David M

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David M
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Re: David M

Postby David M » Mon Jan 02, 2017 6:01 pm

Happy New Year!

This winter is shaping up better than the last few so far. The constant rain and floods of last year have been replaced by predominant high pressure and even here in Swansea we've had precious little rain. All we need now is a decent cold snap to create conditions more favourable for overwintering stages and, with any luck, a warmer and drier April to enable the early emergers to prosper!

I nipped out for half an hour to the coast today, and although it was no better than 7 degrees, the relative lack of wind made it feel quite pleasant. With cloudless skies I wondered whether there might even be a Red Admiral or two! At Limeslade Bay I noticed this huge patch of flowering hebe in a sunny and sheltered spot. Quite a few bees were nectaring from it and the bergenia adjacent to it is already beginning to flower. This is probably my likeliest spot for an unseasonal butterfly so I'll be back every now and then when (if) conditions are suitable.

Wishing everybody a happy and productive 2017!!

1LimesladeHebe(1).jpg

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David M
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Re: David M

Postby David M » Sat Feb 18, 2017 6:02 pm

Dates of first UK sightings 2017:

1. Red Admiral - 18 February, Dan-y-graig cemetery, Port Tennant, Swansea
2. Small Tortoiseshell - 9 March, Swansea Vale
3. Brimstone - 9 March, Morfa, Swansea
4. Peacock - 9 March, Oystermouth Cemetery, Mumbles, Swansea
5. Comma - 9 March, Oystermouth Cemetery, Mumbles, Swansea
6. Small White - 25 March, Castle Meadows, Abergavenny
7. Holly Blue - 26 March, Kilvey Hill, Swansea
8. Speckled Wood - 26 March, Kilvey Hill, Swansea
9. Large White - 6 April, Kilvey Hill, Swansea
10. Orange Tip - 6 April, Swansea Vale
11. Green Veined White - 8 April, Whiteford Burrows, Gower, Swansea
12. Grizzled Skipper - 23 April, Merthyr Mawr, nr. Porthcawl
13. Green Hairstreak - 1 May, Welshmoor, Gower, Swansea
14. Wall Brown - 2 May, Kilvey Hill, Swansea
15. Small Copper - 6 May, Crymlyn Burrows, Swansea
16. Small Blue - 6 May, Crymlyn Burrows, Swansea
17. Dingy Skipper - 7 May, Kittle Quarry, Swansea
18. Pearl Bordered Fritillary - 13 May, Ewyas Harold Common, nr. Pontrilas
19. Common Blue - 14 May, Crymlyn Burrows, Swansea
20. Small Heath - 14 May, Crymlyn Burrows, Swansea
21. Brown Argus - 14 May, Crymlyn Burrows, Swansea
22. Duke of Burgundy - 20 May, Rodborough Common, nr. Stroud, Glos
23. Adonis Blue - 20 May, Rodborough Common, nr. Stroud, Glos
24. Marsh Fritillary - 21 May, Welshmoor, Gower, Swansea
25. Small Pearl Bordered Fritillary - 22 May, Fairwood Common, Gower, Swansea
26. Meadow Brown - 4 June, Fairwood Common, Gower, Swansea
27. Ringlet - 17 June, Daneway Banks, nr. Sapperton, Glos
28. Large Skipper - 17 June, Daneway Banks, nr. Sapperton, Glos
29. Marbled White - 17 June, Daneway Banks, nr. Sapperton, Glos
30. Large Blue - 17 June, Daneway Banks, nr. Sapperton, Glos
31. Silver Washed Fritillary - 17 June, Lower Woods, nr. Wickwar, Glos
32. Silver Studded Blue - 18 June, St Govan's Head, nr Bosherston, Pembrokeshire
33. Dark Green Fritillary - 20 June, Old Castle Down, nr. Ewenny, Glamorgan
34. High Brown Fritillary - 20 June, Old Castle Down, nr. Ewenny, Glamorgan
35. Painted Lady - 20 June, Old Castle Down, nr. Ewenny, Glamorgan
36. Large Heath - 21 June, Cors Caron, nr. Tregaron, Ceredigion
37. White Letter Hairstreak - 26 June, Glanymor Park, Loughor
38. Hedge Brown - 17 July, Glanymor Park, Loughor
39. Essex Skipper - 22 July, Mill Lane Orchard, Abergavenny
40. Small Skipper - 22 July, Mill Lane Orchard, Abergavenny
41. Grayling - 5 August, The Ayres Nature Reserve, Isle of Man
42. Brown Hairstreak - 10 August, West Williamston, Pembrokeshire
43. Clouded Yellow - 13 August, A477, Pembrokeshire

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David M
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Re: David M

Postby David M » Thu Mar 09, 2017 7:12 pm

Thursday 9th March 2017 - Action at last....

