Neil Hulme

This forum contains a topic per member, each representing a personal diary.
User avatar
Neil Hulme
Posts: 2624
Joined: Fri Feb 08, 2008 8:27 pm

Re: Sussex Kipper

Postby Neil Hulme » Mon Jul 05, 2010 9:06 am

Botany Bay - Thursday 1st July

It was one of those days when, in retrospect, I realised that I should have turned right instead of left! My day at Botany Bay was a bit of a 'grueller', but highly enjoyable nevertheless, particularly as it was nice to spend time with the likes of Vince, Steve Meredith and Dave Miller, in pursuit of The Purple One.

My moleskin trousers and old army boots again played host to His Majesty, who it seems will perch somewhere on my anatomy almost every day throughout the season. Kids - if your parents tell you to put your trousers in the wash during July ..... forget it! Hide them under the bed from mid June onwards.

The jungle drums beat loud at this time of the year, and it wasn't long before I heard that butterfly buddies Colin Knight and Richard Roebuck had 'filled their boots' with PEs at Southwater. Colin (http://colinknight.blogspot.com/) had seen 5 on the deck, and Richard sent me some gorgeous macro shots of the underside. It was only the previous day that I had watched Richard become thoroughly 'Purpled', and for like many of us, this was the start of a rapid descent into serious addiction. Vince had moved on to Southwater in the afternoon, bagging his lovely Small Tortoiseshell aberrant..... must have, must have! A BC Sussex member also sent me a photo of a fine, very dark Silver-washed Fritillary 'ab.'. It would be back to Southwater tomorrow.

User avatar
Neil Hulme
Posts: 2624
Joined: Fri Feb 08, 2008 8:27 pm

Re: Sussex Kipper

Postby Neil Hulme » Mon Jul 05, 2010 9:38 am

Black Magic At Southwater

On Friday (2nd July) I returned to Southwater Woods, where large numbers of eager Emperor-watchers were now amassing at the key points in the wood. Various observers saw at least 5 males coming down, with some 'fresh out of the shell' that morning. Aerial activity was now increasing at the Madgelands Master Trees, with spectacular dogfights breaking out periodically.

The number of dark-coloured aberrant White Admirals, Commas and Silver-washed Fritillaries looks to surpass even last year's spectacular showing - it is only a matter of time before a dark Emperor appears. Having seen numerous WA ab. obliterae and the odd ab. nigrina, I was keen to get a good image of the latter. As the crowds thinned, and I was left talking to a nice couple, a perfect nigrina descended to my Mam Tom 'soup' bait - top and underside nailed at last!

UKB nigrina, Southwater 2.7.10.jpg
UKB nigrina underside, Southwater 2.7.10.jpg

Andrew Burns, Paul Day and I then went in search of Small Tortoiseshell ab. vincent-van-massimoii (it does look close to nigra), with some success! I'm sure that UKBers Mark and Lee (nice to see you both) saw the same odd-looking beast.

UKB Small Tortoiseshell cf. ab. nigra, Southwater 2.7.10.jpg
UKB Small Tortoiseshell cf. ab. nigra underside, Southwater 2.7.10.jpg

User avatar
Neil Hulme
Posts: 2624
Joined: Fri Feb 08, 2008 8:27 pm

Re: Sussex Kipper

Postby Neil Hulme » Mon Jul 05, 2010 10:28 am

A Game Of Two Halves

On Saturday morning (3rd July) all of my energies were directed at ensuring that others were entertained by the Purple Emperor. I led a BC party of 30 across Southwater Woods, where we saw everything on our wish-list. At one point an Emperor made a vicious attack on one of our party, flying into his blue T-shirt repeatedly, in an apparent attempt to knock him to the ground. We saw 'Black Admirals', an aberrant Comma and a mating pair of Silver-washed Fritillaries. Rather than retire to a secluded tree-top, to conduct his nuptial rights in privacy, this SWF male just dragged his partner from bramble blossom to bramble blossom, while continuing his drinking session - scandalous behaviour! Nice to see UKBers Roger and Rose 'on tour' here - thanks for the cuppa in your mobile palace.

