Neil Hulme

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Neil Hulme
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Re: Sussex Kipper

Postby Neil Hulme » Thu Jun 16, 2011 9:54 am

Southwater Woods

On Tuesday (14th June) I went to Southwater Woods with my father, meeting several other enthusiasts throughout the day. The woods are in that state of high anticipation for the summer woodland species which thrive here. Thinning of the understory by the Dragons Estate over the last two winters will only serve to further increase their numbers. Our list included White Admiral, Silver-washed Fritillary, Small Skipper, Large Skipper, Comma, Red Admiral, Small Tortoiseshell, Common Blue, Green-veined White, Speckled Wood and Meadow Brown. White Admiral and Silver-washed Fritillary numbers are still in the 'early build' stage, comprising just male butterflies (just one female SWF seen). Although isolated reports of very early Purple Emperor have come from elsewhere, Southwater still feels to be a few days short of the start of the Silly Season. I didn't sense His presence.

The Small Skippers (9) had clearly emerged that morning and were still very unsteady on the wing. Also fresh out were the first of the second brood Green-veined White and a large number of hutchinsoni Comma. But I was most pleased to see the tremendous numbers of Meadow Brown (100+), which has made a spectacular come-back after two poor years.

UKB White Admiral.jpg
UKB White Admiral underside.jpg
White Admiral Male

UKB Small Skipper.jpg
Small Skipper Male

UKB Meadow Brown male.jpg
Meadow Brown Male

UKB Large Skipper pairing.jpg
Large Kippers Mating

UKB Crookhorn Lane, Southwater Woods.jpg
Crookhorn Lane, Madgeland Wood, Southwater

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Michaeljf
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Re: Sussex Kipper

Postby Michaeljf » Thu Jun 16, 2011 12:07 pm

Kipper,

all lovely shots - especially of the very new White Admiral - and the Meadow Brown is (surprisingly) beautiful in his new emergence.

I like the inclusion of the landscape shot, of course :wink:

Michael

Susie
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Re: Sussex Kipper

Postby Susie » Thu Jun 16, 2011 1:02 pm

Oi, Neil, don't make Southwater look too attractive or everyone will want to do there! :lol:

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Jack Harrison
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Re: Sussex Kipper

Postby Jack Harrison » Thu Jun 16, 2011 1:11 pm

...don't make Southwater look too attractive...
I still kick myself. For five years in the late 70s/early 80's I lived about 7 miles from these lovely woods (I could have easily cycled there) yet I never knew about the woods. I used to travel miles to see the woodland goodies.

Jack

Susie
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Re: Sussex Kipper

Postby Susie » Thu Jun 16, 2011 8:08 pm

I reckon there are an awful lot of sites around here which are equally as good as Southwater, it is just a case of someone being there at the right time. I hope to find some new sites this year for Purple Emperor, even if it is only High Wood.

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Neil Hulme
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Re: Sussex Kipper

Postby Neil Hulme » Fri Jun 17, 2011 10:49 am

Hi Susie,
You are right. It's not too difficult to see the beast when you know where to seek HIM, so most enthusiasts congregate at known locations year after year for their fix. It is hard to forsake guaranteed time with the Emperor to go searching terra nova during that all-too-short magical period of summer; and to make matters worse the butterfly remains sufficiently aloof and elusive to occur undetected in many woods for several decades. These factors conspire to make the species seriously under-recorded. Every wood with sufficient broad-leaved sallow within a 30 mile radius of your home will have them. I'm confident you will find some 'new' ones.
Just to get the juices flowing, here's one I prepared earlier. See you in a Sussex woodland soon!
Neil

PEMPIRE.jpg

Frying Pan
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Re: Sussex Kipper

Postby Frying Pan » Sat Jun 18, 2011 2:46 pm

Hey Kipper,

I have to agree the image of the White Admiral is quite exceptional. Have you seen any Purple Hairstreaks yet?

