July Sightings

Discussion forum for sightings.
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Matsukaze
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Re: July Sightings

Postby Matsukaze » Thu Jul 08, 2010 10:11 pm

Jack

The blue has lost enough scales and in such a pattern that it might just resemble arion in flight.

millerd
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Re: July Sightings

Postby millerd » Fri Jul 09, 2010 7:16 pm

Went to Black Park in Buckinghamshire today. Plenty of White Admirals and Silver-washed Fritillaries, but no sign of the Purple Emperor seen here a few days back. However, I saw my first new season Brimstone, and spotted a Comma laying eggs on nettles - many of which had little hope of survival because the plants were so dried up. I spoke to a very nice lady and her husband, who directed me to a White Letter Hairstreak spot in nearby Iver. I duly found the site at around 1300, and spotted two, perhaps three, up in the shrubby elms. One came down a bit, but resolutely sat on the topside of the foliage - I could see its outline through a leaf. My only (distant) photo was of it peeping over the edge, just before it took off for who knows where.

Dave
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WA4 resized.jpg
Brimstone1 resized.jpg
Comma egg resized.jpg
WLH resized.jpg

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Jack Harrison
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Re: July Sightings

Postby Jack Harrison » Fri Jul 09, 2010 8:56 pm

Matsukaze:
The blue has lost enough scales and in such a pattern that it might just resemble arion in flight.
I could only wish it were arion in Cambridgeshire! The Chalkhill Blues gave it a cursory look and then quickly moved on.

Jack

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David M
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Re: July Sightings

Postby David M » Fri Jul 09, 2010 10:52 pm

Unlike the south east of the country, the weather here is SE Wales is pretty ordinary. This morning was overcast and it was only after seeing a positive forecast at midday that I decided to take a chance on visiting Old Castle Down, near St Brides Major in Glamorgan.

http://www.valeofglamorgan.gov.uk/livin ... oject.aspx

I'm very glad that I did, as it was a trip that afforded me a better understanding of the word 'serendipity'.

I arrived at 1415. The skies were grey and the temperature a mere 20C. Climbing the north side of the down immediately realised a High Brown Fritillary, and in spite of the dull conditions there were plenty of Ringlets, Meadow Browns and Small Heaths on the wing.

After seeing a few more Fritillaries on the top, it started to drizzle and it took 15 minutes to clear. However, the result of this was that normally skittish DG and HB Fritillaries were much subdued, to the point where I was able to do something I never thought possible - scoop a Dark Green Fritillary up into my hands and observe it whilst it was as docile as it can ever be.

For half an hour or so, I disturbed several Frits whilst walking through the grass. All fluttered around for a few seconds before alighting in the bracken sheltered scrub, giving me excellent photo opportunities.

I continued to explore the site and by 1615 the sun finally radiated through, and Frit activity rose by several notches. The sheltered east side of the Down became awash with these insects, particularly in the dip between the main path and the tree cover. I remained there until 1745 (three and a half hours in total) and given the fact that for the most part it was a dull and cloudy afternoon, the species and numbers return was extremely satisfactory:

1. Ringlet 70-100
2. Meadow Brown 50-75
3 & 4 Dark Green/High Brown Fritillary combined 60-75 (I positively identified 12 Dark Green and 9 High Brown - i.e a 4:3 ratio)
5. Green Veined White 25-40
6. Small Heath 15-20
7. Large Skipper 13
8. Small Pearl Bordered Fritillary 5 (mostly very worn)
9. Small Tortoiseshell 4
10. Hedge Brown 1
11. Speckled Wood 1
12. Small White 1
13. Comma 1
14. Small Copper 1
Old Castle Down.jpg
Overcast conditions at the site proved to be helpful
HB1.jpg
High Brown taking nectar
HBF3.jpg
Closer view of HBF
DGF 1.jpg
Dark Greens seemed to favour the more open areas
DGF 3.jpg
Damp weather kept them subdued
HBF underside.jpg
Underside shots aren't easy. You can just see the ocelli on this one.
HBF and DGF heaven.jpg
This was the area which they seemed to prefer to occupy.
Comma 1.jpg
Even Commas were approachable in the overcast conditions
SPBF.jpg
Believe it or not, this was the LEAST worn of the 5 SPBFs that I saw!
ST 1.jpg
Beautiful fresh Tortoiseshell


Some observations:

*Dark Green Fritillaries seem to have more intense black markings than High Browns.

