David M

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millerd
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Re: David M

Postby millerd » Mon May 15, 2017 9:33 pm

A very nice Small Heath, David - and your Walls from earlier were exceptional, especially the mating pair with onlooker! :) I do envy you easy sightings of this species, one I took for granted in my youth (long time ago...). :mrgreen: :)

Dave

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David M
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Re: David M

Postby David M » Mon May 15, 2017 10:45 pm

millerd wrote:...your Walls from earlier were exceptional, especially the mating pair with onlooker! :) I do envy you easy sightings of this species, one I took for granted in my youth (long time ago...)


I'm old enough to remember that too, Dave. :(

These days, they're hard work to find away from the coast. Even in Swansea which has miles of beaches you need local knowledge.

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David M
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Re: David M

Postby David M » Sat May 20, 2017 11:17 pm

Saturday 20th May 2017 - Risks pay rewards.....

With the weather forecasts constantly changing, I had promised my neighbour a trip to Rodborough Common in Gloucestershire this weekend last Thursday.....before predictions of cloud and rain for Saturday morning materialised. :(

Rain and cloud till noon with conditions gradually improving was the advice first thing in the morning, so I bit the bullet and for once, that advice proved accurate.

Arriving around 11am, skies were heavily overcast with occasional rain showers. I managed to find a roosting Small Heath but my neighbour trumped me shortly afterwards with this roosting Duke of Burgundy:

1DoBuns(1).jpg


Little else was seen until skies began to brighten around 2pm, whereupon butterflies began to come to life. The hotspot on this site yet again proved productive with another three or four Dukes seen at the bottom of this steep bank:

1Hotspot(1).jpg


Understandably, three weeks or so into their flight period, these combative little insects are beginning to show signs of wear (no doubt due to the constant battles not only with their own kind but the myriad of other species that are equally attracted to this sheltered haven):

1DoBupps(1).jpg


In spite of the challenging conditions, upwards of two dozen Brown Argus were seen:

1BrArgus(1).jpg


Dingy Skippers were plentiful too, certainly 15+ observed. However, I was keeping a sharp eye out for freshly emerged Adonis Blues, and the patience and hard work paid off, as two were seen and the second individual in particular provided good views as regular cloud cover ensured he remained fairly docile:

1Adonisupps(1).jpg


1Adonisuns(1).jpg


With ever brightening skies, it was hard to leave this place, but by 3.45pm, we made our way back to the car with one last look at this magnificent butterfly habitat:

1View(1).jpg


Totals seen in predominantly difficult conditions were:

Brown Argus 25-35
Dingy Skipper 15-25
Small Heath 10-15
Duke of Burgundy 4-6
Small Blue 3
Common Blue 2
Green Hairstreak 2
Adonis Blue 2
Large White 1
Peacock 1

millerd
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Re: David M

Postby millerd » Sun May 21, 2017 7:00 pm

Not a bad selection at all for a superficially grotty day weatherwise. Splendid Adonis in particular, David. :)

Dave

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bugboy
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Re: David M

Postby bugboy » Sun May 21, 2017 8:14 pm

Ooooh yes, that Adonis looks like it's been plugged into the mains!
Some addictions are good for the soul!

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Neil Freeman
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Re: David M

Postby Neil Freeman » Mon May 22, 2017 6:56 pm

Great report and photos from Rodborough Common David...I have not been there for a few years now, I must try and fit a visit in sometime.

Cheers,

Neil.

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David M
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Re: David M

Postby David M » Mon May 22, 2017 9:26 pm

bugboy wrote:...that Adonis looks like it's been plugged into the mains!


I like that, Bugboy. In fact, I often describe the Adonis as a 'radioactive' blue to the uninitiated, as it seems to radiate from elsewhere rather than from the butterfly itself. They really are indescribably beautiful when absolutely fresh.

Monday 22nd May 2017 - Local delights....

