Wurzel

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Re: Wurzel

Postby Wurzel » Thu May 03, 2012 10:24 pm

Just so I don't get beaten to the post by Mark... :wink:
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Female St Mark's fly - no head (as it doesn't have spy out a mate or rivals to fend off) and dark wings...

Have a goodun

Wurzel
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Re: Wurzel

Postby Wurzel » Thu May 03, 2012 10:35 pm

Back to a proper post...

Two days ago (Tuesday) we experienced another sunny afternoon here in Salisbury so as soon as I got home and the kids were in bed I headed up the garden. No joy on the butterflies but it was just nice to mooch about, see what there was to see and enjoy the evening sun warming my back. If only we had a few more nights like that...
The first things I encountered were a pair of Nomada goodeniana and as I was watching them a crab spider appeared before me. Unlike the sublimely coloured yellow one that was hanging out on the Dandelions this one stood out like sore thumb, being all pink and on a white flower. As I watched it backed away over the edge of the flower and then lay in wait in the shade, clinging to the underside of the flower.
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There were a few bees around including Osmia rufa. I think this individual is a male dure to the much longer antennae.
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There was also this fly around and about on the ivy.
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Warmed by the final rays of the sun I headed back in but stopped half way down when there was a high pitched buzzing I checked the fence. A quick glance told me it was an Ashy Mining Bee but it didn’t seem right, the posture was all wrong? When I looked closer it quickly became apparent why it looked wrong, as the legs of a garden spider curled slowly the black and white hairy body. It was one of those times when I felt bad about having to just impartially observe nature unfolding before me. But that is the way it has to be so I left the spider to it’s meal and headed in doors to get mine.
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Have a goodun

Wurzel
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Re: Wurzel

Postby Wurzel » Fri May 04, 2012 10:21 pm

Two days ago (Wednesday) I stopped off on the way home to check out some parts of Salisbury Plain that I can easily access. Unfortunately while other areas were enjoying the sun we were “enjoying” much cooler temperatures and a thick covering off medium level cloud. Still you never know... So I set off walking across the grasslands and while there weren’t any butterflies around there were huge numbers of St Mark’s flies. Having managed to get up close to some I was staggered by how huge their eyes are, almost the whole head appears to be compound eyes! I later found what I initially thought was a different species of fly only later did I discover that this is actually the female. Not only are they slightly bigger and have smoky coloured wings they large the monstrous optics of the male. This sexual dimorphism it seems is caused due to their different approaches to sex. The male actively seeks out females to mate with and rival males to fight off hence the huge eyes to spot out targets for mating/fighting. Whereas the female is happy to wait for the attentions of males and so doesn’t need such powerful vision.
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male
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male
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female (again)

I then left the natural world behind and entered the domesticated world...Kids feed, bathed, stories read (they love “Where’s my cow?” at the moment), younger one tucked up and older one at Rainbows, I took a quick stroll around Five Rivers. It seemed strange to be walking around in the early evening, and even stranger to feel colder here in May than when I visited in March! Still it did feel warmer than it had been all day, and a 6:30pm the sun actually came out and there were, shock horror, blue skies!!! Unfortunately it was too little too late and I didn’t see one butterfly. Still I made up for it by finding a bench overlooking the river and enjoying the sound-scape. It was one of those still evenings where sounds seemed to travel like smoke, drifting towards you. Amongst some chat and scuffling from the allotments, the odd dog bark and crunch of the joggers on gravel there were warblers aplenty. First up was the flutey tones of the Blackcap, then the more garbled Garden Warbler (I know it was because I managed a brief glance of this totally non-descript LBJ. There was an explosive “dink, dink-dink, dink-dink-dink-dink-dink-dinkkkkk of a Cetti’s Warbler along with churring and babbling from both Reed and Sedge Warbler. Despite straining my ears I couldn’t find a Gropper instead settling for the scolding churrs of Whitethroats. One of which let me get almost within touching distance.
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Blackcap
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Whitethroat

So no butterflies but a well needed break...this popping in between Rainbows is something I’ll have to do again when there might be some butterflies around...

Have a goodun

Wurzel
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Re: Wurzel

Postby Wurzel » Sun May 06, 2012 10:15 pm

Today I took Kitty to Bentley Wood in desperation for Pearl Bordered Fritillary. We arrived just before lunch and it was not looking promising. For an hour we mooched around the Eastern Clearing but it was cold. Occasionally the sun would attempt to burn away the cloud and it would start to feel warmer, a few bees would come out, but then the sun would disappear and the wind would whip in to remind how cold it actually was. Despite several pairs of eyes, including those of Rob S and Jenks no Pearls were found...
As we ate lunch back in the car park the sun appeared again, there was some blue sky and we decided to give it another go...
Back at the clearing we suddenly found a lep, one of those long horn moths, then another an unknown moth
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I’d just remarked that I actually cast a shadow and it seemed noticeably warmer when a cry of “WURZEL” rang out across the site. We hurried across the cleared area, sticking to the rabbit paths to avoid the boggy areas, to find Rob S staring at the ground and the little ginger jewel that we’d come to see. It looked very fresh, without a mark on it. 1-0 to Rob S.
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After getting a few shots it fluttered a short way before landing on a Bluebell. At first it was content to show us its’ backside, then it’s wings wide open before finally closing up shop so we could get that classic Pearl Bordered shot, pearls on display and the large single white “window”.
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As always seems the way once you’ve found one, others seem to follow and this was no different, but on the other side of the path it was my second ever Duke of Burgundy! For an age it sat there wings open wide, sunning itself. It gave me a chance to try out the Butterflies App that Pete and Guy were involved in. In the end we settled for female.
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As this was my second ever I stayed for a while and eventually it closed it’s wings revealing the 3 pairs of legs, confirming that it was a female.
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After having my fill of the Duchess I took to strolling some more and found my very own Pearl, the equalizer 1-1. There was some red liquid on the surrounding stems which suggested that this was only just emerged. Closer inspection showed that its’ wings weren’t properly dry yet and were still slightly crumpled.
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This told the story, we were witnessing an emergence event. And there just over the way was my second self found Pearl, 2-1 to Wurzel...
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But Rob then drew...2-2, looks like it could go to penalties...
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Rob S was in again, but this individual had previously been something’s lunch, so we called it a draw in the end. Heading back the sun warming all the time I glanced what I thought was another Pearl out of the corner of my eye, but it was just a similar coloured leaf – I really have got to stop reading “Dazzled and Deceived” I’m seeing mimicry everywhere.
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Once back in the car park I’d just started to write in the sightings book and was leaving directions for Jenks when he arrived back from Martin Down. I hope he found them. Tomorrow will bring family duties so little chance of butterflies but today will keep me going for at least a fortnight! :D

Have a goodun

Wurzel
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Re: Wurzel

Postby ChrisC » Sun May 06, 2012 11:32 pm

my initial thought was Spruce carpet for your moth.

glad you had a good day, has sounded like you have needed one :)

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Re: Wurzel

Postby nfreem » Mon May 07, 2012 2:02 pm

Hi Wurzel,

Nice report and cracking photos :D
I am glad you managed to have a good day, you have certainly done better than I have managed to do lately.

Cheers,

Neil F.
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Re: Wurzel

Postby jenks » Mon May 07, 2012 7:36 pm

Hi Wurzel,

yes he did find the PBF and the Duke of B !! Thanks for the map and directions by the way. Rob S was still there to add extra guidance. I think I saw 5, possibly 6 PBF in the hour from 16.00 to 17.00, just the 1 D of B. Martin Down between 12.30 to 15.00 produced 4 possibly 5 Grizzled Skippers, all in the area of the old gun emplacements, on the leeward side of that and between Bokerley Ditch where it was warmer and sheltered, and 2 Peacocks. So, after a disappointing morning a good end to the day.

Always good to meet other UKB members, look forward to meeting you again.

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Re: Wurzel

Postby Wurzel » Mon May 07, 2012 9:31 pm

Cheers for the ID Chris, I definitely needed to get out, I've been like caged animal all week!

Cheers for got your kind comments Neil. We're currently getting half a decent day a week down here in Salisbury so you have to try and make the most of it when it comes. But it's got improve soon and then we'll all be out with butterflies everywhere wondering what all the worry was for (fingers crossed).

Alright Jenks? I'm glad the Pearls were still around and the Duke too. Likewise it was good meeting other UKButterflies members and looking forward to seeing you out and about again!

Have a goodun

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Re: Wurzel

Postby Wurzel » Wed May 09, 2012 9:58 pm

Yesterday couldn’t have been more different than today...
Eventually the weather was warm and sunny for pretty much the whole day, but judging by what we’ve been having recently I wasn’t about to take any chances and therefore got outside wherever possible, you have to make the most of it at the moment because you don’t know how long it will last!
During the lesson before lunch I clocked a white butterfly in the quad, watched and waited for the bell and then rushed out and managed to get a few snaps. It turned out to be a female Orange-tip. Getting butterfly photos is a bit like waiting for buses; for the last 2 and a bit years I’ve been trying to get the wide open wing shot of a female Orange-tip and after finally succeeding recently, now all female Orange-tips display themselves in this fashion!
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After waiting for the customary 25 minutes of lunch time which meant that no pupils wanted help with revision I nipped up the field. There a Peacock decided to give me a bit of a run around, much to the amusement of the neighbouring Primary School staff, and in the end I gave up the chase. The huge row of Hawthorns along the field yielded not one Green Hairstreak, not that I expected them too (although it would have been nice!), but there were what seemed like thousands of St Mark’s flies, as well as a few bees lurking around the pile of dead vegetation. Later during free lesson I took 10 minutes out to look in on the “wildlife” area which yielded a bee mimicking Hoverfly, but no butterflies.
On the journey home I saw 2 male Orange-tips, Brimstone and a (Small?) White and once home I rushed up the garden as a White was flitting around the Apple blossom. Unfortunately no matter how much I stood on tip-toes or strained my neck it remained too high and obscured to get a positive id. No matter it would soon be time for tea so I headed back in when Blue took off from the ground. I thought that it might be a Common Blue, but when it landed in the Ivy I knew at once that it was Holly Blue.
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Meal over and kids tucked up I took full advantage of the nice weather and headed for a brief visit to Five Rivers. I wasn’t expecting anything – possibly a White – I went more for the warbler songs than anything else. They certainly didn’t disappoint with 9 different species of Warbler all singing (still no Gropper though) with a Cuckoo joining in on the refrain! Background music taken care of I ambled along the sunlit banks scanning left and right when a moth caught my eyes. At first I thought Mother Shipton, but the pattern was more blocks than stripes and curves? I approached closer and it became immediately apparent that it was in fact a Grizzled Skipper, holding it’s forewings back “moth” style.
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I can’t believe it, my own little Local Patch has it’s own Grizzled Skipper. To my knowledge they haven’t been recorded here before! Photos taken and feeling elated I carried on along the bank when I spotted another one! One Grizzled Skipper could have been a fluke – but does two make a colony? I hope so, my own self found Grizzlies -now I know how Lee felt.
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More photos taken I mooched some more, checking dead stems but the cloud had covered the sun by now and it felt decidedly chillier so homeward I headed. If we get some good weather again then I’ll be back to check on my charges, I feel strangely paternal towards them.

Have a goodun
Wurzel
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Re: Wurzel

Postby Lee Hurrell » Thu May 10, 2012 12:30 pm

Wurzel wrote: my own self found Grizzlies - now I know how Lee felt

It feels good doesn't it?

Congratulations on finding them, Wurzel, I look forward to hearing about thier exploits.

Best wishes,

Lee
To butterfly meadows, to chalk downlands and to leafy glades; to summers eternal.
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Re: Wurzel

Postby David M » Thu May 10, 2012 3:33 pm

Excellent find, Wurzel. Hope you get chance to do a proper search when the weather improves.
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Re: Wurzel

Postby nfreem » Thu May 10, 2012 5:43 pm

Excellent find Wurzel, and cracking photos too :D

Cheers,

Neil F.
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Re: Wurzel

Postby NickMorgan » Thu May 10, 2012 6:52 pm

Well done Wurzel. A good find. I bet that brought you a lot of joy. I would settle for any butterfly just now!!
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Re: Wurzel

Postby Wurzel » Sat May 12, 2012 7:02 pm

Cheers Lee, Dave and Neil I had a brief check last night but I couldn't locate a single Butterfly but I'll
check again in a day or two.
Sorry to rub it in Nick...

Have a goodun

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Re: Wurzel

Postby Wurzel » Sat May 12, 2012 10:55 pm

With the weather finally improved, the girls with their grandparents and my wife shopping all day with her sister I made the most of it and headed out for the day. I was aiming to find Dingy Skipper and Green Hairstreak so I headed out towards Martin Down but somehow I ended up at Coombe Bisset Nature Reserve.
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As I drove up the hill one or to whites passed down the along the banks almost to greet me. So I parked and then headed back down the road. Over the next 30 minutes I walked up and down the road scanning the banks and enjoying seeing more than just one or two species. Here there was male and females of Orange-tip, Brimstone, Large, Small and Green Veined White as well a Peacock and Holly Blue. Not a bad haul before I’d even entered the reserve!
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Once in I set off down the down with another Brimstone for company. It wasn’t until I reached the bottom that the grass thinned out looked much closer cropped. I was just thinking this looks about right for Dingy when I spotted one feeding on a Dandelion.
I managed to get closer and then it was off, hurtling and jinking left and right.
For the next hour I patrolled this small little area and found what I think were 3 individuals at least.
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There was also a Grizzled Skipper present and at one point it got into a bit of a scuffle with one of the Dingy Skippers - clash of the titans it wasn’t more like “duel of the diminutives”.
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One target down I wandered back up the Coombe with the odd Dingy and Grizzlie to add to the tally and once back at the car park a flash of blue caught my eye so I followed it along the hedge where it meet another blue and they spiralled together up and up eventually splitting apart – so two males? I followed what I thought was the original blue and it came across a different individual and repeated the spiralling but this time they both landed and the female quivered her wings. After a brief mating they split and landed on separate branches. Luckily for me the male landed low enough for me to get a few shots and he even obliged me by opening his wings slightly.
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From there I headed on to Martin Down...but I haven’t even looked at the 250+ photos I took there yet so I’ll have to leave it there for now...

Have a goodun

Wurzel
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Re: Wurzel

Postby Wurzel » Sun May 13, 2012 9:36 pm

After the success at Coombe Bisset I headed over to Martin Down and made my way around the scrub near to the main car park. I’m pretty sure I saw a Green Hairstreak but it was gone in a flash so to be fair I can’t count it. I started off back at the little alcove where I found my first Grizzlies this year. It proved to be a prime location again as there was a female Holly Blue down nice and low showing off her wings.
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Also in this area were Grizzled and Dingy Skippers and after getting a few photos of one or two individuals I set off to check around some more. I couldn’t believe the numbers – they were everywhere after 6 or 7 steps another little brown or grey job would whizz off jinking left and right never to be seen again.
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Occasionally they would stay still and then when I approached closer I could see why – they would be locked together mating. :oops:
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In the end I put the camera down sat on the spongy ground, let the sun heat my back and just watched the spectacle in miniature.
When I regained track of time I set off checking every Hawthorn that I came across. I little further round from my start point something orange caught my eye. I approached cautiously and found my first Small Copper of the year, then a second which let me get even closer. I don’t think I’ve found them this fresh before?
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Kitts Wood just over the other side of the road from Martin Down proper is a mixture of mature hedgerows and cleared wood land and feels a bit like a maze at times. I wandered round, checking every Hawthorn I could see but no Green Hairstreaks. On my meanderings I did find a Peacock, 2 male Orange-tips, singles of Grizzled and Dingy Skipper and a pair of Brimstone. However as I hadn’t conclusively seen my target number two it was back to the car and onto the final place I could think of to try...
Still at Martin Down I tried the Sillens Lane end. This has produced Green Hairstreak a couple of times two years ago and also my only Green Hairstreak of 2011 so I was hoping for third time lucky! I set off along the track heading for where it bisects the ditch. Along the way a female Brimstone kept flitting just in front of me, landing for a fraction of a second and would then continue on her way. I presume she was laying eggs but she would always take off just as I’d focused on her. There was also the occasional Dingy baking on the track or mud puddling. Once at the site I walked around every checking every Hawthorn, scanning and hoping for an emerald glint as a male left to check his territory but to no avail. Eventually I decided that enough was enough and started to make my way back towards the car when I noticed that there was a female Brimstone (the same one from earlier?) flitting around small Hawthorn shrubs. She wasn’t as flighty and seemed to be taking her time so I managed an approach and my earlier assessment of her behaviour was affirmed as she ovi-posited.
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On the journey back to the car there were more Dingy Skippers, a Holly Blue and a Comma, just out of reach on some bramble in the hedge.
The final butterflies of the day were a pair of Orange-tips along the lane. They seemed to be courting but then quickly went their separate ways. So no luck with the Green Hairstreaks again. I really need to find a more reliable Green Hairstreak site and time is running out this year...but despite this still a cracking day! :D 8)
Have a goodun

Wurzel
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Re: Wurzel

Postby David M » Sun May 13, 2012 10:35 pm

Quite a day, Wurzel, by the sound of it. Like you, I'm still struggling to meet up with Green Hairstreaks. Sadly, the weather next week is turning cooler (12-14c) so it looks like the wait will continue. :(
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Re: Wurzel

Postby hideandseek » Sun May 13, 2012 10:46 pm

Hi Wurzel,

Thats a lovely photo capturing the female Brimstone ovipositing, well done.

All the best,

Nick.
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Re: Wurzel

Postby Pauline » Mon May 14, 2012 5:33 am

I second that Wurzel - and your earlier Brimstone photo was lovely too.
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Re: Wurzel

Postby nfreem » Mon May 14, 2012 9:18 pm

Wurzel wrote: I really need to find a more reliable Green Hairstreak site and time is running out this year...


Hi Wurzel,

I wouldn't worry just yet, they are only just starting to put in an appearance at some sites in the midlands, very late compared to last year.
I saw my first ones at Prestbury Hill yesterday and apparently they have not been out long there either.

And some great photos you have got there :D

Cheers,

Neil F.
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