FP

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Neil Hulme
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Re: Sussex Kipper

Postby Neil Hulme » Sat Jun 18, 2011 6:27 pm

Thanks Frying Pan - and welcome to the site. :D
I saw a freshly emerged Purple Hairstreak (male) at Southwater Woods this morning, on the main W-E ride through Madgeland.
Neil

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Neil Hulme
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Re: Sussex Kipper

Postby Neil Hulme » Mon Jun 20, 2011 4:38 pm

Summer Soaking

I've seldom been wetter than I was on Saturday (18th June), but after getting thoroughly soaked time after time I finally went home happy, with some nice shots won through stubborn perseverance. I had started early on Cissbury Ring, looking for Dark Green Fritillary, but wave after wave of driving rain finally saw me retreating to the car. Blue sky was always visible on the horizon but the strong WSW wind was just pushing a conveyor-belt of cloud over my head.

UKB Cissbury - storm passage.jpg

I decided to try Southwater Woods, in the hope of finding a few Silver-washed Fritillary and White Admiral, or even a Purple Emperor. Sunny spells amounted to no more than five minutes between the lengthy periods of grey cloud cover, and the occasional shower to ensure I couldn't dry off. I managed to get a few shots of the male SWF which would occasionally drop down from the canopy. When it appeared that all prospects of sunshine had disappeared I headed for home, but after driving a couple of miles a huge area of clear blue sky appeared. By the time I had performed a U-turn and was back in the woods it had miraculously disappeared.... and I got a thorough soaking.

UKB SWF 2.jpg
UKB SWF 1.jpg

As I headed back towards Worthing the weather looked decidedly more promising over Cissbury. As I approached 'the ring' I was pleased to see 3 or 4 mint-fresh Dark Green Fritillaries swooping around the meadow. Then the heavens opened and torrential rain had them, and me, seeking shelter in the grass and low scrub. With such an inadequate refuge I just lay there and made like an amphibian. Had anyone seen me through the stair-rods, lying in the grass, dripping wet and laughing, they might justifiably have doubted my sanity.

Then the rain stopped as suddenly as it had started. Even this late in the afternoon the sunshine brought a comforting warmth and gradually, one-by-one, the fritillaries opened their wings and obligingly posed for me as they dried their wings off. After seven hours it felt like I'd finally beaten the weather.

UKB DGF 1.jpg
UKB DGF 2.jpg
UKB DGF 3.jpg

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ChrisC
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Re: Sussex Kipper

Postby ChrisC » Mon Jun 20, 2011 6:38 pm

lovely contrast in the last 2 Neil. lovely.
Chris

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Ian Pratt
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Re: Sussex Kipper

Postby Ian Pratt » Mon Jun 20, 2011 7:54 pm

Great photos generally Neil- not sure why I bother taking any when yours are so clear and descriptive. Great stuff! 8)

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John W
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Re: Sussex Kipper

Postby John W » Mon Jun 20, 2011 9:33 pm

Yes fantastic photos! I have the same camera but alas not the same results :(

Susie
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Re: Sussex Kipper

Postby Susie » Mon Jun 20, 2011 10:16 pm

John W wrote:Yes fantastic photos! I have the same camera but alas not the same results :(


Likewise!

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Jack Harrison
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Re: Sussex Kipper

Postby Jack Harrison » Tue Jun 21, 2011 1:01 am

John W wrote:Yes fantastic photos! I have the same camera but alas not the same results :(
Susie: Likewise!
How do the logistics work then? Three people with the same camera must require a lot of planning. Do you have a rota, or is it ad hoc who has the use of the camera at any particular time?

Jack

Frying Pan
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Re: Sussex Kipper

Postby Frying Pan » Tue Jun 21, 2011 11:33 pm

Hey Kipper,

you are correct, the DGF photo's are remarkable.

Frying Pan

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Willrow
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Re: Sussex Kipper

Postby Willrow » Thu Jun 23, 2011 2:38 pm

Jack Harrison wrote:
John W wrote:Yes fantastic photos! I have the same camera but alas not the same results :(
Susie: Likewise!
How do the logistics work then? Three people with the same camera must require a lot of planning. Do you have a rota, or is it ad hoc who has the use of the camera at any particular time?