*Correct me if I'm wrong, but the ground colour in High Browns is of a richer orange/brown than that of Dark Greens

*Dark Greens sometimes have silvery-white markings within the 'V' area of the outer forewing tips

*Dark Greens have slightly more rounded forewings and look a bit more streamlined

*High Browns seem to prefer the sheltered spots more than Dark Greens

*Dark Greens are more prone to settle in open grassland than High Browns, the latter being more inclined towards nectar sources and sheltered spots

I'm happy to be corrected by those better qualified, as this is the first time I've ever seen these two species simultaneously. The above is merely a resumé of the subtle differences I saw this afternoon.

One thing's for sure, neither of these species is up for settling with its wings closed to give enthusiastic but rank bad amateurs like me an easy time with identification. The good news though is that High Browns are definitely common on this site (if we assume 3 in 7 are HB out of today's 70-odd individuals seen, then on a pretty poor day weatherwise, 30 or so High Brown Fritillaries have been active within the area studied, meaning that it's not unreasonable to postulate that the entire site could support well into three figures).

As a footnote, I'd like to thank Jonathan Evans (another member of this site) for giving me feedback on his experiences here recently. He was absolutely right. The main hub of activity was just to the west of a wooded gully on the north east side of the site. I hacked my way through a path that can only have been maintained by sheep as the vegetation was chest high in most places. Still, it was a very rewarding experience as there can be few places within these islands where one can reasonably expect to see, on a given July day, large numbers of Dark Green and High Brown Fritillaries flying happily together. I personally won't forget it.

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Jack Harrison
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Re: July Sightings

Postby Jack Harrison » Sat Jul 10, 2010 6:26 am

David M:
.... Old Castle Down, near St Brides Major in Glamorgan....

That’s an extremely comprehensive and useful report of your observations. Many thanks. The site is now on my “wish list” as being probably the nearest HB Frit site to where I live; I am already making plans for 2011.

But tell me please David. How easy is the access, the walking and steepness of the slopes? I’m not all that good nowadays on steep slopes (Collard Hill being about my limit).

And being an Englishman, would I need a passport? :D

Jack

Piers
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Re: July Sightings

Postby Piers » Sat Jul 10, 2010 6:54 am

Jack Harrison wrote:And being an Englishman, would I need a passport? :D

Jack

No Jack, just a superior attitude... :lol:

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Jack Harrison
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Re: July Sightings

Postby Jack Harrison » Sat Jul 10, 2010 9:37 am

10th July South Cambridgeshire (Great Chishill)

Female Silver Washed Fritillary, some distance from nearest known colonies.
Image
Image
More later when I write up my diary.

Jack

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David M
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Re: July Sightings

Postby David M » Sat Jul 10, 2010 10:15 am

Jack Harrison wrote:David M:
.... Old Castle Down, near St Brides Major in Glamorgan....

That’s an extremely comprehensive and useful report of your observations. Many thanks. The site is now on my “wish list” as being probably the nearest HB Frit site to where I live; I am already making plans for 2011.

But tell me please David. How easy is the access, the walking and steepness of the slopes? I’m not all that good nowadays on steep slopes (Collard Hill being about my limit).

And being an Englishman, would I need a passport? :D

Jack


To be honest, Jack, the walk up the northern slope is fairly steep (not ridiculously so though, and there are a number of tracks so I reckon you'd be able to zig-zag your way up).

Once at the top, the slopes are fairly benign and you'll have no difficulty whatsoever as there are wide grassy pathways where people walk along with numerous tracks through the scrub that are probably more commonly trodden by the fair number of sheep present on the site.

