Wednesday, 21 August 2019

Brownies On Display at Shipton.

The Brown Hairstreak has been somewhat of an enigma to me over the last three years.Several visits to a renowned area for the species have resulted in no sightings but yesterday's trip gave me success at last.The hedgerows around the village of Shipton Bellinger on the Hampshire-Wiltshire border are perfect habitat for the Brown Hairstreak. They require a copious amount of Blackthorn as it is their larval food plant and the male butterflies spend a lot of time at the top of Ash trees feeding on the  honeydew.
The first sighting of the day was a female 'brownie' fluttering low down along the edge of  blackthorn rich hedgerow.She would occasionally stop to enjoy the warmth of the sun and then get back to laying her eggs on the young blackthorn shoots,just a few inches from the ground. It was while observing her that a male was noticed ardently feeding  on blackberry fruits.The sightings of the day were not over as later another female was recorded,also looking for suitable egg laying spots.  



Wednesday, 7 August 2019

On Mottistone Down.

Today's visit to Mottistone Down in search of downland butterflies was somewhat marred by a very brisk wind.Still,the sun was shining and at this time of the year temperatures are pleasant.Luckily there are sunny sheltered spots where butterflies seem to congregate and a good number of Chalk-hill Blue,Common Blue,Brown Argus,Gatekeeper,Meadow Brown,and Wall Brown were seen.Inevitably several Painted Lady were also in evidence. However, in order to see one particular butterfly species I had to search the part of the Down known as the Common. This is the exposed open area of the Down consisiting of bracken and heather.Here the Grayling prefers to stay and is normally found on any bare patches of ground of chalk or old heather. 
Mottistone Down looks out over the Isle of Wights' south-west coast.The Down is a Site of Scientific Interest covering 78 acres and most of the area is owned by the National Trust.It is biologically important due to its chalk and neutral grasslands.

Saturday, 3 August 2019

Painted Lady Invasion Pays Dividends.

I could not ignore the well publicised influx of Painted Ladies to our shores since May.Now at the start of August, many newly emerged offspring are gracing our gardens and countryside with at least one sighting of this beautiful butterfly every time one is out and about.With the buddleia in full bloom it is a magnet for Painted Ladies as well as other summer species.The plant in our garden has attracted at least four Painted Ladies at any one time since yesterday, along with Red Admiral,Comma,and Peacock.

Saturday, 13 July 2019

A Good Time for the Skippers.

The summer species are now at their most prolific and the Small Skipper is no exception.The first image below shows a female  while the other photos are of a male.Arguably the best way to tell the Small from the Essex Skipper are the tips of the antennae,rounded and all black for the latter while they are more pointed and mainly brown in the Small Skipper.

Tuesday, 2 July 2019

Along Flowery Woodland Rides.

Yesterday in Bouldnor Forest there were times when the rides seemed to come alive with butterflies.Especially so when walking through a mass of wild flowers as summer butterflies flitted all around.Abundant was the Silver-washed Fritillary nectaring on bramble flower, so to White Admiral.In the long grass the Small Skipper is now numerous and Marbled White numbers are increasing rapidly.One or two Gatekeepers are also to be seen with legions of Meadow Brown and Ringlet.
In the forest are Dark-green Fritillary which seem to particularly common this year.Find a giant thistle and it will not be long before this butterfly stops by.


Wednesday, 26 June 2019

White-letter Hairstreaks Back at Towngate.

A visit to the elm tree at Towngate in Newport on the 24th June discovered several male White-letter Hairstreaks high in the branches.Today a prolonged watch resulted in a probable male nectaring on cow parsley and at least one female laying eggs on the lower branches of this disease-resistant elm.

Summer Butterflies on the Wing.

A long overdue visit to Walters Copse at Newtown today was rewarded with a bevy of summer butterflies.At least six Silver-washed Fritillaries,all males,good numbers of Marbled White,two White Admirals,and a rather worn Painted Lady.The latter no doubt,one of many to reach our shores this week from the south.

Saturday, 22 June 2019

Still Waiting for the Summer Butterflies.

I was hopeful of seeing more summer butterflies at Bouldnor Forest yesterday,but as the weather has been so changeable throughout June I was to be disappointed.Still, a first of the year Ringlet was recorded together with many Meadow Brown.The same Dark Green Fritillary was noted in the  flowery glade of a few days ago and it cannot be but a matter of days until the other summer butterflies are on the wing.

Monday, 17 June 2019

First of the Summer Butterflies?

What I consider to be a summer butterfly was on show today in Bouldnor Forest,Yarmouth.Although this species is commonly found on our Island downland it is also a butterfly of flowery woodland rides and this is where this individual was seen nectaring on clover.

Friday, 14 June 2019

Friends Together.

Most 'blue' butterflies have an association with ants when in their caterpillar stage.The Common Blue is no exception although other blue's may have a much closer arrangement with certain types of ants.The larvae of  P. icarus are attended by the ants and sometimes taken into the anthill where they emit honeydew.This behaviour is called mutualistic as both species benefit from these actions.

Saturday, 1 June 2019

Very Small and Very Fast.

This diminutive skipper was seen in the garden of our holiday accommodation on Meganisi.Its flight was fast and sometimes difficult to track.The butterfly is the Lulworth Skipper Thymelicus acteon the smallest of our 'golden skippers'. The English name of course refers to the only location in the UK where this species is found. 

Friday, 31 May 2019

The Foxy Emperor.

The title is of course the common name for the magnificent Two-tailed Pasha.I feel it is always a privilege to encounter this beautiful butterfly and to date I can still count on the fingers of one hand the number of times this has happened.
Last week in Greece another of those wonderful moments occurred when my wife shouted to me that she had a butterfly on her head.She had just walked out of the pool and had felt it land.The natural reaction was to waft it away and that she did,but it was determined to get its sustenance and returned to nectar on the skin and a wet swimsuit.We finally managed to get the butterfly to take an interest in the dampness by the side of the pool where it happily stayed until it had had its fill.The Pasha then flew away into the olive grove.