Jack


Very droll Jack...you simply could'nt resist!!! :lol:

Bill :D
Why not visit my website at http://www.dragonfly-days.co.uk

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Willrow
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Re: Sussex Kipper

Postby Willrow » Thu Jun 23, 2011 2:43 pm

Great reportage and top notch images Neil. Glad you can still keep your sense of humour in this crazy 'summer' weather :roll:

Bill :D
Why not visit my website at http://www.dragonfly-days.co.uk

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Neil Hulme
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Re: Sussex Kipper

Postby Neil Hulme » Sat Jun 25, 2011 10:44 pm

Slow Start For The Emperor

At 11.35 hrs on Thursday (23rd June) I saw my first Purple Emperor of the year. But the single male which made several unopposed circuits of the Madgeland Master Trees remains my only sighting to date. I hope that things pick up spectacularly, but I have a gut feeling that the 2010 mid July gales may have rendered this season very average.

There's little doubt that the cool June conditions have gone a long way towards re-setting the butterfly calendar, bringing it back to a more normal setting. The rapid change from highly accelerated to retarded development seems to have opened up a significant gap between the first appearance of early individuals and the main emergence in several species. White Admirals and Silver-washed Fritillaries have been on the wing for some time now at Southwater, but their numbers currently remain low.

As the woodlands are yet to reach anywhere near their full potential I have spent many more hours than usual wandering through the spectacularly beautiful set-aside meadows in the area. On Friday I bumped into Susie, who's also 'in the know' about some of these hidden gems. Clouds of butterflies fly up from the flower-rich grasslands in numbers which remind me of my youth. Amongst the thousands of Meadow Browns are tens of Marbled Whites, and lesser numbers of Small Copper, Small Skipper, Small Tortoiseshell and Ringlet. The mighty oaks which border these forgotten fields are now home to good numbers of Purple Hairstreak, some of which can be intercepted before they climb into the canopy for the first time. On sunny early mornings or evenings it is hard to imagine a better place to be.

UKB Southwater meadow.jpg
UKB Marbled White, Southwater Woods 24.6.11.jpg
UKB Ringlet Southwater Woods 24.6.11.jpg
UKB SWF Southwater Woods 24.6.11.jpg
UKB Marbled White, Southwater 23.6.11.jpg
UKB Ringlet 3 Southwater Woods 24.6.11.jpg
UKB Ringlet 2 Southwater Woods 24.6.11.jpg

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Neil Hulme
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Re: Sussex Kipper

Postby Neil Hulme » Mon Jun 27, 2011 10:30 pm

BC Walk

Twenty five BC members turned up for my Southwater Woods walk on Sunday (26th June), with the sunshine finally breaking through the early mist by midday. I had arrived much earlier than the 10.30 hrs start, in order to photograph some of the grassland species before they woke up.

UKB MW 26.6.11.jpg

Species seen included White Admiral, Silver-washed Fritillary, Ringlet, Marbled White, Purple Hairstreak, Small Skipper, Large Skipper, Holly Blue (second brood), Small Tortoiseshell, Small Copper, Green-veined White, Red Admiral, Comma, Speckled Wood and Meadow Brown. But the stars of the show were the three Purple Emperors, two of which were engaging in spectacular aerial battles over the car park.

The numbers of woodland species for which Southwater is so famous remain low, but a walk across the beautiful set-aside meadows more than made up for this shortfall. "Thanks" to Sherie New for the image below.

UKB Southwater Walk by Sherie New.jpg

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Neil Hulme
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Re: Sussex Kipper

Postby Neil Hulme » Tue Jun 28, 2011 4:25 pm

Botany Bay Emperors

Yesterday (28th June) I was joined by Matthew Oates in a raid on Botany Bay. But rather than a shed-full of grounded Emperors, ideal conditions brought only 3 males out to play, despite much looking. We are both getting rather concerned that we have a relatively poor iris season to contend with. At least those magnificent beasts which did show up performed well, with repeated returns to the forest floor, finger-sitting and prolonged periods of tongue-wiping (on the leaves of low foliage) to remove silt particles from the proboscis after 'salting'.

UKB PE BB 1.jpg
UKB PE BB 2.jpg
UKB PE BB 3.jpg


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