After living under a curtain of cloud for over a week, today was forecast mild and sunny (at least in the morning), so I took a day off in the hope that I might see a few emerging hibernators.

It was slow going at first...an hour in Dan-y-graig cemetery surprisingly drew a blank, and it was ironic that I had to go to work (or at least to the car park) to see my first butterfly of the day - a Small Tortoiseshell, pottering around the celandines and dandelions on the bank of the stream that runs through the wild areas a few hundred yards from my workplace:

2STort(1).jpg


This area is always good for early spring Torties...I think they're attracted by the strong nettle growth that can be found here:

2SwanseaVale(1).jpg


By midday, I left to go to Morrisons, but on the way I spotted a male Brimstone fluttering around the shrubs on the roadside, so once I'd done my shopping I thought I'd pay a visit to Oystermouth Cemetery in Mumbles given there was no sign of the predicted gathering cloud. It proved to be a good decision. The lowest part of this site is extremely well sheltered, almost a natural bowl. There were two Peacocks here, and a couple of times they jousted with each other, spiralling upwards before coming down in much the same place:

2OC2(1).jpg


2Peacock(1).jpg


I walked up the hill, pausing briefly to admire this beautiful early March scene:

2OC1(1).jpg


Something then caught my eye, and I knew by the flight and by the light tone it was a Comma. It came down on a grave and spent about 10 minutes there:

2Comma(1).jpg


2Commauns(1).jpg


I walked around the perimeter of the cemetery, where from the highest point there is a nice view towards Mumbles Head:

2View(1).jpg


It was then back down to the sheltered area, where a Small Tortoiseshell was fluttering about, along with another Comma and one of the two Peacocks seen earlier:

2STort2(1).jpg


So, one of those delightfully cathartic days that one can only have at this time of year. By the time I left at 2.40pm it was still sunny and 14 degrees!!

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bugboy
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Re: David M

Postby bugboy » Thu Mar 09, 2017 7:40 pm

Great stuff David, it was very frustrating being at work today knowing there would be loads of emergents out and about posing for everyone. The one silver lining is I work mostly outside so I managed a couple of sightings at least :)
Some addictions are good for the soul!

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Re: David M

Postby PhilBWright » Thu Mar 09, 2017 8:09 pm

Good to see your day off was worth it, David, :D
Kind Regards,
Philip

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David M
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Re: David M

Postby David M » Fri Mar 10, 2017 6:56 am

Thanks, guys. In many ways, the first warm day of spring is the best of the year and it certainly was well worth the day's annual leave!

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SimonC69
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Re: David M

Postby SimonC69 » Fri Mar 10, 2017 7:56 am

Nice one. If that shot of the peacock was one of mine, it would almost certainly be appearing again over the winter in the favourites thread ;)

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Neil Freeman
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Re: David M

Postby Neil Freeman » Fri Mar 10, 2017 7:11 pm

bugboy wrote:Great stuff David, it was very frustrating being at work today knowing there would be loads of emergents out and about posing for everyone. The one silver lining is I work mostly outside so I managed a couple of sightings at least :)


This...only in my case I was stuck in the office so I am still not off the mark.

Glad to see your day off was worthwhile David :D :mrgreen:

Cheers,

Neil.

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Re: David M

Postby Chris Jackson » Sat Mar 11, 2017 7:26 pm

David M wrote:[b]Thursday 9th March 2017 - Action at last....!

A very respectable haul, David. Worth taking the day off for. You wouldn't have done any better in the South of France.
Chris
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Re: David M

Postby Padfield » Sat Mar 11, 2017 8:13 pm

I love cemeteries, David. Good company (silent but wise) and usually a few nectar-hungry butterflies on a sunny day, thanks to acts of floral remembrance.

Up in my mountain I've still only seen two species - a few small tortoiseshells and a peacock. I know you read my diary regularly and see stuff from the valley, but on my local patch I am still well behind you.

Guy
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David M
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Re: David M

Postby David M » Sun Mar 12, 2017 12:09 pm

Padfield wrote:I love cemeteries, David. Good company (silent but wise) and usually a few nectar-hungry butterflies on a sunny day, thanks to acts of floral remembrance.

Up in my mountain I've still only seen two species - a few small tortoiseshells and a peacock. I know you read my diary regularly and see stuff from the valley, but on my local patch I am still well behind you.


