Friday 27 September 2019

Survey Highlights

Each year I do a butterfly survey in a private woodland to check on the progress of a re-introduction program of Pearl-bordered Fritillaries.

In doing the surveys there are always plenty of other interesting insects to look out for though and this year there have been many highlights, some of which have already been posted. However, there are still some that I haven't posted, mainly moths and common butterflies.

Later in the year there was a moth trap run and several interesting moths were caught with the stars being a couple of Dark Crimson Underwing.

Olethreutes arcuella.

Four-dotted Footman.

Male Meadow Brown.

Female White-legged Damselfly.

Female Marbled White.

Dark Crimson Underwing.


Pale Eggar.

Pebble Hook-tip.

Monday 23 September 2019

2019 Dragons.

As ever throughout the year I have been on the lookout for some of our amazing dragonflies and damselflies, although with so many distractions this year I haven't been able to give as much time to them as usual.

This is a selection of some of my favourite odonata moments from the year which starts with the beautiful Scarce Chaser that I saw during a butterfly survey in the late Spring and finishing with the Brown Hawker in the Autumn, which is possibly the hardest species to photograph.

Scarce Chaser.

Female Broad-bodied Chaser.

Female Broad-bodied Chaser.

Teneral Black-tailed Skimmer.

Four-spot Chaser.

Male Small Red-eyed Damselfly.

Southern Hawker.

Male Migrant Hawker.

Male Brown Hawker.

Monday 16 September 2019

Big Long Thing.

Over the past few years I have spent time looking for a Privet Hawk-moth caterpillar on the wild Privet that grows locally over the Downs, but in all that time I have failed to find one.

Looking through some very old photos a while back I was surprised to find I had some photos of a half grown one from way back but that was about it.

On Thursday I was doing a bit of gardening for a lady in Seaford when I spotted amongst the weeds a fully grown Privet Hawk-moth Caterpillar. Amazing what you can find when you are not looking for it!!  It is surprising how difficult they can be to find in the wild as they are not rare and they are enormous.  Brilliant to have found one at last.

Privet Hawk-moth caterpillar.

Monday 9 September 2019

Aqua Arachnids.

A few years ago I was with Nigel in Ashdown Forest when we spotted a large Spider sitting on the acid pool whilst we were looking for emerging Dragonflies.  We realised straight away that we had found a Raft Spider.  This was the start of us both getting rather fascinated by these large impressive creatures.

We then found out that we were near to both of the species of Raft Spider that can be found in the UK with the Spider we had found in Ashdown being the Raft Spider (Dolomedes fimbriatus) and the largest colony in the UK of the much rarer Fen Raft Spider (Dolomedes plantarius) being found on the Pevensey Levels.  

Nigel really went to town with the Fen Raft and Pevensey Levels has since become his main area of wildlife watching.

We have now seen many of the rarer Fen Raft Spider and numerically this species is clearly much more numerous in Sussex than the more common Raft Spider!!

With less opportunities to go out this year I have just managed a couple of visits to both sites this year to see both species and I apologise to anyone that suffers from arachnophobia!!

If it is any consolation these spiders are totally harmless unless you are a small insect or a fish!!

Raft Spider (Dolomedes fimbriatus).

Both of my visits to the Fen Raft Spider has been when the females are guarding their spiderlings in the nursery webs and in the photos these webs can be seen with the hundreds of spiderling.

Fen Raft Spider (Dolomedes plantarius) with nursery web.

Fen Raft Spider to the left with nursery web.

Friday 6 September 2019

A Bit of Birding.

Over the past week or so I have not been out too much, but when I have been out I have been hoping for a Clouded Yellow.  It's not very often that I have to wait as long as this to get my first one of the year.

It was pleasing to get the first 3rd brood Wall Brown on Sunday with probably 2 of them seen as well as a couple of tatty 2nd brood.  The following day a 3rd brood female was seen and then yesterday morning one female and two male 3rd brood and one 2nd brood seen.

However the only photos I took were of a young Buzzard that flew close when I was on the top of the hill.

Young Buzzard in flight.

Yesterday afternoon Matt called round for a while and we decided to go for a stroll down the lower Cuckmere.

Early September can be very good for throwing up a rarity or two but that wasn't the case yesterday, although one of the released White Storks, probably from Knepp, did show well in flight.

White Stork.

Waders along the river were few and far between with a couple of juvenile Ringed Plover, a couple of Whimbrel and singles of both Black and Bar-tailed Godwit.

Juvenile Ringed Plover.

A little further on I saw at last my first Clouded yellow of the year, and hopefully the first of many!!  At the same time a Small Copper was nectaring on the Fleabane and it was also an aberrant form radiata.  

This is the 2nd time I've come across this aberrant form so at least I knew the name of it!!

Small Copper ab. radiata.

Thursday 5 September 2019

Hairstreak Hunt.

A couple of weeks ago I was out hunting Brown Hairstreaks locally with Nigel.  This isn't the first year we have tried to find some more local examples of this species, and this year we had the same result!!  A big fat zero.

However, we made the best of it with some good sightings of other butterfly and dragonfly species in the 2 different areas we checked out.

Female Holly Blue.

Painted Lady.

Common Darter.

Migrant Hawker.

Painted Lady on Fleabane.