Saturday 28 April 2012

The Glanville Fritillary at Wheelers Bay

I have mentioned Wheelers Bay several times in recent blog entries when refering to the Glanville Fritillary on the Isle of Wight.With its south facing aspect and protected to the north by sheer chalk cliffs,Wheelers Bay enjoys a very mild situation.
A few years ago the coastal defences were vastly improved here and an area created between  the coastal path and the base of the cliff.This area was quickly colonised by plants and became an ideal habitat for the Glanville.Around this time a stretch of the coast at Bonchurch, which maintained a colony of Glanvilles was in imminent danger of disappearing into the sea due to erosion.Therefore chrysalides were collected there and transferred to Wheelers Bay.A thriving colony was quickly formed with several hundred butterflies on the wing.However in recent years this figure has gone down mainly due to some of the habitat becoming overgrown.Nevertheless there is still a healthy population here.
Many other species of butterfly are to be seen at the Bay,one of which at this time is the beautiful Orange Tip.The following photos are of a female enjoying a sheltered sunny spot in one of the Bays private back gardens.
Here and throughout Ventnor one can also find the Wall Lizard.It is a very handsome creature particularly the adult.

Wednesday 25 April 2012

Still waiting for the Glanvilles.

The weather over the last week or so has been very changeable on the Isle of Wight.Although there have been sunny spells we have had a lot of rain and wind recently.This must be detrimental to the early appearance of the Glanville Fritillary and a visit yesterday to Wheelers Bay,Ventnor in search of the butterfly on the wing was unsuccessful.However I did notice that their caterpillars were on the move.Here at Wheelers Bay many Glanville chrysalides are found under the chalk boulders and stones at the base of the cliff.
Earlier on Bonchurch Down I came upon a male Wall and a Small Heath.The latter is my first sighting this year of this species. It was always one step ahead of me a good photograph proved too difficult to achieve on this occasion

Monday 23 April 2012

More Small Blues

A brief visit yesterday to Afton Down before the weather  turned wet and a first sight of a female Small Blue and also a male.At this location the appearance of this butterfly has been extraordinarily early this year with my initial sighting on the 30th March a national record for this species.Grizzled Skippers and Green Hairstreaks are already there in good numbers and hopefully very soon they will be joined by the Dingy Skipper.
Another first for 2012 was a female Wall Brown at the chalkpit.

Saturday 21 April 2012

Waiting for the Glanvilles

The Glanville Fritillary is now expected to be on the wing in the next few days on the Isle of Wight.
At Wheelers Bay which is sandwiched  between Ventnor and the village of Bonchurch the first sighting of this butterfly is always made here.The Bay is south facing and enjoys a very unique climate.Yesterdays visit did not produce any sightings of the Glanville,however I did see a male Orange Tip at the base of the chalk cliffs that mainly enclose the Bay.
Overlooking Bonchurch Village is Bonchurch Down,well known for the Adonis Blue butterfly.This butterfly too is soon due to emerge.At present there are several Small Coppers to be seen on the Down and the odd Wall Brown. 


Monday 16 April 2012

Yet More Spring Butterflies

With such an array of butterflies to be seen at Afton Down  Chalkpit I returned there this morning.The weather was sunny and warm as this site can be a sun trap.Immediately I saw three Dingy Skipper and it wasn't long before two Wall butterflies were flying around.One female,perhaps the same individual as seen here yesterday  and a male.Several Green Hairstreaks and Grizzled Skippers are on view along with an as yet single Small Copper.I was very pleased to see a male Small Blue as I have not seen this species since my initial sighting on the 30th March.


Friday 13 April 2012

Small Copper-first sighting this year

A return visit  to Afton Down Chalkpit and my first sighting this year of a Small Copper.Grizzled Skippers and Green Hairstreaks are already there in good numbers and hopefully very soon they will be joined by the Dingy Skipper.Another first for 2012 was a female Wall Brown at the chalkpit.

Saturday 7 April 2012

More Spring Butterflies

The Whiteways Quarry Carpark at Freshwater,locally known  as Afton Down Chalkpit  is National Trust land and looks out  over the English Channel to the southwest.Looking right from the carpark and one is fortunate enough to see Tennyson Down  with its white cliffs.To the left and the veiw is southward down the Island coast towards Compton Bay and Glanville Fritillary habitat.
Here at back of the carpark, at the foot of East Afton Down and Compton Down is the ideal habitat for several chalkland butterflies.On the 30th March Small Blues were seen here a full month ahead of their usual flight time and yesterday the 6th April I was pleased to see a Grizzled Skipper and a Green Hairstreak at this spot.Hopefully another chalkland species the Dingy Skipper will soon be seen here.

Back to Walters Copse

Since my sighting of the Large Tortoiseshell at Walters Copse on the 27th March,I have made several return visits to this well managed National Trust woodland.
However I have not been fortunate enough to see the Large Toetoiseshell again but there have been at least two recorded sightings here in the last two weeks.As a result of the photographs taken it is certain that there is more than one individual to be seen.
Yesterday the weather remained sunny albeit somewhat cooler than of late and as a result no butterflies were to be seen in the copse until after noon.My first sighting of the day was my first sight also this year of the male Orange Tip.A beautiful butterfly of white and bright orange,it nervously visited the spring flowers in the open rides but when it rested among the dense shrubbery it became easier to approach.

Monday 2 April 2012

A Dash of Blue

The sight of a dash of blue in the spring and it is the Holly Blue.The male Holly Blue is usually seen  travelling at great speed and generally at a great height through woodland rides,parks and across country.I spotted this one at Walters Copse.Should you be fortunate enough to see it at close quarters one would notice that the underside is a light blue and the upper side a lilac-blue with fine black markings to its upper wing tips