By prior arrangement we met up with BC Chief Executive Dr Martin Warren, Chairman Maurice Avent, Head Fundraiser David Bridges and guests, who I'm pleased to say were also highly successful in their wished-for encounters with the Purple Emperor.

I really enjoy the social side of butterflying, and particularly the look on people's faces after their first 'purple encounter', but occasionally it's nice to escape the crowds and find the solitude that invariably leads to the best photo opportunities. I departed for Botany Bay, where I knew the rides would be deserted after the morning rush. I saw 7 different males on the deck, which obligingly opened up for my first decent 'purple shots' of the season. Happy days!

UKB PE Botany Bay 3.7.10.jpg
UKB PE Botany Bay 3.7.10 (2).jpg
UKB Botany Bay.jpg
Last edited by Neil Hulme on Sat Jan 19, 2013 7:43 am, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
Vince Massimo
Administrator & Stock Contributor
Administrator & Stock Contributor
Posts: 1448
Joined: Sat Aug 16, 2008 7:36 pm
Location: Crawley, Sussex

Re: Sussex Kipper

Postby Vince Massimo » Mon Jul 05, 2010 11:23 am

That's brilliant Neil, I'm so pleased you managed to catch up with the Small Tortoiseshell (you even got an underside, which I missed). Was it in the same place?

Vince

User avatar
Neil Hulme
Posts: 2624
Joined: Fri Feb 08, 2008 8:27 pm

Re: Sussex Kipper

Postby Neil Hulme » Mon Jul 05, 2010 12:19 pm

VIP Trip To See The Emperor

I sometimes get asked to arrange for special guests of BC to see special butterflies, but I've never felt more pressure (or should I say a desire to succeed) on behalf of others than on Sunday (4th July). I had promised Ellie Corrigan, aged 10 and already an accomplished natural historian, an up-close-and-personal encounter with a Purple Emperor, and I had better not let her down! Brother Tom (13 and three quarters) had also given up the chance to play tennis in order to join in the fun, along with Mum and Dad (Helen and Chris).

At Botany Bay we bumped into Malcolm Bridge and his BC Surrey Branch party, who I'm glad to say was successful in the hunt. It was a slow start for us - worryingly so! As the wind strength increased I knew that our chances were ebbing away. The Emperor doesn't like the strong gusts that catch his huge 'sail' and can turn him on his back as he paddles around on the ride floor, in search of salty delicacies. We had seen one nearly alight, but the job was far from done.

As we started a slow return to the cars, we had some luck. I noticed a Silver-washed Fritillary and a White Admiral both hesitate several times, above something high up in a hazel. With binoculars I could just make out the wing-tips of an Emperor. A little patience, and a dab of something fragrant, soon saw the pristine male on the ground for nearly an hour. Several other couples/families were in the right place at the right time and I was delighted that other youngsters were able to share this magical moment.

UKB Corrigans PE.jpg
UKB PE Botany Bay 4.7.10.jpg

The Emperor spent some time in the stream-bed nearby, taking a drink alongside Silver-washed Fritillaries and White Admirals. Close examination of my full-sized image shows the mud to be covered in tiny butterfly footprints and proboscis trails, where numerous insects have dropped into this hostelry over the past few weeks.

