Padfield

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bugboy
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Re: Padfield

Postby bugboy » Wed Aug 09, 2017 9:03 pm

Dryads are up there with Apollos, Cynthias Frits and Festoons for me on my European bucket list. (it is a big list though...)
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Padfield
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Re: Padfield

Postby Padfield » Thu Aug 10, 2017 10:04 am

Hi David and Buggy. Dryad is a relatively late summer butterfly. Once it is out it is abundant where it flies, and you can't really miss something that big, but it doesn't appear until late July, chez moi at least.

You can miss 1st and 2nd instar purple emperor cats. They are still tiny, and the more mobile ones don't leave much in the way of characteristic damage. I am still following four. All are now 2nd instar except Glory, who is now showing the swollen shoulders where the horns are growing:

Image
(Glory)

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(Spike)

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(Angel)

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(Dawn)

There are plenty of white admiral cats to be found, though more than half the once-occupied leaves are now empty. Here are three empty leaves next to each other:

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After empty leaves, the most common state is 1st instar larvae:

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Some are now in 2nd instar:

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Predominantly rain at the moment - not even good weather for hunting cats!

Guy
Guy's Butterflies: http://www.guypadfield.com

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Re: Padfield

Postby Padfield » Fri Aug 11, 2017 3:41 pm

A few rainy day pictures.

Dawn keeping her head above water:

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Angel doing the same - less successfully:

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This one is Spike:

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Glory - those horns still growing under her 1st instar shoulders:

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And finally, baby Giles, who is very young and shows no signs of the swollen shoulders yet:

Image

To put their size and vulnerability into context, here's baby Giles without flash - a tiny smudge on the tip of a leaf!

Image

Guy
Guy's Butterflies: http://www.guypadfield.com

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David M
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Re: Padfield

Postby David M » Sat Aug 12, 2017 10:14 am

That final image really does put things into context, Guy. You do extremely well to find them when they're that size. It's incredible to think that next year they'll be the size of a small slug!

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Re: Padfield

Postby Padfield » Sun Aug 20, 2017 12:56 pm

Quite, David. But it is a long and perilous journey they must make before then ...

I haven't posted recently as I'm back in Suffolk and my time has been taken up with other things. But I have had a few chances to get on the bike and was pleased to see wall near the coast a few days ago. Holly blues are very common in my garden and red admirals are much in evidence. Other species seen have been peacock, painted lady, meadow brown, gatekeeper, grayling and large and small whites. But my best sighting was this female willow emerald damselfly, Lestes viridis, today:

Image

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At first I thought I'd made a wonderful discovery, not having any up-to-date dragonfly books here. But from the internet I learn this species has colonised Suffolk in the last decade and is now going strong. So not really as exciting as I thought, but a Suffolk first for me. :D

Guy
Guy's Butterflies: http://www.guypadfield.com

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Re: Padfield

Postby essexbuzzard » Sun Aug 20, 2017 9:50 pm

Still congratulations, Guy. They have gone through Essex and Kent, and arrived in Suffolk and, I think, Norfolk. If only a few continental butterflies could do the same :?

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Re: Padfield

Postby Padfield » Wed Aug 23, 2017 8:02 am

Thanks, Buzzard. I sent the record in and understand they are keen for as many observers as possible to be on top of this species:

https://british-dragonflies.org.uk/content/willow-emerald-watch

It will be interesting to watch its spread over the rest of the country.

Mostly grey days since. Here are some arctic terns fattening up for their epic journey ...

Image

... and some young swallows getting ready for their own amazing odyssey:

Image

Guy
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Re: Padfield

Postby Padfield » Wed Aug 23, 2017 11:22 am

I popped back to the willow emerald site this morning to see if I could photograph a male. In the short time I was there I didn't see one, but I found another amenable female and got better photographs of critical ID features. One of these is the dark spur on the side of the thorax, diagnostic even in teneral individual (teneral sponsa might also have pale pterostigmas):

Image

It is a very lovely damselfly, with a beautiful coppery emerald sheen over the whole of the thorax and abdomen:

Image

Guy
Guy's Butterflies: http://www.guypadfield.com

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Re: Padfield

Postby bugboy » Wed Aug 23, 2017 12:45 pm

Lovely stuff Guy, I think there's about 5 Lestes species on the British list now!
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Re: Padfield

Postby David M » Wed Aug 23, 2017 10:17 pm

Great close up shots of an often difficult form of insect, Guy. Those colours are sublime.

