Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Spring butterflies on the North Downs

It is a gorgeous day today, sunny and warm with light breezes. I spent about three hours this morning up on the North Downs, in search of butterflies. Not sure where the Small Blues have got to, and I had no luck with Green Hairstreaks either, but apart from that everything was present and correct. I walked back and forth across the hillside about three times, and along the lane below once, at a very slow pace, managed not to twist any ankles on the steep bits, and took about 500 photos with the D700 & BigMac.

It was actually very quiet when I arrived, though the sun had reached most of the hillside, and I worried that I'd see no butterflies at all. This scorpionfly was by the mini-copse of shrubs at the far end where I have previously (but not today) seen Green Hairstreaks.

More insect action nearby caught my eye - a mean-as-hell-looking robber fly clutching its hoverfly prey.

No Adders today but I did find this Grass Snake, resting on top of a bit of refugia that was underneath another (bigger) bit.

Also found two Slow-worms (not together).

As things warmed up, both Grizzled and Dingy Skippers began to appear. I had trouble getting close and was mildly cursing my decision to bring the D700 rather than the D300, but with patience I managed to sneak up on some of them.

This was the most obliging Dingy, though not the most nicely marked one I saw.

I saw a few day-flying moths, including several Mint Moths, a gorgeous Small Purple-barred and a lovely Burnet Companion, but couldn't get good pics of them. Instead here's... whatever this is. I doubt it's IDable from this pic but its superhero-esque pose amused me.

A flower that I can ID - Germander Speedwell.

And another that I can't. This purple thing was tiny, no more than 5cm tall.

My walk down the path beside the reserve produced a treat - a pristine new Large Skipper male, which was stuffing itself on Birds' Foot Trefoil nectar and unconcerned by my shoving a camera in its face.

At the same place I had a go at photographing this Dronefly - the pic's a massive crop but I'm pleased with the sharpness.

Small Heaths are usually really tricky to get close to but I was very lucky with these two.

Common Blues started to appear after I'd been on site for an hour and a half. They are obviously not early risers.

Last species of the day (oh, there was also a female Brimstone or two around) was this tatty but still cute Small Copper.

1 comment:

Warren Baker said...

Not seen any skippers this year yet Marianne. Never seen Dingy or Grizzled Skipper full stop!