UKB PE Botany Bay stream bed, 4.7.10.jpg

Soon after the Happy Corrigans departed, I was walking back along the ride when I heard that characteristic 'clicking' of wings. He landed on my right shoulder, just for a second, then was off into the woods. We both knew it was 'mission accomplished'. :D

User avatar
Neil Hulme
Posts: 2624
Joined: Fri Feb 08, 2008 8:27 pm

Re: Sussex Kipper

Postby Neil Hulme » Wed Jul 07, 2010 6:27 pm

More Abs Than 5ive

If you don't 'get' the title, don't ask :oops: ! Never have I seen so many aberrant forms as I have this year - and I thought last summer was good! Congratulations to Matthew Oates and Paul Kipling on 'bagging' the gorgeous Purple Emperor ab. lugenda :mrgreen:, and to 'our Susie' and Colin Knight on their Silver-washed Fritillary bilateral gynandromorph - how good can it get? Southwater Woods are still packed with dark, aberrant Admirals and Fritillaries.

I'm still racking up a few of my own. Here's a ringless Ringlet ab. arete I saw while out walking with Hannah .....

UKB Ringlet ab. arete, Devils Jumps 6.7.10.jpg

and a Silver-washed Fritillary ab. confluens that Susie led me to (many thanks!).

UKB Silver-washed Fritillary ab. confluens, Southwater 7.7.10.jpg

In these exciting times it would be a shame if we were to totally overlook the subtle beauty of our commoner species, such as the Gatekeeper, which is now on the wing here.

UKB Gatekeeper, Southwater 7.7.10.jpg
UKB Gatekeeper, Southwater 5.7.10.jpg

User avatar
Neil Hulme
Posts: 2624
Joined: Fri Feb 08, 2008 8:27 pm

Re: Sussex Kipper

Postby Neil Hulme » Sat Jul 10, 2010 9:02 pm

White Letter Day

Last Thursday afternoon (8th July) I followed up a lead from fellow enthusiast Bob Eade, who put me onto a site where White-letter Hairstreaks had been visiting a conveniently located bramble patch, near Alfriston in East Sussex. This part of the county falls within the Dutch Elm Disease Control Area, so thankfully is still home to a large number of these much-missed trees. White-letters occur widely throughout this landscape, but getting them down from their lofty perches to smile for the camera can be tricky - it's a species I've struggled to photograph in the past. Luckily it was one of those days when everything just seemed to go to plan, and it wasn't long before slightly tatty males were joined by some rather gorgeous female butterflies. Once they get their faces stuck in a nice fresh blossom.... they're 'anybody's'!

UKB W-l H 1, Litlington, 8.7.10.jpg
UKB W-l H 2, Litlington 8.7.10.jpg
UKB W-l H 3, Litlington 8.7.10.jpg

After getting the shots I was after, I noticed the most monstrous great fly, sitting on a bramble leaf. It was a particularly large specimen of the giant horsefly Tabanus sudeticus (Europe's heaviest dipteran), and it made a hornet look small!

UKB Tabanus sudeticus.jpg

Earlier that day I'd made another visit to Southwater Woods, hoping to see Susie's 'abs' :D . My father and I met up with Vince and Mark Bunch from Essex, who makes regular visits to sunny Sussex. We didn't see the Silver-washed Fritillary aberrants, but my father's trousers were visited by a knackered old Purple chap with one leg. Vince did the honours with the camera as the 'old soldier' then crash-landed in a nearby hazel.

UKB Knackered Old Chap.jpg

Dark-coloured White Admirals continued to appear with some regularity,

UKB White Admiral obliterae, Southwater 8.7.10.jpg

and we took an enjoyable stroll through the beautiful meadows, where the first summer brood Peacocks were busy nectaring - a snapshot of how England should look!

UKB - How England Should Look.jpg

User avatar
Neil Hulme
Posts: 2624
Joined: Fri Feb 08, 2008 8:27 pm

Re: Sussex Kipper

Postby Neil Hulme » Sun Jul 11, 2010 12:53 pm

Emperors At Peak

Last Friday (9th July) I started the day with a visit to Botany Bay, which I suspected would be the last chance to see Emperors in good condition 'on the deck'. Although it will still be possible to see males descending to the rides for some time, the number of close encounters is definitely beginning to tail off now. I met Bob Eade, Peter Farrant and Keith Capon - and four male Emperors. All came down, some perched 'just too high up' in oaks, and another visited a sap run. One specimen was still in pristine livery, but the 'all Purple' shot I was just about to get was scuppered by a pesky cleg, which bit me at the critical moment.

