Neil Hulme

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Pete Eeles
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Re: Neil Hulme

Postby Pete Eeles » Mon Aug 21, 2017 5:42 pm

Great reports Neil; I particularly appreciate the habitat shots to really put things in context.

Cheers,

- Pete

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Jack Harrison
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Re: Neil Hulme

Postby Jack Harrison » Mon Aug 21, 2017 6:21 pm

Neil: you are annoying. You claim you know nothing about the technicalities of photography, Funny how you never have a tilted horizon; you understand and use the “Rule of Thirds”; the dynamic range of your pictures is always just right. Habitat/location shots are spot on.

Stop pretending Neil. You might not know your f/stop from your ISO but are a damned good photographer.

Jack
Last edited by Jack Harrison on Mon Aug 21, 2017 7:18 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Neil Hulme

Postby bugboy » Mon Aug 21, 2017 7:00 pm

That's a peach of an ab. you found there Neil :)
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Re: Neil Hulme

Postby essexbuzzard » Mon Aug 21, 2017 10:11 pm

Would happily share a visit with you Neil. I was there a couple of weeks earlier than you, but could easily arrange things accordingly, either in August or the beginning of June, when the first generation SPBF and Marshies are flying.

Great SPBF ab., Neil. In all the times I have visited Kynance, even that slumped cliff, I have never seen one like that. A bit of luck, perhaps, but well deserved for all the great work you do.

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Re: Neil Hulme

Postby PhilBWright » Wed Aug 23, 2017 7:43 am

Hi Neil,
Looking at the UKB life cycle chart for the Small Pearl Bordered Fritillary (SPBF), there appears to me, approx. 12 weeks needed between broods (from imago to imago) in the summer when the larva have much to feed on.
After a second brood in late summer, when looking at the instar larva stages,
"The larvae hibernate after the third moult"
so I hope more work can be done by BC Sussex in monitoring the success of the second brood through to next year as this species can spend most of it's time as a caterpillar.

Kind Regards,

Philip

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Re: Neil Hulme

Postby David M » Fri Aug 25, 2017 7:42 pm

Beautiful series of images from your trip, Neil, capped with that amazing SPBF aberration.

That part of the country not only has breathtaking scenery but also an impressive range of butterfly species.

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Neil Hulme
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Re: Neil Hulme

Postby Neil Hulme » Sat Aug 26, 2017 6:10 pm

Thanks, Pete, bugboy and David.
Thanks, Jack. I blame the FZ38; it's taught me everything I know about photography!
Mark: I'll try to co-ordinate something in August. I would love to see Marsh Fritillary down there, but the problem is escaping my Duke, PBF and SPBF commitments in Sussex.
Philip: Fortunately there will always be sufficient time for second brood SPBF larvae to become sufficiently advanced ahead of diapause. I don't envisage the same problems that seem to face e.g. third brood Wall larvae.
BWs, Neil

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Neil Hulme
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Re: Neil Hulme

Postby Neil Hulme » Sat Aug 26, 2017 6:17 pm

In Praise Of Steyning Downland Scheme

I’ve not managed to spend much time at the Steyning Downland Scheme http://www.steyningdownland.org this year, but I did spend most of Friday (25 August) there. I was really impressed by the way things have moved forward again, with great progress everywhere.

The Prunus stock is in fine shape (Brown Hairstreak numbers are modest this year, but should recover by next season); the Primula planting (‘Dukes of Steyning’ project) has worked exceptionally well in both the Coombe and Secret Garden (now looking like prime Duke of Burgundy habitat); the Coombe grassland continues to improve in quality, as do Pepperscombe Bank and the floor of the Rifle Range; and the Round Hill chalk-pit and Prunus on the adjacent slope both look in much better shape. I could go on and on ... Congratulations to all involved.

Has all this on-going work made much difference, as measured in terms of the butterfly fauna? Following reports of Adonis Blue towards the top of the Coombe, I focused on monitoring this species, assisted at times by David Cook and Colin Knight. The females are tricky to spot and identify, so probably ‘slip through the net’ quite regularly, but we saw very encouraging numbers in several areas. Adonis Blue is one of our best indicators of chalk grassland quality.