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Re: Padfield

Postby Padfield » Mon Sep 04, 2017 3:16 pm

Thanks Buggy and David. Apologies for the long delay in replying - too much to do at the start of a new term ...

Since returning to Switzerland I have been able to relocate just two of my purple emperor caterpillars. There is a presumption the others are dead but it is not necessarily so. Both of those I have found (Giles and Angel) are second instar still (or were a couple of days ago, when I last checked). This means Angel has been in this instar for almost a month.

I live about 1km as the butterfly flies from the forest. Every year I see the odd female - even a male sometimes - up here but have never found eggs on the sallow in my garden. This year, however, someone did lay. A few days ago I spotted the characteristic feeding signs on a low leaf and looking closer saw where the egg had been:

Image
(the egg base is shown with the red arrow)

I couldn't find the caterpillar (I think it has perished) or any more evidence on other sprays, but much of the tree is difficult to get at. Maybe next spring I'll find an iris cat in my garden. I would be surprised if the female laid only one egg, unless she was disturbed.

Every year I find brown hairstreak eggs on some local blackthorn - a tiny, isolated patch - but had never seen an adult there until this year. As I passed it a few days ago I disturbed a female, who immediately flew high into a tree and then drifted off down the hill. I got only a record shot of her from a distance before she disappeared:

Image

That's my only brown hairstreak so far this year. It is normally a September/October insect, though, and there is still plenty of time. I didn't see if she had laid any eggs.

Still on the local scene, I found my first white admiral hibernaculum of the year today. Normally I don't find these until later in the year (and there are still plenty of caterpillars sitting around on their poo sticks):

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From the right angle it was just possible to make out the spiny little person inside:

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Otherwise, it has been mostly cloudy or raining recently, with a welcome break yesterday. I took the morning to go to the valley, where plenty of species are still flying. Notably, southern white admirals are still about in very good numbers. The first one I saw was enjoying the hops:

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Others were nectaring on hemp agrimony and other flowers:

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Other species flying included rosy grizzled skipper, dingy skipper, small white, southern small white, wood white, clouded yellow, Berger’s clouded yellow, common blue, Chapman’s blue, Adonis blue, chalkhill blue , turquoise blue, northern brown argus, brown argus, Queen of Spain fritillary, dark green fritillary, spotted fritillary, speckled wood, wall, small heath, meadow brown, tree grayling and dryad.

Here are a few piccies:

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(southern small white)

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(rosy grizzled skipper)

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(turquoise blue)

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(northern brown argus)

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(brown argus)

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(chalkhill blue)

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(Adonis blue)

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(tree grayling)

I had very limited time - I hope a visit in the next week or so will turn up more. I wasn't able to visit my cardinal site to see how they are doing.

Guy
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Re: Padfield

Postby Wurzel » Mon Sep 04, 2017 8:51 pm

Spike need to watch where he eats else he could be eating himself towards a long drop :shock: :lol: I'll say it again teh Southern White Admiral is a cracking looking butterfly :D

Have a goodun

Wurzel

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Re: Padfield

Postby David M » Thu Sep 07, 2017 2:48 pm

Well done with the Brown Hairstreak, Guy, and your Southern Small White is enviable too....I've yet to knowingly see a female of this species.

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Re: Padfield

Postby Padfield » Wed Sep 13, 2017 7:08 pm

Sadly, Wurzel, I fear Spike is no more. There has been a very high mortality this summer.

No shortage of southern small whites in the Rhône Valley, David! And with the extension in their range in recent years, almost up to the Channel, there's a rumour they might be hopping over to Blighty before too long ...