UKB PE on track, Botany Bay 9.7.10.jpg
UKB, PE in oak, Botany Bay 9.7.10.jpg
UKB PE on sap run, Botany Bay 9.7.10.jpg

Then it was off to Southwater Woods to meet up with Matthew Oates. Unfortunately time is just too tight this Emperor season (precluding even my pilgrimage to Fermyn), and I was sad to have missed Derek Longhurst (webmaster of the Purple Empire), who had just headed off to the New Forest.

Having had the benefit of the morning session here, Matthew's count of male PEs went well past 20 for the day, and in the late afternoon sunshine we watched Emperors in some far-flung and seldom visited parts of the wood. At 6.30 pm they were still doing battle with bundles of Purple Hairstreaks, with frenetic action above the Marlpost car park assembly area.

User avatar
Neil Hulme
Posts: 2624
Joined: Fri Feb 08, 2008 8:27 pm

Re: Sussex Kipper

Postby Neil Hulme » Sun Jul 11, 2010 1:08 pm

BC Field Trip - Saturday 10th July

Many thanks to the tough expeditionary force of 14 that joined me for the lengthy BC walk up the steep face of Heyshott Down, and then along to Graffham and back on Saturday. Given the terrain and energy-sapping heat, this was not a walk for the faint-hearted. However, it attracted a good number of individuals that are actively involved in 'hands-on' aspects of butterfly conservation, including members of both the Murray and Graffham Downland Trusts, and volunteer surveyors. It was also one of the most enjoyable walks I've ever led - no pain, no gain!

The views along this beautiful stretch of the Downs were stunning, from start to finish, and the butterflies did not disappoint us. We saw Small Skipper, Large Skipper, Brimstone, Large White, Small White, Green-veined White, Small Copper, Small Tortoiseshell, Red Admiral, Comma, Silver-washed Fritillary, Speckled Wood, Gatekeeper, Marbled White, Meadow Brown, Ringlet and Small Heath. On Heyshott Escarpment we stopped to look at the characteristic feeding damage caused by Duke of Burgundy caterpillars, and spent some time discussing recent achievements in the conservation of this species here.

But the stars of the show were of course the high-altitude Purple Emperors of Graffham Down. The first sighting was of a large female, which soon disappeared as she was clearly on a furtive egg-laying run. The male assembly point here is 728' amsl, and we watched a total of 4, constantly doing battle across their territory. Several times we watched a pair of males indulging in a dogfight worthy of 'The Blue Max', tailing each other to heights in excess of 100' above the very crest of the Down, silhouetted against a crystal clear, azure sky. For me this is the very pinnacle of butterfly-watching - pure butterflying ambrosia!

UKB Heyshott Down panorama.jpg

User avatar
Neil Hulme
Posts: 2624
Joined: Fri Feb 08, 2008 8:27 pm

Re: Sussex Kipper

Postby Neil Hulme » Tue Jul 13, 2010 7:11 pm

Downland Beauties - And Strange Goings On In The Back Of A Horsebox

On Sunday (11th July) I took a short break from the tedium of writing articles for the BC Branch newsletter and Annual Report (apologies to members... I do enjoy this in the winter months), and headed up onto the Downs behind Storrington. It was very obvious how drought conditions have suppressed the chalk grassland flora this year. The banks that are usually a riot of blues and purples in high summer, looked sparse and rather subdued. However, the butterflies were there in good numbers, including freshly-emerged Chalkhill Blues and second brood Brown Argus. I just love mint-conditioned CBs!