Here are a couple of pictures of what the terrain is like on the top:

http://www.pontarddulaiswalkingclub.com/145_4584.JPG

http://www.pontarddulaiswalkingclub.com/100_3723.JPG

PS: Whisper it quietly, I'm an Englishman too!

hammer
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Re: July Sightings

Postby hammer » Sat Jul 10, 2010 2:39 pm

A visit to Fermyn wood. 9-7-10 and 9-7-10. Many purple emperors were out in force in the morning just did not know which one to photo, i was spoilt for choice, at one point we had five flying around our feet. quite a few dark white admirals too, a female silver washed frit and numerous white letter hairstreaks.
_MG_6311.JPG
_MG_6327.JPG
_MG_6287.JPG
_MG_6357.JPG
_MG_6189.JPG
comma aberration

selbypaul
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Re: July Sightings

Postby selbypaul » Sat Jul 10, 2010 4:17 pm

selbypaul wrote:
AndrewP wrote:Hi,

Jack Harrison was asking about Lindrick Common. I visited the site this morning and the drak green fritillaries, marbled whites and silver-studded blues were out in profusion. What a fantastic sight, even if they were introduced. They seem to be self-sustaining colonies.

The site is a rough meadow which can be accessed by parking further west than was mentioned by selbypaul. There is a wood with a track at SK541827. There is space to park 3 or 4 cars at the end of the track. Then walk north and take the track right - the meadow is immediately east of the wood (and north of the A57).

Andrew



Cheers Andrew
Your tip is much appreciated. If the weather is good on Wednesday or Thursday, I'll pop back to try and see the Silver Studded Blue.
Paul


Went back to Lindrick Common on Thursday morning to the location Andrew recommended. Even though the sun was only weak at the time, butterflies were out in profusion. Most common species was the Marbled White. In a very small 10 metre square section I must have seen about 20. The meadow area is around ten times that size, and I didn't need to go further, so I imagine there literally must have been hundreds out.

Next most common was the Dark Green Fritillary. Most were looking surprisingly battered, very unlike the fresh looking ones I'd seen in the Lake District only 6 days earlier. They also looked smaller, but not sure if that was just an impression rather than a fact.

The Silver Studded Blues also looked quite battered, but again there were lots of them, around 15 in the small section.

Finally, I also saw my first Gatekeeper of the season. Would definately reccommend the place to anyone who has not been before

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David M
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Re: July Sightings

Postby David M » Sat Jul 10, 2010 4:39 pm

After yesterday's 110 mile round trip, I stayed closer to home today, visiting Ewyas Harold Common, which is just over the English border near Pontrilas. This was a sizeable site with an interesting mixture of grassland, heathland, marshy areas, light woodland and a dedicated butterfly meadow (which at the moment is full of knapweed).

http://www.butterfly-conservation.org/t ... shire.html

The sign at the entry to the site claims that 34 different species are to be found here. I'm not sure about that, but it is supposedly a place where Pearl Bordered Fritillaries and Green Hairstreaks are found (will check that out next May). The bracken covered slopes are ideal Fritillary country, and there are many sheltered dips and troughs providing good cover for butterflies.

The main problem for me was that finding the butterfly meadow was quite difficult. The meadow is only small and there are so many tracks it's like going through a maze. I finally found it after 2 hours, though that sadly coincided with the sun packing up for the day. Nonetheless, butterfly numbers were again pretty good:

1. Ringlet 80-120
2. Meadow Brown 70-100
3. Marbled White 25-35
4. Green Veined White 15-20
5. Small Tortoiseshell 10
6. Comma 5
7. Speckled Wood 5
8. Dark Green Fritillary 4
9. Small Skipper 3
10. Red Admiral 3
11. Common Blue 3 (must be 2nd brood, as all were fresh)
12. Small Heath 2
13. Hedge Brown 2
14. Small White 2
15. Peacock 1 (hurray, first one since mid May)
16. Small Copper 1

Common Blue female.jpg
All three CBs seen (2 f, 1 m) looked very fresh
DGF Female.jpg
The knapweed and thistles were irresistible to this female DGF
DGFs interacting.jpg
Male DGF spotted the female in the thistle patch
Marbled White feeding.jpg
Quite a few of these today
Small Copper with blue spots.jpg
Small Copper with blue spots

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Ian Pratt
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Re: July Sightings

Postby Ian Pratt » Sat Jul 10, 2010 9:36 pm

I decided after work yesterday to visit Shalcombe Down in the west of the Isle of Wight as dark green fritillaries have been seen there regularly. I set myself a target of 12 species in about an hour which I had.
The weather was very warm and sunny and the views splendid.
I saw the following:
DGFs 4
common blue 3
brown argus 3
marbled white 10 +
large white 1
g-v white 3
comma 1
red admiral 6
meadow brown 10 +
large skipper 2
small blue 1 (first time seen at this site!)
peacock 1
white admiral 1
small heath 3
speckled wood(?) 1
ringlet 4
Total 16 species :D
Plus magpie moth and several hawkers.

