Tuesday 28 September 2021

Hairstreak Hunt

 A few weeks ago Matt and I were leading a tour for Naturetrek with a target of several late summer downland butterflies. 

The previous week Pete and I went to a couple of sites that just needed checking out to make sure they were suitable for the forthcoming trip. As it turned out it was a very worthwhile exercise.

With plenty of Adonis Blue and Autumn Ladies Tresses seen we then headed for one of the Brown Hairstreak sites where we were treated to a couple of very nice female Brown Hairstreak. There were plenty of other delights at both sites and therefore day one of the tour was sorted!!

Autumn Ladies Tresses.

Mating Adonis Blues.

Adonis Blue enjoying a Carline Thistle.

Several Male Adonis Blue getting minerals from a dead Rabbit, along with many Flies and Wasps also tucking in.

A beautiful  male Yellow Belle.

Female Brown Hairstreak.

Common Lizard on a post.

Saturday 25 September 2021

In and Around the Garden.

 In what has been pretty disappointing catches in the moth trap recently, I was very surprised and pleased to catch a Lace Border, one I assume that had come from my little local colony. This perhaps shows that the colony may be looking to expand out from its main area?

Lace Border.

Clare sometime ago gave me a tub of Purple Toadflax in the hope that I may get some Toadflax Brocade larva in the not too distant future. This is a moth I've only caught a couple of times before, but is one that she gets quite a few of, so when I found 3 larva on the plant this week I expect the eggs were already on the plant when she passed it on to me. A stunning looking larva and hopefully in the Spring I will get some adult moths to lay more eggs for next year.

Toadflax Brocade larva.

Meanwhile on a potted Willow, also in the garden a couple of Grey Dagger are enjoying eating the leaves. Another really good looking species in the larval stage.

Grey Dagger larva.

Going back to Clare, she recently caught a Sombre Brocade in her trap, this is a moth that is possibly  beginning to colonise parts of the South East, although her capture is only the 3rd for East Sussex, and possibly Sussex as a whole?

Sombre Brocade.

Birdlife migrating through the garden has been slightly better than usual this year with 3 notable birds in the past couple of weeks. A Common Redstart and Spotted Flycatcher were here at the same time and just a few days later a young Pied Flycatcher appeared.

Spotted Flycatcher.

In the meadow at the back of the house I found a Vestal during the week. This is a small migrant moth and one that isn't seen too often.


In the same meadow I also found a very sad looking Knot Grass larva that had come to a very sticky end as it had been parasitized by something very horrible.

Parasitized Knott Grass larva.

Sunday 19 September 2021

Early Autumnal Walks.

 It doesn't seem possible that it now seems Autumn is just about here. Fortunately, the past week has been reasonable weather-wise, with light winds (at last) and some sunshine.

A few strolls out and about have given me a few opportunities to photograph a few bits of interest, both along a stretch of river and some local woodlands.

It is quite a good time of year to look out for some immature stages amongst the insects, and several nice caterpillars have been found, it was also good to see the Willow Emerald numbers have built up in one of my local colonies. It is also a good time for getting the odd surprise as some 3rd brood butterflies get going. This week alone I've seen some fresh Wall Brown, Brown Argus and the gorgeous Small Copper. Red Admirals seem to be everywhere as does some very fresh Comma.

Young Knot Grass larva.

Female Wasp Spider.



Adder. (melanic form).

Speckled Bush Cricket.

Mating Willow Emerald.

Birch Mocha larva.

Birch Mocha larva green form.

The bizarre looking Scalloped Hook-tip larva.

A stunning Small Copper that was very much enjoying the Fleabane.

Friday 10 September 2021


 Following my finding of 3 new local sites for the Willow Emerald damselfly in 2020 I have had a few visits this year to see how the colonies are getting on now.

The first couple of visits were quite disappointing as only a single damselfly was seen, and that was seen on a small branch coming from the opposite bank and only binocular views were obtained.

It was good though to see plenty of Crickets in the undergrowth, and on one of the visits that had started a bit cloudy, as I was finishing the session the sun started to appear , and with that several Crickets were seen warming up on the Dock leaves. One of the Dark Bush Cricket's was laid flat out along the leaf looking like it was really enjoying a bit of sunbathing!!

A sunbathing Dark Bush Cricket.

A little bit further along the river I found several more Dark and Roesel's Bush Cricket also warming up as the temperature was rising with a bit of sunshine.

Female Dark Bush Cricket.

Female Roesel's Bush Cricket.

My most recent visit to the site did at last produce several Willow Emerald with up to 7 seen. This does seem to be a later site than many as last year I only started to see them in September.

Female Willow Emerald.

With the above Crickets photographed I wanted to see the much rarer Wart-biter again. This cricket is only found in a handful of sites in the UK naturally, although it is being introduced and re-introduced at a few sites to safeguard it for the future.

One of its best natural sites is not too far away so with a slightly dodgy forecast yesterday I risked a visit to see if I could find one and get some photos which wouldn't be in very harsh, strong sunshine.

The problem was, the weather forecast was for once pretty accurate and I arrived in a bit of fog, so all I saw for the first 2 hours were many cob-webs and a few roosting butterflies.

A wet Garden Cross Spider on a very wet web.

After wandering about for a long time I was beginning to get a bit despondent, but just before I left the site a little bit of brightness appeared, and suddenly there were a few butterflies taking to the wing and a few grasshoppers jumping about. That made me wait a little longer and then I suddenly spotted the target. The Wart-biter is a pretty large cricket but fortunately as it was still not particularly warm he was a bit slower and docile than they usually are.

A truly wonderful Cricket that looks as though it is always wearing a large green crash helmet.

Male Wart-biter.

Male Wart-biter.

Monday 6 September 2021

Those Blue Eyes.

 A week after I had found one of the breeding areas for the Southern Migrant Hawker along the Cuckmere valley I returned to see if there were any still holding territory.

This time I found at least 2 males present and also a female that I disturbed when walking around the area. As soon as she had taken flight she was pounced on by one of the males and mating occurred straight away. Once they had joined up they flew close around me and once settled very briefly in a nearby bush, before then flying straight into the middle of a vast reed-bed.

At least this time though, I did manage to get a few shots of a settled male that landed near me, once again only briefly. Flight shots were much more difficult this time as they were not hovering so much in the area, possibly due to them knowing females were also in the vicinity.

Male Southern Migrant Hawker.

My only flight shot from the short session of the male Southern Migrant Hawker.