included the more unusual under-side shot.

Female Wasp Spider.

On the walk along we had seen a couple of Hornet Robberflies. On the return we were hoping to see another and we struck lucky when one was spotted, this one had caught a small Beetle and was sucking the 'innards' out of it. Although it flew a few times it did land closely each time and a few photos were taken. These Robberflies are great hunters and fabulous to watch, certainly a highlight being able to watch these.

Hornet Robberfly with prey.

Yesterday a quick visit to Friston Forest looking for Hawk-moth larva. Unfortunately, I couldn't find any. Some good views of Spotted Flycatchers, possibly a family group of around 4 or 5. The only larva I could find was a Peppered Moth on Sallow. This larva has amazing camouflage, looking like a twig.

Peppered Moth larva.

I also had a Red Admiral larva on the garage door on Thursday. As it fell off the door when I opened the door I placed it on some foliage in the garden. Later that day I noticed it had started to make a small larval tent in a Buddleia leaf. The next day it had started to pupate and it was just possible to photograph it in the leaf. Today it has now turned into a proper pupa and I hope I will be able to observe it as it matures.

Red Admiral in the process of pupating.