Earlier in the day in the fields near home I had seen:
small tortoiseshell 5
gate keeper 3
essex skipper 1
small skipper 1
small white 1
Also in the garden at work:
Holly blue 1
Day total 22 :D

Had I had time I could have seen the sw fritillaries at Walters Copse Newtown on the way home!
Quite a good day.
Attachments
01-Pratt-Ian--P1020432.jpg
Magpie moth
01-Pratt-Ian--P1020408.jpg
Brown argus
01-Pratt-Ian--P1020426.jpg
Dark green fritillary
01-Pratt-Ian--P1020391.jpg
The Isle of Wight at its best (inland)

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Perseus
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Re: July Sightings

Postby Perseus » Sun Jul 11, 2010 5:50 am

Hello,

It is so humid and energy sapping, I have just put my latest sightings on my web page:

Adur Butterfly & Large Moth List
http://www.glaucus.org.uk/Butterfly-list2010.html

This includes my first Chalkhill Blue and unsuccessful attempts to see a Purple Emperor. I am downs person really and woods are full of biting insects.

This year is noted for the prevalency of Ringlets seen in greater numbers in familiar places (not many) and appearing where they have not been seen before.

Cheers

Andy Horton
glaucus@hotmail.com
Adur Valley Nature Notes
http://www.glaucus.org.uk/Adur2010.html
Adur Valley Nature Notes: July 2010
http://www.glaucus.org.uk/July2010.html
Sussex Downs Facebook Group
http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=111843132181316

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Perseus
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Re: July Sightings

Postby Perseus » Sun Jul 11, 2010 5:54 am

Hello,

10 July 2010
Southwater is on clay just about on the head waters of the western River Adur, and really outside the remit of this web page. However, Southwater Woods is famous for the Purple Emperor, Apatura iris, so in the warm of the north Sussex sunshine we visited this private wood. The idea is that you look up into the canopy of the Oak Trees to see of you spot this "mysterious" butterfly through your binoculars. Before, I got my binoculars out I spotted a very large brownish butterfly underneath an Oak leaf high in a large "Master" tree. The underside of this butterfly is brownish, but so was it the White Admiral or a Purple Emperor?. It was the only possible sighting during the day. It would have been good to see one but it was not on my list of "musts" so I thought I would enjoy the wood which I had not been to before.
Purple Empire


Photographs (poor) on the web page
White Admiral
Silver-washed Fritillary

Silver-washed Fritillaries (30+) were frequently seen, always on the move, but eventually I found one that landed on a Bramble flower. White Admirals (15+) were frequent as well most of them flying beneath the canopy but one or two descending to ground level, but there were not many nectar plants on the woodland rides. Other butterflies in the wood were frequent Speckled Woods (12+), frequent Meadow Browns, occasional Ringlets, occasional both Small Skippers and Large Skippers, a few each of Green-veined Whites, Large Whites and Gatekeepers.
Later in the afternoon, by the River Adur at Shermanbury a Marbled White was added to the liist of butterflies seen during the day.


Adur Butterfly & Large Moth List
http://www.glaucus.org.uk/Butterfly-list2010.html

Cheers

Andy Horton
glaucus@hotmail.com
Adur Valley Nature Notes
http://www.glaucus.org.uk/Adur2010.html
Adur Valley Nature Notes: July 2010
http://www.glaucus.org.uk/July2010.html
Sussex Downs Facebook Group
http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=111843132181316

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Jack Harrison
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Re: July Sightings

Postby Jack Harrison » Sun Jul 11, 2010 9:37 am

David M:
.... Old Castle Down, near St Brides Major in Glamorgan....
Thanks for the reply but I'm still not entirely sure from the maps exactly where you start the flog up the hill and where the best spots might be; it looks rather a large site so would be easy to get it wrong.