UKB Chalkhill Blue, Springhead 11.7.10.jpg
UKB Brown Argus, Springhead 11.7.10.jpg

It was then I heard the call "coooeee, are you the butterfly man?" (I have a number of conservation projects on the go up here, so am part of the furniture). A Purple Emperor was fluttering around a horse's bottom, as he stood in his box. I thought to myself 'patience is a virtue', as it was pretty obvious what the butterfly expected. I later saw another male launch itself at a Wood Pigeon, as it flew low over the canopy of ash. This is another of the unusual, high altitude iris colonies of West Sussex, at 558' amsl.

User avatar
Neil Hulme
Posts: 2624
Joined: Fri Feb 08, 2008 8:27 pm

Re: Sussex Kipper

Postby Neil Hulme » Thu Jul 15, 2010 9:42 pm

Roadside Butterflies

At this time of year the camera is always in the car so, when 'nature calls', even the briefest stop beside a flowery road verge can turn into a photoshoot. This lovely, fresh Brown Argus struck a number of poses as it fidgeted in response to the rapidly alternating cloudy/sunny conditions.

UKB Brown Argus 1 15.7.10.jpg
UKB Brown Argus 2 15.7.10.jpg
UKB Brown Argus 3 15.7.10.jpg
UKB Brown Argus 4 15.7.10.jpg

User avatar
Neil Hulme
Posts: 2624
Joined: Fri Feb 08, 2008 8:27 pm

Re: Sussex Kipper

Postby Neil Hulme » Sun Jul 18, 2010 11:18 pm

Chalkhill Roost

On Saturday (17th July) I managed to escape from the inconvenience of weekend work, if only for just over an hour. The period 7-8 pm might seem a little late to go butterfly-watching, but it's perfect for enjoying the spectacle of Chalkhill Blues going to roost. As soon as I stepped into the meadow I could see dozens of beautiful, powder blue males hanging face-down amongst the long grasses. A more thorough search revealed a few freshly-emerged females, together with the odd Brown Argus and Common Blue. By the time I departed, and the shadows had reached across the field, just a scattering of pale triangles was visible. If it wasn't for the fact that I had to be elsewhere the next morning, I would have returned early, to watch them all open up again.

UKB Chalkhill 1 Springhead 17.7.10.jpg
UKB Chalkhill 2 Springhead 17.7.10.jpg
UKB Chalkhill 3 Springhead 17.7.10.jpg

User avatar
Neil Hulme
Posts: 2624
Joined: Fri Feb 08, 2008 8:27 pm

Re: Sussex Kipper

Postby Neil Hulme » Tue Jul 20, 2010 1:49 pm

Purple Season Curtailed

On Sunday (18th July) I joined BC Sussex committee members Michael Blencowe and Tom Ottley to survey a private wood, hoping to determine whether the Purple Emperor occurs here. It seems not, although our chances of seeing them were severely curtailed (as they are elsewhere) by the big 'knock-down' of the species during the mid July gales. Unsurprisingly for a large arboreal species, very high winds over several days spell disaster for the Emperor. If associated with heavy rain, as in July 2008 (6th/7th), all the worse! This year, the big 'knock-down' occurred after the last males would have emerged, marking a rapid tail-off to The Season.

A walk around this wood did, however, demonstrate that it is clearly at the top of the Premier Division for Purple Hairstreaks. By early evening the numbers swirling around the oak crowns were impressive to say the least! On several occasions, where oak branches draped low down, my head was literally in the middle of a mass 'bundle' of Hairstreaks - a great place to have your head on a beautiful, warm summer evening!

UKB PH female 18.7.10.jpg
Female Purple Hairstreak

UKB Mating Gatekeeper 18.7.10.jpg
Mating Gatekeepers

A late afternoon trip to meet my parents at Southwater Woods on Monday (19th July) confirmed the Purple Emperor situation (few males left), but it soon became apparent that Silver-washed Fritillary females are still emerging - and I almost immediately found a quite freshly-emerged obliterae White Admiral.