On Sunday, I visited Welshmoor, a damp, grassy expanse of land about 5 miles from where I live. I duly saw a handful of early Marsh Fritillaries, and I chanced upon 2 or 3 more on Fairwood Common at the back of Swansea airport this afternoon, which is on my doorstep:

1MarshFritWelshmoor(1).jpg


Today though, I was concentrating on Small Pearl Bordered Fritillaries, as the section of marshland I visited has reliably thrown up a few over the last four years.

Sure enough, there were at least two about:

1SPBFupps1(1).jpg


Part cloudy conditions helped, as these insects weren't quite as hyperactive as is usual:

1SPBFuns2(1).jpg


This individual wasn't in a hurry, and instead seemed content to gorge on nectar from both ragged robin and cuckoo flower blooms, at one point being virtually buried:

1SPBFburied(1).jpg


Not many other species seen, and they all seemed to turn up in twos: Small Heath, Common Blue, Large White & Green Veined White. A late Orange Tip was also seen on the drive back home.

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David M
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Re: David M

Postby David M » Sat Jun 17, 2017 8:32 pm

Saturday 17th June 2017 - Double Header

With highs of 25c forecast along with sunny skies, it was incumbent upon me to spend the entire day in the field! I had promised my neighbour a trip to Daneway Banks in Gloucestershire, and we duly arrived at 10.15am and spent a good three hours there taking in the scenery, the flora and, of course, the butterflies.

My first Ringlet of 2017 greeted me shortly after entering the site:

1Ringlet(1).jpg


My first Marbled White soon followed:

1MarbWhite(1).jpg


Meadow Browns abounded, as did Large Skippers:

1LgeSkipper(1).jpg


We DID see a solitary Large Blue at the top of the site, but the warm weather meant it stayed airborne and no sightings were made in the hour that followed. I got talking to the transect walker, who had commented that 11 had been seen yesterday, and I had all but resigned myself to leaving with just a fly by to report.

However, my neighbour opted to take a rest on a wooden seat to the right of this image:

1Daneway(1).jpg


I took time out to potter around on the middle section of the site, where I noticed two guys taking lots of photos near the barbed wire fence. Sure enough, when I got to them, they had a male Large Blue, but too far away to get a decent image of. I somehow got my body over the fence but no sooner had I taken a single record shot, the butterfly was off. I followed it, and suddenly another paler Large Blue (a female) joined it in flight. For the next minute or so, these two whizzed about one another in a frenzy:

1LgeBluecourtship(1).jpg


The male must have done all the right things, because seconds later they decided to pair:

1LgeBluepair2(1).jpg


Three blokes kneeling in the turf soon attracted an audience (for the mating Large Blues I should point out):

1LgeBlueaudience(1).jpg


On a hot day, this is probably the only opportunity available to see this species becalmed, and becalmed they remained - we watched them for a good 20 minutes before leaving them to it:

1LgeBluepair3(1).jpg


Seeing that it was en route, we decided to stop off for a couple of hours at Lower Woods, near Wickwar, on the way back. Four Silver Washed Fritillaries were seen, although none were very co-operative from a photography perspective:

1SWF(1).jpg


The only down point of the day was the absence of White Admirals, which probably haven't quite emerged yet. Still, we saw a surprise Brimstone as well as this Comma:

1Comma(1).jpg


18 species in total, including mating Large Blues, meant this gorgeous day of sunshine and warmth will remain memorable. Let's hope this run of weather continues!

kevling
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Re: David M

Postby kevling » Sun Jun 18, 2017 6:53 am

David,

Well done on getting your Large Blues. Nice photos of your day out. What a cracking days weather for butterflying :D

Regards Kev

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Goldie M
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Re: David M

Postby Goldie M » Sun Jun 18, 2017 2:50 pm

That's one species I've yet to see David, lovely shots :mrgreen: :mrgreen: Goldie :D

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David M
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Re: David M

Postby David M » Sun Jun 18, 2017 7:50 pm

Sunday 18th June 2017 - Time out...with a little butterflying thrown in....

After yesterday's almost oppressive heat, I headed off to the Pembrokeshire coast today where temperatures where forecast to be a bit cooler. I had promised a work colleague a stress-free day out, and that's ultimately how it proved, although the forecast of 21c highs were so inaccurate that at one point I ended up seeking relief by swimming in the sea!

I reckon 26 or 27c was the order of the day - it certainly felt as though I was in France.

Strangely, Common Blues aside (which were ubiquitous) there weren't that many butterflies about. Sometimes though, that gives you time to concentrate on the surroundings:

1Habitat1(1).jpg


1Habitat2(1).jpg


There are times when I read UKB reports and forget that the season is much more retarded in SW Wales, and today was one of those. Despite quite a bit of searching, I could only find two male Silver Studded Blues, which was a shame, as in a week's time there'll probably be dozens about but they will have to contend with the usual cloud, wind and regular rain:

1SSBupps(1).jpg


1SSBuns1(1).jpg

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David M
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Re: David M

Postby David M » Tue Jun 20, 2017 3:31 pm

Tuesday 20th June 2017 - Fritillary-fest...

The hot, sunny weather (27c) today was perfect to see fritillaries active along Old Castle Down in Glamorgan, but would be a poor choice for those wishing to get close to and photograph them!

I'd heard reports they were out in numbers and those reports weren't false - certainly 50ish were observed, and one would expect at least 20 of those to be High Browns!

I latched onto this Dark Green Fritillary shortly after arriving on the site just before 10am, and it's a good thing I did, because I never got another chance to to take an image of a settled specimen:

1DGF(1).jpg


I tried a bit harder with the High Browns, but most efforts were from distance:

1HBF2(1).jpg


Even when I got fairly close there was usually something in the way:

1HBF2a(1).jpg


This one nectaring in the semi-shade was probably the most presentable:

1HBF1(1).jpg


Perhaps more surprising were the numbers of Small Pearl Bordered Fritillaries still on the wing. I'd estimate the total at 20-25, which I wasn't expecting:

1SPBF(1).jpg


Lots of Ringlets, Small Heaths, Large Skippers and Meadow Browns, and a few Speckled Woods in the shadier areas. Three Red Admirals showed up, along with a Small White, a Common Blue and my first UK Painted Lady of 2017:

1PLady(1).jpg


I'm hopeful High Browns might have an excellent season on this, their last remaining Welsh site. This spell of warm weather has fallen at just the right time for them, and although the forthcoming weekend is back to cooler and cloudier conditions, I may well drop back in to see if I can get a closer audience with them as well as the Dark Greens.

Pauline
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Re: David M

Postby Pauline » Tue Jun 20, 2017 3:38 pm

My turn now to dish out the :mrgreen: The High Brown is another butterfly I'll probably never see but what an attractive underside it has - and you show that off well despite 'something being in the way' :D . Sounds like a great day :D

trevor
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Re: David M

Postby trevor » Tue Jun 20, 2017 5:20 pm

Great to see your High Browns, David. A species that would be a ' lifer ' for me.
I understand that they were once seen locally in East Sussex.
Now alas, the remaining colonies are many miles from here.

Great photo's in the circumstances,
Trevor.

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Andy Wilson
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Re: David M

Postby Andy Wilson » Tue Jun 20, 2017 6:52 pm

Hi David. Great photos of the High Browns -- a whole lot better than what I got at Heddon Valley. Sorry I couldn't be with you today.

Kind regards,
Andy.

millerd
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Re: David M

Postby millerd » Tue Jun 20, 2017 9:36 pm

I do envy you your closeness to a HBF site, even if they weren't playing ball today. :mrgreen: I've only seen them in Devon and Cumbria - a bit more than a day trip! Nice shots, considering the conditions, and some additional envy for three Fritillaries in one place. :mrgreen: :)

Dave

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David M
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Re: David M

Postby David M » Wed Jun 21, 2017 10:49 pm

Wednesday 21st June 2017 - Patience stretched....

I suppose in retrospect it wasn't a great decision - let's take a day off and go studying Large Heaths in 28c temperatures!!

In an attempt to ensure things didn't spiral out of control, I arrived at Cors Caron, in mid-Wales, just after 9am, believing that I might get half an hour or so where the butterflies were relatively subdued.

The activity level of the Ringlets, Small and Green Veined Whites on the path leading into the reserve were a warning sign though, and in an hour and a half, I only saw three of the 46 individuals I counted come to rest. These were the best images I could muster of this polydamus form:

1LgeHeath1(1).jpg


1LgeHeath2(1).jpg


I stopped off near Llanelli on the way back, to check out a site where there are plenty of elm trees, as I know of nowhere near to me where White Letter Hairstreak can reliably be found.

To my joy, there were several dozen elms, most of them healthy and mature, so I will return to see if WLH's are about periodically. None were seen today, but this hutchinsonii Comma was found resting on one of the elm trees:

1Comma(1).jpg

kellmeister
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Re: David M

Postby kellmeister » Thu Jun 22, 2017 8:23 am

David M,

The photos are all so stunning and your ability to find even the rarest beauties is truly so inspiring. I am getting more and more fascinated with these beautiful creatures which must surely be the most divine life form in the air. Thanks for the inspiration, your eye, your capture and your knowledge.

thank you so very much, :D

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David M
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Re: David M

Postby David M » Thu Jun 22, 2017 10:41 am

Why thank you, Kellmeister.

Bugboy - I believe the cooler, cloudier conditions this weekend should make you more determined to visit Whixhall Moss. I visited 2 years ago in very cloudy weather but there are so many Large Heaths present on this site you are bound to disturb some, whereupon they will be far more co-operative than the Welsh ones were for me yesterday (plus, you'll have the davus form, which is the more striking).

Wurzel - This weekend or the next are probably the only ones where you'll see good numbers. By 8th/9th July I suspect they'll be on their last legs.

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David M
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Re: David M

Postby David M » Mon Jun 26, 2017 10:18 pm

Monday 26th June 2017 - Doing justice locally.....

I couldn't travel far today given my impending trip to the French Alps, but prior to my departure I had a couple of 'itches' I wanted to scratch.

The first was at Loughor, about 10 miles from my house, where I found an elm copse the other day. I duly travelled down there again this morning and can confirm that White Letter Hairstreaks ARE present at this location. :)

There are several dozen elms here, many of them mature, and this time I tried to put myself into the head of a WLH to determine where they might be likely to hold court. An elm at a crossroads, facing an ash, in full sunlight proved to be a good choice as several were observed, some in the elm canopy, others pottering around the upper reaches of the ash (which is the tree on the right of this image):

1Habitat(1).jpg


Unfortunately, they remained in the canopy the whole time, in spite of there being copious bramble flowers nearby, which often attract this species down at other sites. I managed to get one of the dozen or so I saw in my zoom though, even if it's as bad an image as I've ever posted on here (and there's a fair bit of competition for that prize):

1WLH(1).jpg


A Speckled Wood kept me company all the while, continually fluttering around the brambles I wished the WLHs would descend to. This individual was abnormally scantily marked too:

1SpWd(1).jpg


After lunch, and with cloud cover moving in, I decided to pay another visit to the High Brown site at Alun Valley, near Bridgend.

On the way up the hill, I took my first 'proper' image of a Large Skipper this year:

1LgeSkipper(1).jpg


I then noticed something I don't see too often - a mating pair of Ringlets in the long grass:

1Ringletpair(1).jpg


Once finished, the female decided to take a rest for a few minutes:

1Ringletfemale(1).jpg


As far as the Fritillaries are concerned, there were literally dozens observed. Two Small Pearl Bordereds were still on the wing, but the rest were either High Brown or Dark Green. The latter are starting to lose their lustre now, making in flight identification rather easier. When by the shrub line, the majority seemed to be HBFs, including this female:

1HBFfem(1).jpg


This male was momentarily feeding:

1HBFmale(1).jpg


In the more open areas however, Dark Greens were in the ascendancy:

1DGF(1).jpg


1DGF2(1).jpg


As 6 o'clock approached, activity died down, but these two species seem to be having a good year in 2017 at this site, which is very welcome.


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