Wednesday 24 July 2013

The Bleak Down Graylings.

Today's visit to Bleak Down close to the village of Godshill  was to see the Grayling. This butterfly is a good example of 'cryptic camouflage', as when at rest on the ground the underside blends perfectly with the background.The Grayling lives in rather compact colonies and a walk across a section of the Down will throw up these fast flying butterflies.The female is larger than the male and more brightly marked.Taking a close look in the heather or grass one can find the female carefully laying one egg at a time on a blade of grass or on a heather flower stalk.


Sunday 21 July 2013

On the Lookout for Valezina in Walters Copse.

I have to go back to the 1970's to recall my last sight of the valezina form of the Silver-washed Fritillary.This rather beautiful form is found mainly in central and southern England and occurs in up to 15% of the females.There was no shortage of the usual coloured Silver-washed Fritillaries in Walters Copse today together with plenty of White Admirals.Making my way to where I understand the valezina has been sighted in the Copse recently I came across an individual high up on a bramble bush.After observing it for some time nectaring on the flowers it suddenly flew off pursued by a male.Somewhat farther on and in a sunny spot of oak trees fronted by brambles I was treated to a mating pair of Silver-washed not too high up in the tree.I was very pleased to see that the female was a valezina.They remained locked together on an oak leaf and to my amazement another valezina appeared close by and started to enjoy the bramble flowers.Two in one day,a very lucky day.

Thursday 18 July 2013

A Hot Afternoon in Firestone Copse.

On a hot afternoon the partial shade of the woodland glades in Firestone Copse was welcome today.Almost immediately along the first track,I was passed by a string of Silver-washed Fritillaries and one of my encounters here was with a female Silver-washed looking for a shady spot to lay her eggs.They tend to choose the base of a tree trunk and this one fluttered into the dark to lay on several trees.This was mixed with feeding on convenient bramble flowers and resting in the dappled sunlight
White Admirals were also plentiful and found particularly on bramble flowers and any damp spot on the ground where they could obtain moisture.Meadows Browns and Ringlets were very numerous.


Tuesday 16 July 2013

Chalk-hill Blues Out and About.

After several visits to West High Down to see the first Chalk-hill Blues today I sighted three fresh males on the bridleway to the Down.I could find none on the Down as yet but I am sure in a few days many will be flying all over it.Dark Green Fritillaries are showing very well now in this prolonged spell of hot sunny weather.

Monday 15 July 2013

The Silver-washed Fritillary in Walters Copse.

At Walters Copse,Newtown,the Silver-washed Fritillary is now enjoying the hot summer weather and can be seen all over the wood.Together with the White Admiral they visit bramble flowers along the dappled woodland rides.The Silver-washed is a powerful flier and can disappear as quickly as it appears heading off at great speed through the trees.However sometimes they can be captured,as in the following photos,firstly a courting couple on bramble and secondly a mating pair in the tree tops.

Thursday 11 July 2013

The Elegant White Admiral

The elegant White Admiral  is now on the wing in our woodlands.At Walters Copse,Newtown,today as the summer sun shone through the trees and along the rides this lovely butterfly could be seen gliding in and out of shade.Accompanying the White Admiral now is the Silver-washed Fritillary,another woodland butterfly.

Sunday 7 July 2013

The Dark Green Fritillary on West High Down

On West High Down today in glorious summer weather and a first sighting of the Dark Green Fritillary This butterfly is a powerful flier and I had numerous glimpses of it as it flew over the Down.Luckily for me,if not this particular individual, I found a Dark Green on the ground unable to fly due to deformity.A favourite flower of this fritillary is thistle and it can be found in abundance all over the Down.

Saturday 6 July 2013

Newtown Meadows

Thanks to a good friend I was directed to Newtown Meadows,a collection of fields owned by the National Trust.These are full of wild flowers and a magnet for butterflies.It was not long before I came upon several Marbled Whites,my first of the season feeding on thistles and bramble flowers.They were also accompanied by Meadow Browns now out in ever increasing numbers.
Also on the giant thistle was a Painted Lady regularly taking time to find new growing  thistle plants to lay her eggs on.


Also first Ringlet sighting of the year.

Wednesday 3 July 2013

Butterflies on West High Down.

It will not be long now before the Chalk-hill Blues appear en masse on West High Down together with the Dark Green Fritillary.The second week in July is normally the time to see the first emergent however this may be affected by the lateness of the season this year.
Approaching the Down today via the usual bridleway and the first butterfly seen was a Painted Lady busily feeding on dandelions and if I am not mistaken egglaying on giant thistles.It was not long before sightings of Speckled Wood, a Small Tortoiseshell,a Red Admiral,and several Dingy and Grizzled Skippers followed.
Once in the open space of the Down a good number of fresh looking Meadow Browns were evident along with both Skippers mentioned earlier,Large Skippers,Small Heath,Common Blue, and a rather worn Green Hairstreak.