Neil Hulme

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Neil Hulme
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Re: Sussex Kipper

Postby Neil Hulme » Wed Apr 21, 2010 10:43 pm

Hi Guy,
That is a possibility, but my gut feel is that there would have been insufficient time for the larvae to develop to the point of pupation, before the colder weather set in. The single copulation that I (or anyone else) observed was on October 12th, and even assuming significantly earlier pairings (males were on the wing from mid/late September) it would probably be 'cutting it fine'. Under much warmer conditions the females apparently need about three days post-cop before oviposition commences. I hope that the odd one did pupate in time, as this would probably be the 'best' stage for over-wintering here.
Neil

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Neil Hulme
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Re: Sussex Kipper

Postby Neil Hulme » Wed Apr 21, 2010 11:05 pm

Orange Tips And First Small Copper

While waiting for a courier delivery today, I had just enough time to sprint to some local woods to attempt photography of Orange Tips (never easy!). I got lucky. As I was chasing one male, that was alighting with a little more regularity than usual, I slipped at the top of a drainage run-off ditch beside the track, ending up in an undignified heap :oops: . Right next to me was another male OT, sitting on a clump of primrose. I suspect it had emerged that morning, as it hadn't budged by the time I had to leave.

Orange Tip 21.4.10.jpg
Orange Tip2 21.4.10.jpg

Later in the afternoon I joined a friend at Malling Down, near Lewes. He had already photographed a mating pair of Small Coppers, and it wasn't long before I found my first of the year. Our target species, Green Hairstreak, failed to show, although we did see Grizzled Skipper and a few Small Tortoiseshells.

Small Copper 21.4.10.jpg

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Neil Hulme
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Re: Sussex Kipper

Postby Neil Hulme » Thu Apr 22, 2010 6:49 pm

More Orange Tips

A quick visit to some old chalk workings near Chanctonbury Ring failed to find the desired Green Hairstreak - they are relatively 'late' in Sussex this year. I did find a Grizzled Skipper, but best of all, as I got back to the car, I found a male Orange Tip taking its last bask before going to bed.

OTip, Chanctonbury, 22.4.10.jpg

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Neil Hulme
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Re: Sussex Kipper

Postby Neil Hulme » Fri Apr 23, 2010 9:13 pm

First Sussex Duke On The Wing

This morning I led a small group from the Environment Agency to look at one of the Duke of Burgundy sites their volunteers had helped work on in the winter. As of yesterday the species hadn't appeared yet (in Sussex) and I reckoned the chances were slim - but we got lucky and I found one still 'drying off', having emerged earlier in the day.

DoB2 23.4.10.jpg

Later I revisited some old chalk workings near Chanctonbury, and by searching a different area to yesterday, found a nice little colony of Grizzled Skippers (7) and a couple of Dingy.

GS1 23.4.10.jpg
GS2 23.4.10.jpg

I was also pleased to find the solitary mason bee Osmia bicolor, which seems to be doing well and spreading in Sussex. It nests in empty snail shells, which it camouflages by building a wigwam-like roof of dry grass stems and thin sticks. These are picked up from the surrounding area and carried to the nest, and the bee then either hovers above the shell and drops them, or occasionally lands to rearrange the structure.

Osmia bicolor.jpg

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Neil Hulme
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Re: Sussex Kipper

Postby Neil Hulme » Sat Apr 24, 2010 11:34 pm

UKB Photography Workshop - Longstock 24.4.2010

I had a fantastic day out at the UKB Photography Workshop. It's always a pleasure to get together with like-minded people and this event was enjoyable from start to finish. Great talks by Roger Buchanan, Roger Harding (nice camper van/mobile palace), John Bogle, Mervyn Grist, Gary (Gruditch) Richardson, Matthew Oates and Pete. Congratulations and many thanks to Pete, Lisa & Gary, and anyone else who had a hand in putting it together. This was my first UKB Workshop, but it won't be my last. It was nice to catch up with old friends and to meet a few new ones.

The field session on Danebury was timed perfectly. There might not have been much about yesterday, but the butterflies had emerged in force and put on an excellent show - great venue! Having failed to find a Green Hairstreak yet this season, I was delighted to find a mint condition male almost immediately, about 2 metres from where Gary predicted they would be (can't beat local knowledge!). I went home very happy. Thanks again folks.

GH Danebury 24.4.10.jpg
GH2 Danebury 24.4.10.jpg

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Neil Hulme
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Re: Sussex Kipper

Postby Neil Hulme » Sun Apr 25, 2010 9:32 am

Family Photos!