The good news is that the Adonis count reads as follows: Coombe 12 (7f, 5m); north flank of Rifle Range east end 7 (2f, 5m); north flank of Rifle Range west end 1 (f); Rifle Range bottom 1 (m); Round Hill chalk-pit 10 (3f, 7m). That number was later reduced by a particularly large Wasp Spider. A total count of 31 Adonis Blue is a clear sign that things are now improving very significantly – you would have to go a long way back in time to better this number here. However, I’m certain there’s far more good news still to come as the grazing programme continues.

There were plenty of other butterflies on show including, of course, Brown Hairstreak. Amongst them were a few third brood Green-veined White and Small Copper. Some very nice Buff-tip moth caterpillars can be found along the Blackthorn just outside the fenced hairstreak reserve. Those coming to see the Brown Hairstreak should also pay a visit to the Coombe (continue up the footpath which starts at the bowling green) and Round Hill chalk-pit (via Bostal Road).

BC Adonis Blue female, SDS 25.8.17.jpg
BC Wasp Spider with Adonis Blue, SDS 25.8.17.jpg
BC Small Copper (2), SDS 25.8.17.jpg
BC Buff-tip caterpillars, SDS 25.8.17.jpg

BC Brimstone, SDS 25.8.17.jpg
BC Small Copper (1), SDS 25.8.17.jpg

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Neil Hulme
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Re: Neil Hulme

Postby Neil Hulme » Sat Aug 26, 2017 7:00 pm

Last SPBF And First Signs Of Autumn

Today (26 August) I spent a wonderful, warm and sunny afternoon on the BC reserves with Ian and Mark Cadey. We initially thought that we had seen the last of the second brood Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary of the year, as a geriatric male on Park Corner Heath seemed to be on his last legs. However, we were in for a nice surprise, later finding a further six individuals flying over the Rowland Wood rush meadow. At least one male and one female were still in pristine condition. Eggs are still being laid and the characteristic feeding damage left on violet leaves by small SPBF larvae was widespread across both reserves.

FFTF SPBF larval feeding damage, Rowland Wood 26.8.17.jpg

We also saw some beautiful, dark-coloured Comma feeding on blackberries; a sure sign that autumn is now just around the corner.

BC Comma, PCH (1) 26.8.17.jpg
BC Comma, PCH (2) 26.8.17.jpg

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Re: Neil Hulme

Postby Neil Hulme » Sun Aug 27, 2017 9:07 pm

Three Queens

Late yesterday I received a phone call from Dave Harris, informing me that he'd just seen a Queen of Spain Fritillary (QoS) on his transect between Telscombe and Piddinghoe. I'm very grateful to Dave for all that followed.

Dave guided me and Ian and Mark Cadey to the site early this morning, before heading off on other business. For an hour and a half we made a thorough search of the meadow, seeing many butterflies including Adonis Blue, Silver-spotted Skipper and Small Copper. The Queen of Spain's travel companions were out in force (at least half-a-dozen Clouded Yellow and numerous whites), but our target was disappointingly elusive.

At 11.15 am I was beginning to lose hope, when a Queen of Spain suddenly appeared from the hedgerow at the western end of the meadow. I called the Cadeys over and within a few minutes we were watching two males battling for the best position in what proved to be the lekking area, around a bonfire site.

Inevitably, we spent the entire day there, enjoying these exotic visitors as they repeatedly chased any Clouded Yellow, white (Large, Small and Green-veined) or Common Blue which crossed their territory. We eventually proved, through photography, the presence of three males, with one being in good condition (only seen once during the day).

QoS tends to migrate in mixed sex groups, so I'm hopeful that one or two females (which are more elusive than the males) might be around and will have found some Field or Wild Pansy in the area. I suspect that others will have arrived with the good weather, so it's well worth looking at locations such as High & Over and Tidemills.

Access and directions: Please note that the meadow is private land, but the farmer, Colin Appleton, has kindly agreed to allow access.
The main lekking area is around the bonfire site at TQ42130306. The butterflies tend to remain quite faithful to this location from about 11.15 am - 3.00 pm, thereafter spending most of the time nectaring on knapweeds along the top of the meadow, particularly between the fire-site and TQ42320304.

Head towards Halcombe Farm from the north of Peacehaven. Please do not park around the farm buildings at TQ42170302 except at weekends and Bank Holidays, as this is a turning area for large vehicles. Alternative parking can be found a little further down the track at TQ42650321. Please note that people are holidaying in the caravans on-site, so please respect their privacy. Good luck!