Cold here recently, with snow down to about 2000m. This might not sound low but it dramatically changes the local skyline. Most butterflies have kept a low profile, though today, in sunny moments, speckled woods and Scotch arguses put in an appearance in the forest:

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Many white admiral caterpillars have now made their hibernacula and are safely tucked away:

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Here is another view of that one:

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And here is one I made earlier:

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Others are still sitting it out:

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This one is still first instar:

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Angel is now third instar:

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All these pictures are rather grainy because the light was generally poor today - I used flash a lot.

Giles is still second instar, as can be seen from the double-lobed horns:

Image

I think he will moult soon.

Guy
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Re: Padfield

Postby essexbuzzard » Wed Sep 13, 2017 10:57 pm

Angel and Giles are beginning to stand out a bit on those already changing colour willow leaves, Guy. Let's hope they move onto something a bit greener...

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Re: Padfield

Postby trevor » Thu Sep 14, 2017 2:37 pm

' Southern Small Whites hopping the channel '. Don't say that Guy !. :shock:
Imagine having to carefully scrutinise every White, to see if it is a rare visitor !.
However the Queens from ' over there ' were most welcome.

Best wishes,
Trevor.

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Re: Padfield

Postby bugboy » Thu Sep 14, 2017 6:33 pm

trevor wrote:' Southern Small Whites hopping the channel '. Don't say that Guy !. :shock:
Imagine having to carefully scrutinise every White, to see if it is a rare visitor !.
However the Queens from ' over there ' were most welcome.

Best wishes,
Trevor.


These past couple of years when I've visited the south coast late in the season I've always tried to keep a close eye on any Small Whites I see, just in case...
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Re: Padfield

Postby Wurzel » Thu Sep 14, 2017 8:07 pm

Sorry to hear about Spike, my condolences :(

Have a goodun

Wurzel

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Re: Padfield

Postby Padfield » Fri Sep 15, 2017 4:07 pm

Thank you for your comments. Judging by my previous experience, Buzzard, Angel and Giles are likely to remain on those leaves, largely without eating (in Angel's case at least, as he is 3rd instar), for another month, gently changing colour themselves as the autumn progresses. They're still small and really not very conspicuous, so fingers crossed ... Trevor and Buggy: all I can say is, keep scrutinising those Pierids!! Southern small white is less mobile than small white but it has been pushing north of late. Wurzel: I was sorry about Spike too, but I've long got used to losing my little protégés. Reality is harsh.

Today was set to be the best of the weekend days (I have Friday off) so I set off for what may be my last cardinal check-up of the year. It was cold this morning and on my way to the site the only butterflies I saw were walls, desperately seeking warmth in the vineyards. But when I reached the site itself I immediately - even before I had got my camera out - spotted a female cardinal and went on to see at least a dozen. Mostly, the Buddleia is almost over, but very locally I found bushes still in flower and it was there I found the most cardinals. They are very different creatures from the orange and green butterflies of May - now faded and tarnished rather than glowing. But they are still magnificent and as always it was a delight to watch them.

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(male)

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(male)

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(male)

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(the same male)

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(female)

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(female)

Little else was on the wing. For the fritillaries, only Queen of Spain and high brown remained ...

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(Queen of Spain)

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(high brown)

There were a few whites - southern small and small - and plenty of Berger's clouded yellows. For the blues, a couple of common blues and a few Adonis:

Image

The only skipper I saw was this female large skipper - a strange sighting, I thought.

Image

I would have gone further along the valley but as I was climbing the cardinal hill my bike chain broke and I thought I should get it fixed today rather than wait until next week. So after enjoying this one site I free-wheeled back down the hill, scooted to Martigny and got the train to Monthey, where a very generous mechanic fitted a new chain for free while I waited. Switzerland is an amazing country in that respect. It's like one big village, where even if you don't know someone they look out for you.

Guy
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Re: Padfield

Postby David M » Fri Sep 15, 2017 9:30 pm

It's quite something to know High Browns are still flying chez toi, Guy, and even more of a shock to still be seeing images of Large Skippers!

Well done with the Cardinals. Having now seen them in flesh and wing myself, I can appreciate why people covet them so much. They are magnificent insects.


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