Monday, 3 August 2015

Small and Essex Skippers.

Small Skipper (Male)

All transect walkers have been requested to make more effort in distinguishing between two very similar species, the Small and Essex Skippers, based on the following slightly different field marks.

Small Skipper: Undersides of the tips of the antennae are orange-brown. The male has a slightly curved, conspicuous sex brand on each of its upper fore-wings. both sexes are very similar.
Essex Skipper: Undersides of the tip of the antennae are black. The male has short, straight, inconspicuous sex brands.
Plus the females of both species are plain orange and the under-wings of both sexes are very similar.

So for me this is certainly not an easy task unless any individual is perched with its wings open and even then you may need a magnifying glass or a good view of the underside of the antennae through close focusing binoculars, which I don't yet posses. So wherever possible I often resort to grabbing a shot or two to review on the laptop later but even this approach doesn't always provide conclusive evidence.

The first three images are all of a male Small Skipper (Thymelicus sylvestris).


My identification of the next image, based on the underside colour of the antennae, is a female Small Skipper.


And finally just by way of comparison the last, somewhat grainy image is a male Essex Skipper (Thymelicus lineola) with a small, straight sex brand on the wing.

Both species should still be on the wing during August and I'm sure I'll have a few more tricky encounters to unravel their true identities!

Linking to:

Friday, 31 July 2015

Friday Flutters.

With the prospect of a little more sunshine and much reduced winds I decided to carry out my weekly transect recording session on Ashtead Common late this morning but by the time I arrived on site the clouds had already started to drift over and the temperature dropped dramatically.

Since the rides were mowed just over two weeks ago the number of recorded sightings of any Skipper species has dropped dramatically. Today I logged just one, probably a female Small Skipper, hanging on to a swaying stem of dried grass.


The sun made an occasional reappearance enabling me to snap this nectaring Ringlet (above) while overhead a juvenile Great Spotted Woodpecker (below) made a noisy appearance before promptly flying away.


During an hour and a half I recorded 10 species and a total of 44 individual butterflies including Small Skipper (1), Brimstone (5), Large White (4), Small White (1), Holly Blue (1), Red Admiral (1), Speckled Wood (5), Gatekeeper (13), Meadow Brown (7) and Ringlet (6).

One of the most conspicuous species today was the Brimstone (Gonepteryx rhamni) with several sulphur-yellow males feeding on thistles, their favourite nectar source.


Linking to: 

Thursday, 30 July 2015

Walking the Chalk.

With a definite lack of warmth and sunshine to undertake my local butterfly transect this morning I decided to drive over to a favourite spot on the North Downs and slowly descended the chalk hillside in search of a particular silvery-blue butterfly.

It didn't take long for me to find a male Chalkhill Blue (Lysandra coridon) perched on the abundant wild thyme but typically with its wings closed as the sun had disappeared. However it wasn't too long before I was allowed a glimpse of its characteristic colourful upper wings. 







When the sun eventually poked through the heavy cloud layer there were Chalkhill Blues fluttering everywhere and occasionally one would sun itself on the pathway in front of my feet.




 

So with mission accomplished and more cloud drifting overhead it was time to gather some strength and ascend that slope. 


Linking to Good Fences hosted by TexWisGirl.

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