A couple of weeks back my brother and family visited from Antwerp, spending quite a lot of time at Mill Hill! I thought I'd post a couple of nice images they went home with. First is this lovely close-up of a Grizzled Skipper, taken my nephew/Godson Tomas. Not bad for a twelve year old!

's Grizzled Skipper.jpg

Below is an interesting behavioural shot taken by my brother Mark. A mating pair of Pyrausta purpuralis, a diminutive moth characteristic of chalk grasslands, has attracted the attention of several other amorous males. They will have been attracted by the waft of pheromones, and have turned up 'in hope' - mimicking in minature the world of the mighty Purple Emperor!

Pyrausta purpuralis mating frenzy.jpg

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Neil Hulme
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Re: Sussex Kipper

Postby Neil Hulme » Tue Apr 27, 2010 10:06 pm

First Holly Blue

While walking through some local woods this morning I sighted UKB member M_galathea, and shared both a very pleasant hour or two with him, and some very fine butterflies! I was delighted that this was his first 'Duke' in Sussex, as he was one of the grafters that turned out to help improve the habitat here last winter - just deserts! We saw 4 Duke of Burgundy, including an ab. gracilens female, several female Orange Tips on the look-out for egg-laying sites, a Grizzled Skipper and a very freshly emerged Holly Blue - my first of the year.

DoB UKB 27.4.10.jpg
HB UKB 27.4.10.jpg

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Neil Hulme
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Re: Sussex Kipper

Postby Neil Hulme » Thu Apr 29, 2010 10:18 pm

Jack's Holiday Comes Good!

On Wednesday I joined up with a couple of local 'butterfly buddies', and 'guest of honour' Jack Harrison of UKB fame. After a couple of dodgy days, I was delighted that Jack's trip was to end on such a 'high'. It was one of those days that makes a good season! We started at a Duke of Burgundy conservation site, seeing three males. Later we moved to the central part of Rewell Wood, where a well-concealed depression acts as a real heat-trap. If we were to find 'early' Pearl-bordered Fritillaries, they would be in this clearing. Jack soon spotted a flash of orange-brown and we were 'in business'. 3 males and female entertained us until it finally clouded over. We also found a Grizzled Skipper here (with 2 others elsewhere), which obligingly fell asleep. Holly Blue, Orange Tip, Green-veined White, Speckled Wood, Brimstone, Peacock and Comma made up the supporting cast. We ended up at the 'Sportsman's Inn' in Amberley, which has 'probably' the best views from a beer-garden in England.

DoB1 UKB 28.4.10.jpg
DoB2 UKB 28.4.10.jpg
DoB3 UKB 28.4.10.jpg
Grizzled UKB 28.4.10.jpg
PBF UKB 28.4.10.jpg

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Neil Hulme
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Re: Sussex Kipper

Postby Neil Hulme » Fri Apr 30, 2010 8:32 am

Sitting Pretty

Yesterday I had to visit Arundel Arboretum to pick up a new Acer tree for the garden. So I couldn't resist another go at the Pearl-bordered Fritillaries in Rewell Wood. It was warm and quite overcast, but the hazy sunshine occasionally broke through, keeping the PBFs active - but a little more approachable than yesterday. In full sunshine the males hardly ever stop moving, until things cool down in the late afternoon. I failed to get the underside shot I was after, but was well pleased with this chap!

PBF Rewell 29.4.10.jpg

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Zonda
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Re: Sussex Kipper

Postby Zonda » Fri Apr 30, 2010 2:26 pm

Some great pics here, and i am in awe of the local knowledge that goes with it. :D
Cheers,,, Zonda.

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Jack Harrison
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Re: Sussex Kipper

Postby Jack Harrison » Fri Apr 30, 2010 3:00 pm

Some great pics here, and i am in awe of the local knowledge that goes with it. :D
Yes indeed. Neil smokes them out :!:

Jack

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Neil Hulme
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Re: Sussex Kipper

Postby Neil Hulme » Sat May 01, 2010 11:35 am

Thanks Zonda and Jack,
I'm dead chuffed with the new camera. I'm certainly finding it easier to get some reasonable shots with the Mark II Box Brownie :D
Neil

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Neil Hulme
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Re: Sussex Kipper

Postby Neil Hulme » Sun May 02, 2010 5:02 pm

Bedtime For PBFs

Yesterday I spent the late afternoon and early evening watching Pearl-bordered Fritillaries go to roost, hoping to find out more about their choice of bedding-down locations. Almost without exception, they chose coppice stools (sweet chestnut) or taller trees (sweet chestnut and birch) in a sheltered spot, on the leeward side of the nearest tall wind-break (mature woodland block). Roosting height was anywhere between 0.5m and c.7m, with the majority at c.1m. Some coppice stools were clearly considered particularly favourable, with clusters of up to 4 fritillaries per stand. They were quite happy to settle on the outer margins of the sweet chestnut, although in inclement weather I imagine they would crawl into a more sheltered position further 'inside' the plant.

