Sunday 31 March 2019


With cooler conditions today and a breeze blowing it was never going to be such a good day for butterflies today. I decided to go and check out the Wall Brown larva that I had found a couple of days ago to see how it was faring and if it was now looking more like how a Wall Brown larva was meant to look.
It quickly became apparent why the larva was looking different as it had started to turn into a pupa, being attached to a grass stem. I very carefully photographed it in situ and made sure it was well covered up as I left it. I then cleared some of the cut scrub that was still around after my Winter clearing some distance away.

Wall Brown larva changing into a pupa.

At this time of year the Emperor Moths have started flying and I was lucky to come across one to photograph as well as seeing a couple more on the wing. This is one of the most spectacular of Britain's macro moths and is always a delight to see.

Male Emperor Moth.

Heading back to the car I quickly checked the Wall Brown larva/pupa and was met with the dreadful sight of a Wolf Spider eating the unfortunate pupa. It appears that it had started the final transformation of wriggling out of its larval skin and the Spider had seen the movement and attacked it. Such a shame after all the effort of growing to the stage of pupation to be killed before it could become a butterfly. I have now seen 3 in this stage over the past few years that have been eaten, although the other 2 were attacked by Ants.

Saturday 30 March 2019

Butterflies Spring out.

With the fabulous warm weather over the past few days the species of butterflies flying has literally taken off.

With my first Orange-tip yesterday and lots of Small White too it was not a surprise to find 2 Speckled Wood along a local woodland path. One of them even had the decency to pose in a pretty good position for me. They were around 50 metres apart along the path, but on the return one had moved along the path into the other ones territory and a long battle commenced.

On another stroll today another 4 Speckled Wood were seen, including one that had a good part of a wing missing. Not good for the butterfly so early in its adult life.

Male Speckled Wood.

Thursday 28 March 2019

Pine Beauty.

With a calmer and milder night I put the trap out again last night. A larger number of moths this morning although there were not any rarities. However, it was nice to get my first Pine Beauty of the year, and only my 2nd ever. A few Early Grey were also in and around the trap.

Pine Beauty.

Early Grey.

A stroll around the local patch searching for Wall Brown larva was a little poor with most of the larva now going missing as they approach fully grown. This normally happens around now so it looks as though my highest count of the year at 18 will not be beaten. This is well down from the 40 in a single visit last year. 2 new larva that I hadn't seen before were found however including one that lacked the white line along the side and was also a brighter green. It didn't look quite right for a Wall Brown, but it is not right either for the other 2 possibilities either, so I guess it had just moulted.

Wall Brown larva.

Probable Wall Brown larva freshly moulted.

On the moth front I had my first Common Heath and Pyrausta despicata of the year and numbers of the tiny micro moth Ancylis comptana have grown over the past few days. This moth is just 5mm long and very hard to follow when they fly. A bit of time was spent hoping to improve my poor shots of this moth from years gone by.

Ancylis comptana.

Thursday 21 March 2019

A Couple of Beauties.

With the weather a little more settled at long last on Tuesday evening, following storms with very high winds and lots of rain, it was a chance to put the moth trap out for the 2nd time this year.

The following morning a catch of moths that just made it into double figures with a few very common moths. However, it was good to get my first ever Brindled Beauty, as well as another Oak Beauty and a Twin-spotted Quaker that made it all worthwhile.

Oak Beauty.

Male Brindled Beauty.

Twin-spotted Quaker.

Tuesday 12 March 2019

Crossbill Bath-time.

During the Winter I have had several sessions with Crossbill. A bird I have seen on numerous occasions over the years but have never managed to photograph successfully.

My earlier attempts this year were in Kent, but the last couple of efforts were closer to home in Sussex. It was also an opportunity at last to use my portable hide. This really came into its own with being able to be close to the birds without disturbing them in any way, and being able to observe them bathing and drinking from just a few metres away.

As ever at this time of year the weather didn't play ball all the time and there were several times when clouds built up much earlier than predicted, however, several observations were in full sunshine.

On the first attempt a pair arrived at the drinking pool early on and the female was quite content to walk into the pool to bathe. The male however always had foliage in front of him as he drank.

Female Crossbill poolside.

Female Crossbill starting to bathe.

Splashing around.

A while later, after the clouds had built up another visit from the pair produced a few more shots including the male drinking, albeit with a little foliage in front of him.

Male Crossbill drinking.

Female Crossbill just before dropping to the poolside.

Female drinking.

The following attempt was very quiet and it was looking as though the birds may have moved on, when out of the blue a flock of 20-30 birds landed in the surrounding trees. It was then a further wait for the birds to slowly drop down to bathe and drink. It was also very noisy with birds calling all around. A few birds went to the pool giving a short opportunity for some photos before all the birds flew away.

Male Crossbill.

Male Crossbill drinking.

Female Crossbill bathing.

Female drinking.

A much quieter day, despite the one flock arriving in the several hours spent brought my Crossbill attempts to an end for this Winter/Spring. The thought is now that most of the birds will have paired up so there will only be very infrequent visits now to the many pools.

Thursday 7 March 2019

Oak Beauties.

A few years ago, after purchasing an MV mothtrap, my first moth was an Oak Beauty. I joked at the time that the moth had cost me around £350. Of course it wasn't long before many more moths had been caught, so the cost of each moth reduced dramatically!!

However, I hadn't caught another Oak Beauty until last week, when I put the trap out for the first time this year. The following morning there was an Oak Beauty on the fence by the trap, and a darker individual inside the trap. A March Moth was the only other moth caught.

Despite the Oak Beauty being a very well patterned moth it is extremely well camouflaged when sitting on the bark of a tree.

The two Oak Beauties caught.

The darker Oak Beauty.

A more normal Oak Beauty.

March Moth.