UKB obliterae Southwater 19.7.10.jpg
obliterae

User avatar
Neil Hulme
Posts: 2624
Joined: Fri Feb 08, 2008 8:27 pm

Re: Sussex Kipper

Postby Neil Hulme » Thu Jul 22, 2010 9:19 am

Cissbury Ring Roost - And The Skipper Dilemma

An evening walk around Cissbury Ring confirmed, beyond all doubt, that the Common Blue has made an excellent recovery this year, at least in Sussex, with huge numbers of second brood butterflies found in communal roosts. Almost every sheltered clump of longer grass was packed tightly with them. It's a few years since I've seen them in such abundance - a welcome sight.

UKB Common Blues, Cissbury 21.7.10.jpg

As I've noticed previously (and elsewhere), the Common Blues were snoozing away in different areas to the Chalkhill Blue, which tends to scatter itself more widely across areas of long grass and low scrub. However, the CBs were quite happy to share a bed with numerous Brown Argus and a few Skippers.

Some of these were Essex Skippers, so I took the opportunity to get some 'head-on' shots to illustrate the diagnostic features of the antennae. Differentiating Small and Essex Skippers causes problems every season, but the 'antennae rules' are really quite straightforward. Other methods, such as the length, strength and angle of the sex brand (which of course only applies to the males), and the degree of contrast/definition between the areas of orange and grey colouration near the tips of the forewing undersides, do work well. But I tend to think that these methods are perhaps too subtle and confusing for those that are agonising over the identification in the first place, based on the antennae. As Pete, Guy and others have mentioned previously, the colour of the upper surface (including the tips) of the antennae is irrelevant - they can be anywhere between pale brown and almost black in both. But the underside of the tips is a glossy black in Essex Skipper, and the age-old guide 'they look as if they have been pushed down onto a pad of black ink' holds good.

UKB Essex Skipper 1, Cissbury Ring 21.7.10.jpg
UKB Essex Skipper 2, Cissbury Ring 21.7.10.jpg

We've made quite an effort in the BC Sussex Branch to get people recording these species separately, as the grouping 'Small/Essex' might mask serious fluctuations in the population of particularly the Essex Skipper. Of course we don't expect our recorders to spend all day on their stomachs differentiating every specimen - but a definitive presence/absence on each site provides very useful data. Based on my own observations, on 'my patch', the Essex Skipper suffered an absolute 'stinker' of a season last year.

Susie
Posts: 3600
Joined: Wed Mar 19, 2008 6:34 pm

Re: Sussex Kipper

Postby Susie » Fri Jul 23, 2010 6:22 pm

On the local news this morning on GMTV they ran a short article about Butterfly Conservations and showed some photographs that reminded me an awful lot of your Queen of Spain Fritillary shots from last year, Neil. Were they? :D

User avatar
Neil Hulme
Posts: 2624
Joined: Fri Feb 08, 2008 8:27 pm

Re: Sussex Kipper

Postby Neil Hulme » Fri Jul 23, 2010 8:45 pm

Hi Susie,
Possibly, but I was probably watching Jeremy Kyle :wink: . BC HQ have a whole batch of my stuff from last year. They have a carte blanche to use them at will, so they occasionally crop up here and there - and perhaps on the GMTV sofa.
Neil

User avatar
Neil Hulme
Posts: 2624
Joined: Fri Feb 08, 2008 8:27 pm

Re: Sussex Kipper

Postby Neil Hulme » Sat Jul 24, 2010 8:03 am

Silver-spotted Skippers - 23rd July

A brief, early evening visit to Newtimber Hill, just inside the West/East Sussex border, soon produced my first Silver-spotted Skippers of the year. With thickening cloud and falling temperatures they were already shutting down for the night, burying themselves deep within the grasses. A decent mugshot would have to wait until another day. The only time that the camera came out of the bag was for this very pretty Common Blue female, which opened up to bask as weak sunshine momentarily broke through.