BC Queen of Spain (2) Piddinghoe 27.8.17.jpg
BC Queen of Spain (1) Piddinghoe 27.8.17.jpg
BC Queen of Spain (3) Piddinghoe 27.8.17.jpg
BC Queen of Spain (4) Piddinghoe 27.8.17.jpg
BC Queen of Spain (5) Piddinghoe 27.8.17.jpg



BC Queen of Spain (6) Piddinghoe 27.8.17.jpg

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Re: Neil Hulme

Postby bugboy » Sun Aug 27, 2017 9:55 pm

Oooooooooooooh, I was wondering what to do on my day off this week... :D
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Jack Harrison
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Re: Neil Hulme

Postby Jack Harrison » Mon Aug 28, 2017 7:09 am

Q of S fascinating report that raises some questions.

1. Unlike the prominent Monarch or [continental] Swallowtail, Q of S is unlikely to attract the attention of non-lepidopterists.

2. The locality where Q of S has just been found is hardly on the “beaten track”.

So how many Q of S might be present in un-visited remote localities? It could number hundreds or even thousands.

Pure speculation of course. Thoughts?

Jack

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Re: Neil Hulme

Postby Goldie M » Mon Aug 28, 2017 8:39 am

What a fantastic find, wish I lived nearer :D Goldie :mrgreen: :mrgreen:

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Neil Hulme
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Re: Neil Hulme

Postby Neil Hulme » Mon Aug 28, 2017 4:54 pm

Hi Jack,
It will be interesting to see if any more turn up.
I suspect that the percentage of rare migrant butterflies which reach our shores, but which go unseen, unrecognised or unreported, is probably in excess of 95%.
BWs, Neil

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Neil Hulme
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Re: Neil Hulme

Postby Neil Hulme » Mon Aug 28, 2017 4:58 pm

Royal Performance

The three male Queen of Spain Fritillary put on a great performance for the many visitors today (see previous report for location and access details). Two males were regularly seen (sometimes sparring) around the bonfire site, while the third remained more aloof, occasionally being spotted along the track further east.

I would again like to thank the farmer, Colin Appleton, for not only allowing access, but also for directing visitors to the site, and even giving some a lift!

BC QoS (2), Piddinghoe 28.8.17.jpg
BC QoS (1), Piddinghoe 28.8.17.jpg

BC QoS (3), Piddinghoe 28.8.17.jpg

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Neil Freeman
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Re: Neil Hulme

Postby Neil Freeman » Mon Aug 28, 2017 6:20 pm

Hi Neil,

Just catching up on your diary after returning on Saturday from our own family holiday down on the Lizard. We also stopped at Kennack Sands...looks like I missed you by a day.
Interesting to compare your comments with what I saw just a week later, the SPBFs were still about but most were looking worse for wear. Loads of other good stuff still about :D I have done a couple of reports in my diary and still have some photos to sort through.

And as for those Queen of Spain Fritillaries...great stuff :mrgreen: :D
I see on a couple of facebook moth groups that I am a member of that there has been a lot of migrant activity over the past couple of days so maybe there are other goodies about somewhere.

Cheers,

Neil.

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Re: Neil Hulme

Postby millerd » Mon Aug 28, 2017 6:21 pm

What a wonderful find indeed. :) A little vexing that I drove within a mile or so of this spot on Saturday, completely oblivious of their presence... Incidentally, I didn't see any at either Tide Mills or High & Over (but then I wasn't looking! :) ).

Dave

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Re: Neil Hulme

Postby David M » Mon Aug 28, 2017 8:35 pm

Great effort with the Queens, Neil, and fair play to the local farmer for being so accommodating.

If it wasn't for the fact that I see decent numbers of this species on the continent every year I would probably make the long journey myself!

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Re: Neil Hulme

Postby Wurzel » Mon Aug 28, 2017 9:07 pm

Great news Neil, let me know if they start heading Westwards :wink: , still a bit far to travel for me :( :mrgreen:

Have a goodun

Wurzel

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Re: Neil Hulme

Postby bugboy » Tue Aug 29, 2017 7:14 pm

HI Neil, good to see you again today. Thought you might like this little memento of these past few days :)

20170829_122701 resize.jpg
Mr Neil Hulme OBE
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