Friday, 3 July 2015

Friday Flutters.

My butterfly forays this week started on Monday with good views of a single male Silver-washed Fritillary during a transect walk on Ashtead Common.

During this walk I recorded 9 different species with Meadow Brown (see left) producing the highest count of 58 separate individuals. The other species were Small Skipper (3), Small/Essex Skipper (4), Large Skipper (9), White Admiral (1), Red Admiral (1), Speckled Wood (6) and Ringlet (13).

Record shot (above) of a resting Ringlet.

On Thursday I joined a Butterfly Conservation walk at Bookham Common and after a very quiet start with total cloud cover and a sprinkling of rain the group eventually logged 18 species including a brief high flying view of a Purple Emperor plus good numbers of White Admiral and plenty Silver-washed Fritillary.

At our lunch stop I saw my first Gatekeeper of the year, a very fresh male (above) and a slight detour from our planned route enabled me to also add Comma (below) to the day list.

Today I undertook another recording session on Ashtead Common in much higher temperatures and again logged nine separate species which included the usual Skippers (17), Large White (1), Purple Hairstreak (1), Peacock (1), Silver-washed Fritillary (1) plus White Admiral (7) and larger counts of Meadow Brown (61) together with Ringlets (37).
Best recording day so far this year with a total of 126 individual butterflies logged .... I wonder how many I missed!

As expected the White Admirals were fairly active; flying in the shade close to Honeysuckle, their host plant; so I only had a brief opportunity for a record shot when one individual perched for a moment or two in not a particularly ideal location.
I was slightly surprised not to find more Silver-washed Fritillary but I'll end this post with another image of the individual I located earlier this week. FAB.

Linking to Saturday's Critters and Andyslens: 'Weekend Butterfly #04'

Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Silver-washed Fritillary.

Yesterday I had my first sighting this year of a male Silver-washed Fritillary (Argynnis paphia) patrolling a sunny glade on Ashtead Common.  FAB.

Linking to Andyslens  'Weekend Butterfly #04'.

Friday, 26 June 2015

Friday Flutters - Transect Update.

Speckled Wood.
Throughout the first nine weeks (mid April to mid May) of recording butterfly sightings during my fixed transect walks on Ashtead Common N.N.R. this northern part of the ancient oak woodland had produced just ten different species with the most abundant being Brimstone (14) and Speckled Wood (21).

On many visits the total number of species logged were in low single figures mainly due to the lower temperatures and gusty winds.  Fortunately there were other distractions such as watching and listening to singing Chiffchaff, Wren, Blackcap and Garden Warblers.

During these periods of flutter inactivity I gathered a few images of some of the wild flowers encountered along my route including Garlic Mustard, Hawthorn, Stitchwort, Speedwell and Primrose.

My walk earlier this week was again under a grey sky with the sun almost permanently obscured but the species and numbers logged contrasted dramatically to all my previous visits.

My first sighting in a small sunlit clearing was a resting male Large Skipper (Ochlodes sylvanus).


Apart from a couple of flying Speckled Wood I didn't spot anything else throughout the first three heavily shaded sections of the transect. As I entered one of the the main open wooded pasture glades I spotted a distant flying Meadow Brown but got briefly distracted by this Scorpion Fly (Panorpa communis).  

Walking across the open grassy glade towards the King Oak produced 17 Meadow Browns (Maniola jurina) and several more were logged in two subsequent sections.


While stepping gingerly through the ferns to photograph the Meadow Browns I spotted a Ladybird and took a quick record shot without paying much attention to its probable identity but later realised that it was one of the European invaders, a Harlequin (Harmonia axyridis).

The other Skipper species logged that was relatively easy to identify by the long thin curved sex brand was a number of Small Skipper (Thymelicus sylvestris).

The Small (T. sylvestris) and Essex (T. lineola) Skippers are often encountered in the same grassland habitat and notoriously difficult to distinguish between unless you can confirm the underside colour of the antenna-tip so I'll reserve judgement on this final image (below).

The final tally for this walk was 31 butterflies but only four species. Hopefully the coming weeks will produce some more interesting sightings.  FAB.

For some views of 'Sunbathing Reptiles' check out my most recent post on FABirding.

Linking to Saturday's Critters, Macro Monday 2 and Nature Notes.


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