Monday, 29 July 2019

Blacktoft Sands in Late July

On Wednesday Tony Robinson went to RSPB Blacktoft Sands and saw plenty of interesting birds.  The highlights are below.  if you want to keep abreast of the latest news from Blacktoft take a look at their blog
All Photos (c) 2019 Tony Robinson
Adult Spoonbill
 Marsh Harrier
A few days earlier Tony had a rather unusual beetle on his washing line.
Golden-bloomed Longhorn Beetle

Wednesday, 24 July 2019

Final Butterfly Special

Pyrausta purpuralis - shame it hasn't got an English name.
Edit: it doesn't have an English name in my books, but Maggie has found it is called the Mint Moth on the internet.
3 consecutive days at the Butterfly venue were basically similar, but each day had a particular character.  Monday was warm, but extremely windy. The butterflies were still good, but maybe not as plentiful as the previous week.  Tuesday was even warmer, but the butterflies were even less abundant apart from in the Butterfly Garden, which was the busiest I've ever seen it with insects.  Wednesday at first was still in the process of recovering from heavy overnight rain and thunderstorms, but by the end seemed warmer than any of the subsequent mornings.
6-Spot Burnet-Moth

 Gatekeeper - Monday
 Gatekeeper - Wednesday
Each day began with a visit to the Butterfly Garden before embarking on the walk through the woodland.  This was usually the best place to photograph Gatekeepers.  There were some Burnet-Moths here too.
Male Silver-Washed Fritillary - slightly damaged wing
 Silver-Washed Fritillary (c) 2019 Paul Green
2 Silver-Washed Fritillaries
 Underside of Female Silver-washed Fritillary 
 Female Silver-washed Fritillary
One of the major rides usually yielded fast flying Silver-Washed Fritillaries or gracefully gliding White Admirals over the bramble flowers.  On Wednesday the Fritillaries were noticeably late emerging after the rain, but they were seen eventually.  On Wednesday we hadn't been walking for long when Ben spotted a spiralling Hairstreak, as we watched we caught the bright orange colour of a Brown Hairstreak.  Unfortunately, we didn't see it land.  On Tuesday a former member photographed a White-Letter Hairstreak in the car park.  However, when she showed me her photograph it also proved to be a Brown Hairstreak.  That is the first one recorded this year at this location, as far as I'm aware.  On Tuesday one of the only photographs of note was the underside of a White Admiral, which stayed on the underside of a leaf for at least a quarter of an hour.  
White Admiral
 Underside of White Admiral
 Upperside of White Admiral (c) 2019 Paul Green
 Female Silver-washed Fritillary & White Admiral
White Admiral & Silver-Washed Fritillary (c) 2019 Margaret Richardson
 Silver-Washed Fritillaries (c) 2019 Margaret Richardson
 Silver-Washed Fritillary (c) 2019 Margaret Richardson
 Underside of White Admiral (c) 2019 Margaret Richardson
 White Admiral (c) 2019 Margaret Richardson

Wednesday was the quietest day from the human point of view, as most people assumed there wouldn't be that many butterflies which survived the heavy rain, so they kept away.  The advantage was that we had the large triangular crossroads to ourselves.  Ben spotted a Purple Emperor apparently taking off from the ground.  We stayed and waited. It was seen flying high around an Oak and a conifer several times before quickly disappearing.  I fired off several shots, but it was quite high, so the results weren't anything special.
Purple Emperor
We carried on at the major crossroads, but last year's hairstreaks didn't reappear! A dead mole on Wednesday was a surprise.  Every day a walk to the Elm twigs was a feature, but we attained a big fat zero of White-Letter Hairstreak sightings. Monday resulted in mating Silver-washed Fritillaries along the blackthorn hedge, and one eagle-eyed spouse of a class member identified a White Admiral from a long-distance away.  The far glade was very good on Monday with several sightings of Purple Hairstreaks leaving an Oak tree for an Ash sapling, and even a pair were seen mating in a hawthorn bush.  
Record shot of Purple Hairstreak
 Out-of-Focus Female Purple Hairstreak in flight
 Two Purple Hairstreaks
 Underside of Purple Hairstreak
Last week we saw a Purple Emperor on the ground near the exit, and last year we had a smart Brown Hairstreak here, so we were full of anticipation this week.  On Wednesday we had 3 things in this area.  One was a Purple Emperor flying around the tree tops, a second was a Southern Hawker dragonfly feeding on a Speckled Wood.  The third, and best may have been a slightly injured Purple Hairstreak which was in the same area.  We photographed it on the ground and on a leaf before Maggie placed it in a safe place.  
Last year's Brown Hairstreak (2 Aug)
Southern Hawker eating a Speckled Wood 
 The wings of a Speckled Wood fluttered to the ground

Male Purple Hairstreak
The return to the car park can often result in a last minute highlight.  On Monday it was an exquisite tiny purple moth - see blog header.  Tuesday resulted in a fast moving hairstreak, which failed to land anywhere, so its species could not be identified.  On Wednesday Maggie discovered a very late Broad Bordered Bee Hawk Moth on the buddleia right next to her car.
 Broad Bordered Bee Hawk Moth (c) 2019 Maggie Bruce

Overall the special Wednesday visit was a very successful morning despite the intense heat and the obnoxious Clegg flies!