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.