PBF Roost UKB1.jpg
PBF Roost UKB2.jpg

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Jack Harrison
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Re: Sussex Kipper

Postby Jack Harrison » Sun May 02, 2010 7:27 pm

What superb observations. How many in total?

Jack

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Gruditch
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Re: Sussex Kipper

Postby Gruditch » Mon May 03, 2010 8:05 am

Tis an interesting observation. Last year I had a cunning plan to photograph Small Pearl-bordered Frits when they went to roost. Of the dozen or so I was watching only one chose the bracken as it roosting site, the others whent to the trees. I also found a tree roosting Pearl-bordered on Saturday.

Sorry to butt in Kipper, regards Gruditch

P.s nice pic's :wink:

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Neil Hulme
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Re: Sussex Kipper

Postby Neil Hulme » Mon May 03, 2010 10:07 am

Hi Jack,
That was based on watching 15-20 individuals turn-in for the night.

Hi Gruditch,
Interesting to hear about the habits of the SPBF you watched. At Park Corner Heath Reserve the SPBFs usually roost in low scrub (e.g. gorse) and on dead seed-heads etc, although I have also seen them 'go high'. It's certainly useful to get to know their sleeping habits on your local site, particularly if you're into photography!
The larger fritillaries seem to show a clear preference for resting up in the canopy. I'm sure that many on here have watched in awe as Silver-washed Fritillaries start swooping down from the tree-tops when the sun breaks through, following a period of overcast conditions. Last June I spent several days watching High Brown Fritillaries on Dartmoor. Rather than retire to the apparently suitable refuge of bracken, the majority would descend to the base of the hillside and then roost quite high in a line of oak.

Neil

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Neil Hulme
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Re: Sussex Kipper

Postby Neil Hulme » Tue May 04, 2010 9:01 pm

Bank Holiday Monday Blues

Bank Holiday Monday was a bit of a struggle in these cold northerly winds. Things started OK when I walked out the door to find a male Holly Blue posing on a Fatsia japonica in my back garden. I'm not sure whether this large, 'architectural' plant has been discussed in the Foodplants and Gardening section before, but it's one of the best for providing a winter nectar source.

HB UKB.jpg

Despite short periods of sunshine, virtually nothing was flying in Rewell Wood. So I had to fall back on moth caterpillars! Close to where I had hoped to find Pearl-bordered Fritillaries, I noticed the characteristic larval feeding pattern of the Spotted White Plume (Pterophorus galactodactyla). This species has quite a widely scattered distribution, but is very localised and far from common, with East Anglia being its stronghold. The image below shows the caterpillar, a recently-shed skin, and the telltale, white-lined holes that this species makes in the leaves of burdock.

Spotted White Plume UKB.jpg

Hannah and I finished the afternoon off by taking a stroll around Slindon Common - at least the cold didn't stop the bluebells from showing!

Slindon Common UKB.jpg

Susie
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Re: Sussex Kipper

Postby Susie » Tue May 04, 2010 9:42 pm

I've had a false castor oil plant (fatsia japonica to you clever types) in my garden for as long as I've had my own gardens (nearly 20 years now) and I've never seen a butterfly on it feeding. I'll have to keep a look out next year if my plant recovers from last winter.

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Neil Hulme
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Re: Sussex Kipper

Postby Neil Hulme » Tue May 04, 2010 10:14 pm

Hi Susie,
Mine attracts good numbers of Red Admiral every autumn (and later in mild winters) and last autumn it had 9 Painted Ladies on it at the same time. Always covered in bees too. I'm surprised they don't go for yours :? .
Neil

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Re: Sussex Kipper

Postby Susie » Wed May 05, 2010 6:25 am

They have always been good for bees, that's one of the reasons I have it. I would guess that lack of butterflies is due to positioning as I have always grown it in shady parts of the garden. It grows happily in shade and is good to brighten up a dull corner, bees dont need the sun, but butterflies probably prefer it.

Thanks for the initial observation, that's another one for the list. :)


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