Jack

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Zonda
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Re: July Sightings

Postby Zonda » Sun Jul 11, 2010 2:34 pm

First two Gatekeepers this season at Abbotsbury today. Returned home, and two more in garden. Must try to get good shots of those, as last year i had an abb. male in the garden. :D
Cheers,,, Zonda.

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Rebecca
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Re: July Sightings

Postby Rebecca » Sun Jul 11, 2010 2:58 pm

I popped over to Babcary meadows this morning. If its marbled whites you want to see then babcary meadows is the place to go!

Meadow browns 300+
Ringlets 300+
Marbled whites 200+
small coppers 5
common blues 20+
large skippers 3
brimstone 1
Comma 1
small white 2
large white 11
small blue 2

Also saw quite a few six spotted burnet moths and dragonflies the size of sparrows!
Attachments
pair of ringlets.jpg
pair of common blues.jpg
Sorry its sideways :o/
marbled white.jpg
common blue.jpg
comma.jpg

flitterby
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Re: July Sightings

Postby flitterby » Sun Jul 11, 2010 3:44 pm

Has anyone else seen a butterfly similar to a marbled white, with paler markings, this year? A whole field of them have been spotted in Sussex, close the coast, where a lot of butterflies (huge numbers of Painted Ladies and Clouded Yellows in previous years) fly or are blown across the sea especially in hot summers.

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Jack Harrison
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Re: July Sightings

Postby Jack Harrison » Sun Jul 11, 2010 4:41 pm

11th July
Local and garden south Cambridgeshire. No excitement today like the fritillary of yesterday.

Huge numbers of Ringlets, Meadow Browns are much better now (including females – illustrated)
Image
but Gatekeepers are still in single figures. Numerous Small Whites and some Green-veined. A handful of Small Skippers.

Then it clouded up and drizzled; I went home. The sun quickly came out again but I didn’t bother to return to the meadows. (Too much sport on TV)

In the garden, three Tortoiseshells absolutely adored the Hebe (and ignored the Buddleia). I can thoroughly recommend the larger hebes for any garden.
Image
Several times recently I have noticed Tortoiseshells entering the open garage, presumably investigating hibernation sites. Conventional wisdom is that only the second brood (August/September) hibernates but this might be incorrect.

Jack

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Michaeljf
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Re: July Sightings

Postby Michaeljf » Sun Jul 11, 2010 5:04 pm

Trying to follow the best of the weather, we had a very busy weekend.
Still trying to top my views of the Purple Emperor (got the spelling right now, maybe) we nipped off to Bookham Common Surrey ('nip' is probably the wrong word, going from SE Wales to Surrey). I've been interested in going to Bookham for some time, as I come from Surrey but never visited it while I lived there. Anyway, got there just after 9:00 am and saw a lot of Silver-Washed Fritillaries, White Admirals, Ringlets and some newly emerged Gatekeepers and Commas as well as the odd Peacock. No sign of the Purple Emperors though we did find one of the 'master' trees near the Hundred-pound bridge car-park. It was nice to see the woodland had so many spots for the wild flowers and there had been some clearing below the Emperor Tree.

Then went over to see the Silver-Studded Blues at Fairmile Common (near Cobham). The temperature was now about 30 degrees and although the butterflies were about in good number there were a number of slightly 'taggy' individuals and the sun had obviously sent the majority of the blues into sun-drenched madness. They rarely stopped and a few swear words were used! :wink: There were also qute a few Small Coppers around. After a quick coffee in Cobham we went back to Bookham Common and saw up to 3 Purple Emperors in flight - but only around the tops of the trees. No chance of them coming down. The conversation from locals is that they have been coming into the Pound car-park late in the day, but that didn't seem likely so we went home. There were also several Purple Hairstreaks at the edge of the wood.

Sunday (today) we went to the Alun Valley site at Old Castle Down (David went a couple of days ago). We've visited the site before but never quite in peak season for the High Brown Fritillaries. Not that 'peak season' means much if the sun doesn't shine. Anyway, the short of it is that there were at least 7 High Browns passing through (by my count) and one female Dark Green Fritillary. Most of the species mentioned by David were flyng through. There were also a nice load of Cinnebar moth caterpillars near at the top of the reserve. I have to say that the work done by the locals on this spot is superb, as we know how management needs to be done properly to allow HB to survive and thrive. :)


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