UKB Female Common Blue, 23.7.10.jpg

User avatar
Neil Hulme
Posts: 2624
Joined: Fri Feb 08, 2008 8:27 pm

Re: Sussex Kipper

Postby Neil Hulme » Sun Jul 25, 2010 4:42 pm

Late Summer On The East Sussex Downs

Yesterday (24th July) I headed over to my favourite part of East Sussex - the Downs around the beautiful Cuckmere Valley. First stop was Windover Hill, with the steep climb affording wonderful views back towards Firle Beacon. At this time of year the now sun-baked agricultural landscape of The Weald shimmers through the heat-haze.

UKB Firle Beacon.jpg
View towards Firle Beacon

On the chalk track towards the summit I encountered Chalkhill, Small and Common Blues, Brown Argus, Marbled White and a Dark Green Fritillary. But it was Grayling I was after, which sadly is a highly localised and far-from-common species in Sussex these days. I then descended into the valley behind Windover - Grayling country.

UKB Grayling country.jpg
Grayling country

It wasn't long before I encountered the first of these fascinating butterflies, sweeping powerfully across the slopes on V-held wings, searching tufts of grass, scrapes of bare earth and rabbit burrow entrances for virgin females. They have only recently started to emerge here, so out of the dozen I saw, only one was a female. This is Michael Blencowe's favourite butterfly; to the extent that not only has he adopted it as 'Species Champion' for the Branch - he runs an annual 'Sussex Grayling Festival'!

UKB Grayling male, Windover 24.7.10.jpg
Male Grayling

UKB Grayling female, Windover 24.7.10.jpg
UKB Grayling female 2, Windover 24.7.10.jpg
Female Grayling

I then moved a couple of miles to Frog Firle, descending into Cradle Valley - a real butterfly 'hotspot'. It wasn't long before I found my second target species of the day, the Silver-spotted Skipper - about 20 of them. Of these, a significant proportion were females, with the usual high speed pursuits, crash landings and abdomen-curling in evidence as the males 'tried it on' relentlessly.

UKB SSSk, Cradle Valley 24.7.10.jpg
UKB SSSk 2, Cradle Valley 24.7.10.jpg
UKB SSSk 3, Cradle Valley 24.7.10.jpg

For the third year running I watched some macabre goings-on here. The Hornet Robberfly (Asilus crabroniformis) was on the hunt for skippers, and I saw one successful kill. Predatory insects develop highly-tuned hunting skills, usually only attacking while their prey is off-guard. Wasps tend to ignore butterflies most of the time, but if they come across one ovipositing it often results in a lightening-fast attack. Hornet Robberflies would probably be no match for a SSSk in 'level flight', but a split-second of vulnerability arises when a skipper lands, and is unready for simultaneous take-off. It's now that the robberfly pounces, usually resulting in a near-miss, but occasionally leading to a gory end. The robberfly doesn't take long to drain all the juicy bits from the skipper. :cry:

Piers
Posts: 1076
Joined: Fri Jan 18, 2008 5:21 pm

Re: Sussex Kipper

Postby Piers » Sun Jul 25, 2010 5:15 pm

Sussex Kipper wrote:The Hornet Robberfly (Asilus crabroniformis) was on the hunt for skippers, and I saw one successful kill.

Go Asilius..!! Don't be such a wuss Neil, these are the most beautiful and awesome flies, and now fairly rare too (thanks to a significant degree to oral insecticides administered to grazing animals to prevent internal parasites). Spare us a Skipper, Kipper; for a hungry Robber Fly...
:D
Felix.

User avatar
Neil Hulme
Posts: 2624
Joined: Fri Feb 08, 2008 8:27 pm

Re: Sussex Kipper

Postby Neil Hulme » Sun Jul 25, 2010 5:33 pm

But Felix, they've got cute, fluffy 'teddy bear' faces and don't deserve to die :wink: ! You're right though, the HR is an awesome beastie.
Neil


Return to “Personal Diaries”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest