millerd

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David M
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Re: millerd

Postby David M » Sun Oct 29, 2017 10:18 pm

millerd wrote: ....you mentioned surprises, David... Today's unexpected sighting was that of a male Small White, doing its best to make its way between dandelions.


I'll accept that as a 'surprise', Dave, though not on the scale of fresh male & female Holly Blues at this time of year.

Next month will challenge the established theory on surprises though. Once we get beyond Bonfire Night I will readily recognise any butterfly other than the adult hibernators as somewhat unusual, particularly in view of the forecast frosts were about to experience.

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Andrew555
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Re: millerd

Postby Andrew555 » Mon Oct 30, 2017 12:58 pm

Nice to still see Dave, no butterflies on my lunch break stroll today at work in Redhill, Comma and Speckled Wood last week.

Cheers

millerd
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Re: millerd

Postby millerd » Mon Oct 30, 2017 5:24 pm

You're right, Buggy - that Red Admiral has some faint blue spots and qualifies for your specially named aberration! :) I don't think it's the same one as before, but it's a bit worn and difficult to tell.

The Small White was a bit unexpected, David - I don't think I've seen one this late before. Not the impact and charisma of a Holly Blue, though! :)

Thanks, Andrew - keep looking, they are probably hiding somewhere. :)

Monday 30th October: There was some wet ice on the car windscreen first thing this morning as forecast, with the air temperature around 4 degrees at around 8 o'clock. However, there was lots of sunshine and no wind, and things warmed up a bit by late morning. Once again the Red Admirals were well spread out and in fact the total today was sightly higher than yesterday with a dozen seen. There are no longer any brand new examples, and some are getting really worn - not surprising considering some of the aerial battles I've witnessed recently.
RA1 301017.JPG
RA2 301017.JPG
RA4 301017.JPG
RA5 301017.JPG
RA8 301017.JPG
RA9 301017.JPG
RA10 301017.JPG
There were still a couple of Commas too.
Comma1 301017.JPG
Comma3 301017.JPG
I also came across yet another Holly Blue, but I failed to spot it down on the ground, promptly disturbed it, and sent it flying high into a willow where it resolutely stayed. Hopefully it won't go far. I have had some amazing luck with them recently, so I can't really complain. :)

I noticed yesterday, and again today, that one or two of the Red Admirals were flying low over the nettlebeds. Though they never stopped longer than a second or two, this looked suspiciously like egg-laying behaviour and I investigated further.
nettles1 301017.JPG
nettles2 301017.JPG
Only a minute or two searching part of the nettle patch produced results - two tiny green eggs laid on leaves not far apart.
RA egg1 301017.JPG
RA egg2 301017.JPG
I imagine there could be quite a few more, though what future they have is debatable. I will keep an eye on them and look for others. Red Admirals are known to have managed to go through the winter as caterpillars in sheltered spots, so who knows?

Even at this time of year, there is always something of interest to inject some life into the season! :)

Dave

essexbuzzard
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Re: millerd

Postby essexbuzzard » Mon Oct 30, 2017 7:09 pm

Interesting observation and behaviour, Dave. I wonder how this works, as presumably those nettles will be killed by the first air frost? Perhaps the caterpillars will wander off, and find a mild sheltered site, where the nettles will survive and the larvae can slowly develop through winter. :?

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Neil Freeman
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Re: millerd

Postby Neil Freeman » Mon Oct 30, 2017 7:12 pm

Hi Dave,

Your wet ice on the car windscreen at 08.00 this morning was a lot harder on mine here at 06.00 when I went off to work with the temperature on the car display showing 1 degree.

Good to see you still have plenty of action going on down there with great reports and photos to brighten up a cold dark evening :D

Cheers,

Neil.

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bugboy
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Re: millerd

Postby bugboy » Mon Oct 30, 2017 7:39 pm

I had an afternoon wander around Epping Forest today, didn't see a single butterfly even though it felt almost springlike in the sun.
Some addictions are good for the soul!

millerd
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Re: millerd

Postby millerd » Tue Oct 31, 2017 10:08 pm

Thanks, Essex. I can't see those eggs having much of a future to be honest. Though that location is sheltered and south-facing, you are absolutely right that a sharp ground frost (let alone an air frost) will polish off those tender young nettles. Any caterpillars would have to walk a fair way to find better shelter. However, there is the saying "never underestimate a butterfly" so you never know! I shall keep an eye on things. :)

Thanks, Neil. :) I think there will be more chilly nights next week too, even if there is sunshine as well.

That seems surprising, Buggy - was there no ivy still flowering? You'd have expected a Red Admiral or a Comma...

Tuesday 31st October: Unlike the last three Hallowe'ens, which have been warm (even very warm) and sunny, today was blessed with very hazy sunshine at best, though it was up to 14 degrees this afternoon. Finding butterflies was a struggle, but I managed to spot half a dozen Red Admirals, three of which were high up on some ivy in a sheltered nook I hadn't really noticed before.
RA1 311017.JPG
RA2 311017.JPG
I also chanced upon a single rather sleepy Comma.
Comma2 311017.JPG
ya-a-a-wn....
Comma3 311017.JPG
ZZZZZZZ

So concludes a remarkably full October. I saw butterflies on 25 out of 31 days, and might well have done on two other days if I hadn't been stuck in the car. Altogether I have seen 14 different species on my local patch this month, with (making no allowance whatsoever for repeats!) a total of 480 individual butterfly sightings: of these a remarkable 317 were Red Admirals. To be fair, retirement has allowed me to head out almost every day, but the weather has been kind too - there has been very little rain here, any strong winds have been generally overnight or have missed us, and it's been reasonably warm and quite sunny.

Now let's see what November brings... :)

Dave
Last edited by millerd on Tue Oct 31, 2017 11:36 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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bugboy
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Re: millerd

Postby bugboy » Tue Oct 31, 2017 10:37 pm

That's one hell of a total even accounting for repeat sightings! Also that latest Comma is a fine looking chap, the forewing scallop looks particularly deep.
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bugboy
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Re: millerd

Postby bugboy » Tue Oct 31, 2017 11:04 pm

I was just browsing through Red Admiral Ab descriptions for no particular reason and found that Ab. 'buggeri' is a synonym for an already described ab merryfieldoides... oh well.
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millerd
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Re: millerd

Postby millerd » Tue Oct 31, 2017 11:41 pm

I feel your name for the ab. slips more sweetly off the tongue, Buggy - merryfieldoides is a bit of a mouthful... :) Of course, if one name is used more commonly it may become the accepted version. :wink:

(PS: I've had to update the numbers in the post above - they weren't high enough! My spreadsheet (yes, sad isn't it) had failed to add in the results for 2nd October.)

Dave

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Andrew555
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Re: millerd

Postby Andrew555 » Wed Nov 01, 2017 8:10 am

I will keep looking Dave, there is actually a nature reserve nearby, lunch time walks can be very pleasant :)
An amazing tally, still thinking about those Holly Blues :D

Cheers

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Wurzel
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Re: millerd

Postby Wurzel » Wed Nov 01, 2017 10:07 am

Mighty impressive totals for a month that some write off :shock: :D

"Of course, if one name is used more commonly it may become the accepted version. :wink: " If only it worked that way Taxonomy wouldn't be such a headache/mess :roll:

Fingers crossed for some November butterflies :D

Have a goodun

Wurzel

millerd
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Re: millerd

Postby millerd » Wed Nov 01, 2017 9:58 pm

Thanks, chaps. October has been very productive, and now... here's looking at November! :)

Wednesday November 1st: A lovely day, sunnier and warmer than yesterday (16 degrees at least), and in the middle of the day between about 1100 and 1400, the butterflies appeared. There were a couple of Commas, but both were sitting wings closed for some reason (as one did yesterday).
Comma1 011117.JPG
Comma3 011117.JPG
Red Admirals appeared of course, with perhaps seven seen altogether - though these three shots may well be of the same individual!
RA1 011117.JPG
RA2 011117.JPG
RA6 011117.JPG
As ever, standing still in the sun right in the middle of a territorial patrol zone produces a predictable bit of behaviour. :)
RA7 011117.JPG
RA8 011117.JPG
More interestingly, I watched a female over the nettle beds again and tried to pinpoint where she had been sitting.
RA3 011117.JPG
Sure enough I found two more freshly laid eggs - once again these were on small plants very close to the ground.
RA egg1 011117.JPG
RA egg2 011117.JPG