Yes, I enjoy the restful tranquility of a cemetery, Guy - no dogs or kids racing around or loud voices to be heard. The very nature of these places also means that certain areas are allowed to grow wild in a way that wouldn't occur elsewhere. Butterflies clearly appreciate this...in fact, the other Swansea cemetery I regularly visit is the only place near me I know of where you can watch Wall Browns ovipositing - they are attracted by the long grasses amongst the gravestones!

Regarding your own local patch, you may well be behind at the moment, but you will race ahead in no time at all. Of that I'm sure. :)

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David M
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Re: David M

Postby David M » Sun Mar 26, 2017 6:54 pm

Near perfect weekend.....

It’s not often you get a full weekend with hardly a cloud in the sky worthy of the name….much less during the month of March.
After the lovely spell a fortnight ago, are we risking becoming spoiled?

Saturday 25th March – Castle Meadows, Abergavenny

Domestic commitments meant I couldn’t get out till almost 1pm, but my frustration soon gave way to near total contentment during my hour and a half’s wander round Linda Vista Gardens and the adjacent Castle Meadows.

Probably the most notable moment was the sighting of my first Small White of the year. Thankfully, the cuckoo flower has already come out and this female spent a few minutes nectaring from one:

1SmWhite(1).jpg


The first of the 25 Small Tortoiseshells seen was just beyond this particularly attractive spot in these ornate grounds:

1LVG(1).jpg


Many more were observed cavorting around the nettle growth near the stream that runs through this site:

1STort(1).jpg


This stretch is always popular with them. The stream is just to the right of the fence meaning the nettles are always well watered and consequently grow most vigorously:

1Cast.Mdws.nettles(1).jpg


9 Commas were seen, including these two in much closer proximity than is usual:

1Commax2(1).jpg


These two, however, didn’t like one another’s company at all and provided several aerial skirmishes for my delectation:

1Commafight(1).jpg


I especially like the darker undersided individuals with that Verdigris sheen:

1Commauns(1).jpg


Four Peacocks were about too:

1Peacock(1).jpg


I tried for 10 minutes to get an underside of this individual but it insisted on keeping its wings slightly open:

1Pckuns(1).jpg


Sunday 26th March – Kilvey Hill, Swansea

Just as sunny today but a fair bit windier, so in the main I kept to the sheltered path at the bottom of Kilvey Hill. This place is a real heat trap and butterflies are irresistibly drawn to it:

1KilveyHill(1).jpg


I saw a male Brimstone before I was out of my car. It may well have been the same one I encountered half an hour later after doing a quick circuit of Dan-y-Graig cemetery, where my only sightings were 2 Commas and another Brimstone. Few things are lovelier than a spring Brimstone….but one thing lovelier is a spring Brimstone on a spring Primrose:

1Brimstone(1).jpg


To my great delight, I saw at least 2 male Holly Blues. I spent considerable time on the track near the evergreens they favour, and eventually one came down just in range of my camera:

1HollyBlue(1).jpg


The biggest surprise came late on, just as I was about to leave. A butterfly caught my eye fluttering weakly, and after a while it made a second flight whereupon it landed and briefly flashed its wings open:

1SpWood(1).jpg


This is only the second time I’ve seen a Speckled Wood in March, and without doubt the first time I’ve seen 7 different species during a March weekend! Hopefully this is a good omen, although the last time we witnessed these early emergences, April proved to be a washout and the butterflies never really recovered.

Let’s hope it’s different this time.

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Re: David M

Postby millerd » Sun Mar 26, 2017 8:41 pm

That's quite a selection David. No whites and Specklies down my way yet... :)

Dave

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Re: David M

Postby trevor » Sun Mar 26, 2017 8:49 pm

Spring has caught up with you at last, David.
That really is a fabulous haul for a weekend in March !.
Three mrgreens for you, one each for Holly Blue, Brimstone and Speckled Wood. :mrgreen: :mrgreen: :mrgreen:

Great stuff,
Trevor.

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David M
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Re: David M

Postby David M » Tue Mar 28, 2017 8:51 pm

Thanks, guys. Early days yet but the long range weather forecast doesn't appear to hold any cause for worry, so perhaps we'll finally get the break we've been looking for these last few years.

Fingers crossed.

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Goldie M
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Re: David M

Postby Goldie M » Wed Mar 29, 2017 9:04 am

Some great shots there Dave , not seen Holly Blues here yet and the weathers broke down but at least that East wind's gone. Goldie :D

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Re: David M

Postby Janet Turnbull » Wed Mar 29, 2017 4:29 pm

What a great haul you had! Lovely shots too. I have seen one Brimstone and 6 Small Tortoiseshells so far - although it was a sunny weekend we're that much further north.

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David M
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Re: David M

Postby David M » Thu Apr 06, 2017 10:15 pm

Thursday 6th April 2017 - Met Office should be ashamed....

Even last night as I was going to bed, the Met Office AND BBC weather forecast for Wales were predicting heavily overcast conditions throughout today.

In the event, there was barely a cloud to be seen all day in the Swansea area, and I took it upon myself to throw my camera in my car and make a detour to Kilvey Hill at lunchtime.

I saw two male Large Whites, the first of which came down on a bramble leaf in an inaccessible place so I had to settle for a record shot:

1LgeWhmale(1).jpg


Speckled Woods were easily the commonest species, with well over a dozen seen:

1SpeckWd(1).jpg


Here's an image of the clear blue skies that were not predicted even 8 hours prior to daybreak (Mumbles Head in the distance taken from Danygraig cemetery):

1DYGC(1).jpg


Several Holly Blues were again seen, including my first female of 2017. I also saw 2 definite Small Whites along with a possible GVW which I won't count given that it didn't settle and I can't be absolutely sure. Two male and a female Brimstone were also observed.

However, a brief sortie into the wild areas behind my workplace finally saw me break my Orange Tip duck, with at least two seen. Both were flighty though, as you would expect, and this image was the best I could manage:

1OT(1).jpg


Vanessids seem to have practically disappeared already. The only member of this group I saw was a solitary Peacock.

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Re: David M

Postby essexbuzzard » Sat Apr 08, 2017 9:31 pm

To my mind, Met Office and BBC have come a long way in forecasting rain and wind, but still have a long way to go in predicting cloud amounts.

Some nice sightings and pictures though, so I'm sure you don't mind them getting it wrong this time!

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David M
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Re: David M

Postby David M » Sun Apr 09, 2017 8:01 am

Saturday 8th April 2017 – Extraordinary scenes….

Still a bit early for the likes of Grizzled Skipper and Green Hairstreak here in south Wales, so I thought I’d pay a visit to the dunes at Whiteford Burrows on the north west Gower coast to see if any Small Coppers were about.

Sadly, I saw none, and in fact I was a bit disheartened in the hour or so I spent combing the coastal gullies as I probably saw fewer than 20 butterflies in total, although I did get my first audience with a female Orange Tip for the year:

1OTfem(1).jpg


This Peacock basking on the warm sand also proved irresistible, and is in excellent nick given it is probably at least 9 months old:

1Peacock(1).jpg


By 1pm, I was heading back to my car with a view to checking out Kilvey Hill again, when suddenly I saw a White come down on the copious blackthorn blossom near the path. This turned out to be my first definite Green Veined White of 2017:

1GVW(1).jpg


I had noticed three or four Holly Blues pottering about by the entrance to the dunes, which I thought was unusual, and after taking the GVW image, I noticed another Holly Blue buzzing around the blackthorn. I trudged through the spiky undergrowth and suddenly I was in a different world.
This area was in a warm dip and the woodland management team had obviously done recent clearance work. The result was spring butterfly heaven:

1Hotspot(1).jpg


My Green Veined White took my UK tally to 11 for the year, but I could have saved myself time and trouble because ALL ELEVEN were present in this one small area. The most notable was Holly Blue. This is, for me at least, a butterfly that you usually see in small numbers, but there were dozens of them in this spot. There were often four or five in the air at once above this stretch of blackthorn, and all those seen nectaring appeared to be males:

1HB(1).jpg


I looked beyond this area to try to comprehend what was going on, and it became clear that the evergreen in this image was their focal point:

1Evergreen(1).jpg


There were serious numbers tumbling about this tree, and on the other side there were even more flying about, often making sorties close to the ground, bringing them into contact with the dozens of Speckled Woods also present in this clearing:

1Glade(1).jpg


Two Commas and two Red Admirals were seen in this spot, unsurprising given the lush nettle cover:

1RedAd(1).jpg


Eventually, I just went back to the blackthorn stand, and spent a good hour watching all these species interact with one another. The Brimstones didn’t settle, but Orange Tips did:

1OTmale4(1).jpg


1OTmale3(1).jpg


Overall numbers were:

Holly Blue 40-60
Speckled Wood 40-60
Orange Tip 30-40
Brimstone 10-20
Large White 2
Green Veined White 2
Peacock 2
Comma 2
Red Admiral 2
Small Tortoiseshell 2
Small White 1

Without doubt, it was the finest concentration of spring species I’ve ever witnessed, and most certainly the best Holly Blue hotspot I’ve ever come across.


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