As I made one last tour of the area, I spotted a silvery flash on one of the remaining dandelions - a Holly Blue. There was only one brief opening of the wings, revealing another new female butterfly.
HB1 011117.JPG
She hopped from flower to flower (there is little else on offer now but dandelions), and then suddenly set off to bask high up in the trees.
HB2 011117.JPG
HB3 011117.JPG
HB4 011117.JPG

She was still a lovely sight for a November outing.
HB5 011117.JPG

Dave

trevor
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Re: millerd

Postby trevor » Wed Nov 01, 2017 10:33 pm

It would seem that there are a few sites producing Holly Blues at the moment.
One has been seen at High and Over ( not by me ), and the one today at Shoreham.
I wouldn't have thought Shoreham was typical habitat for them.
Great to see your examples, forgot to award your female image a mrgreen :mrgreen: .

All the best,
Trevor.

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Wurzel
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Re: millerd

Postby Wurzel » Wed Nov 01, 2017 11:37 pm

Those Holly Blues really are hanging on this year Dave :shock: she looks wonderfully fresh as well :mrgreen:

Have a goodun

Wurzel

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David M
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Re: millerd

Postby David M » Thu Nov 02, 2017 12:27 am

I'm running out of adjectives to describe all these late season Holly Blues you're seeing, Dave. Even more amazing is the sight of one nectaring on a dandelion! I've certainly never seen that before.

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Andrew555
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Re: millerd

Postby Andrew555 » Thu Nov 02, 2017 11:35 am

Fantastic Dave, and great shots too :D

Cheers

millerd
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Re: millerd

Postby millerd » Fri Nov 03, 2017 3:55 pm

Thank you, Trevor - I was equally :mrgreen: of your Painted Lady... :)

Thanks, Wurzel - somehow I think that there won't be many more this year, as there are some chilly nights ahead shortly. :(

Thank you, David. Dandelions are pretty well all they have left to feed on now - you're right though, it's a first for me with a Holly Blue. :)

Thanks to you too, Andrew - it's great to have the season extending into November. :)

After yesterday, when the cloud arrived the moment the fog lifted (unlike down on the south coast by all accounts :) ), the clearance appeared at midday-ish, allowing perhaps an hour or two of warm sunshine before low cloud and more fog, plus the low height of the sun, put paid to any activity. As it was, two Red Admirals were active in the nearest part of my local patch, a couple of minutes from home. One was quite worn...
RA1 031117.JPG
... but it was soon displaced by another much newer individual which was flying around energetically between basking sessions at a nice height on the trees.
RA2 031117.JPG
RA7 031117.JPG
RA3 031117.JPG
RA5 031117.JPG
RA6 031117.JPG
This one cannot have been more than a day or two old.

How long will they keep going? It's going to rain properly tomorrow for the first time in quite a while, followed by some frosty nights. We shall see...
RA7a 031117.JPG

Dave

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Re: millerd

Postby essexbuzzard » Fri Nov 03, 2017 6:56 pm

You female holly blue definitely gets a :mrgreen: from me!

After the rain, cold sunshine is predicted for next week. I saw a Red Admiral feeding in sun at just 5 degrees this week, so I expect sightings to continue for another week or two, provided it is not too windy.

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Wurzel
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Re: millerd

Postby Wurzel » Sat Nov 04, 2017 10:56 pm

I was speaking to my cat's Vet (Ronniethepoo) and he saw a Red Admiral at around 8am on Friday when it was only about 5-6 degrees so possibly the Red Admirals will carry on for a bit yet...so long as it's not to their detriment then that would be great :D Great set of shots especially the third one, that's a belter :D :mrgreen:

Have a goodun

Wurzel


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