August 2011

Discussion forum for sightings.
millerd
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Re: August 2011

Postby millerd » Sat Aug 13, 2011 7:51 pm

An unexpectedly sunny lunchtime saw me pottering round the local patch by the M25 - plenty of Common Blues (many of them female), Brown Argus, Small Heaths, Speckled Woods, Gatekeepers and Small and Green-veined Whites. A couple of Red Admirals and a Holly Blue too. Encouraged by the sunshine I then went off to Denbies, remembering that a major cycle race was going to close the relevant bit of the A24 tomorrow.

I arrived at the same time as the cloud, but it was warm and not too breezy, so I decided to have a look at all (well, some :) ) of the roosting butterflies to see whether there were any unusual or even aberrant individuals. I wasn't disappointed - there are selection of Chalkhills below. Despite seeing quite a few male Adonis as well, I didn't any that appeared at all unusual. Apart from these two species, there were also Small Heath, Common Blue, Brown Argus, Small Copper, Meadow Brown, Gatekeeper and a single Silver-spotted Skipper at the bottom of Steers Field, not a place on the hillside I've seen one before.

Dave
Attachments
ChB ab1 resized.jpg
Female - as well as a dearth of spots, this one has silver studs
ChB ab3 resized.jpg
Not quite right, but it may be partly age in this case
ChB ab2 resized.jpg
Nearly normal male
ChB4 ab resized.jpg
Another female lacking spots
ChB5 resized.jpg
A male lacking spots this time
two the same resized.jpg
Normal. But how often do you see two Chalkhills so similar?

millerd
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Re: August 2011

Postby millerd » Sat Aug 13, 2011 8:08 pm

I forgot to post this particularly delicate and softly marked Small Heath. There is quite a lot of variety in this much overlooked butterfly.

Dave
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SH1 resized.jpg

Gibster
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Re: August 2011

Postby Gibster » Sat Aug 13, 2011 8:42 pm

rhoumensis in Surrey!!!! (Or as I dubbed it in 2010's failed effort to clear up on the UK subspecies -my rhounemesis)
Raising £10,000 for Butterfly Conservation by WALKING 1200 miles from Land's End to John O'Groats!!!
See http://www.justgiving.com/epicbutterflywalk or look up Epic Butterfly Walk on Facebook.

millerd
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Re: August 2011

Postby millerd » Sat Aug 13, 2011 11:23 pm

Is that what it looks like? I knew it was a bit different. What are the characteristics it is displaying that make it resemble a far distant subspecies?

Dave

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David M
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Re: August 2011

Postby David M » Sun Aug 14, 2011 3:43 pm

Was out locally today in what felt like a very 'end of season' afternoon. The thistles and bramble blooms have practically gone, Hedge Browns have vanished and the Meadow Browns are looking very faded.

No Common Blues seen which mirrors comments made by others on here lately. No Small Tortoiseshells either (again).

Red Admirals were fairly plentiful, though I only saw 1 Comma and 1 Peacock. I did see another solitary Painted Lady though, which looked exceedingly fresh.

Handful of Speckled Woods and Green Veined Whites, along with a solitary Large White, but that was all (perhaps not surprising given the 80% cloud cover and 17C temperatures).

My autumn depression is now starting to develop once more. :(

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Re: August 2011

Postby Gibster » Sun Aug 14, 2011 5:05 pm

Gibster wrote:rhoumensis in Surrey!!!! (Or as I dubbed it in 2010's failed effort to clear up on the UK subspecies -my rhounemesis)


millerd wrote:Is that what it looks like? I knew it was a bit different. What are the characteristics it is displaying that make it resemble a far distant subspecies?

Dave


Sorry mate, I was saying that tongue-in-cheek. Obviously it is not of the endemic Hebridean race!!! :D

rhoumensis is (by all accounts) a very hairy, glaucous beast with a distinctly ghostly appearance in flight. Your individual is pretty silvery, but is several hundreds of miles south of where it should be (ie Rhum!)

I caught the ferry to Rhum last year in an attempt to connect with the endemic race, but rather carelessly got carried away chatting and neglected to notice that we'd berthed until the ferry began backing out of the harbour!!! DOH! The only other stop was at neighbouring Canna, so we tried there instead...just in case. Then the rain came in and all we managed were a handful of Meadow Brown splendida (cool name, they live up to it too!), Fox Moth larvae and a rain-lashed mystery Crambid. Rhum, just a few miles over the sea, somehow remained bathed in sunlight grrrrrrrrrrr. :evil:

Cheers,

Gibster.
Raising £10,000 for Butterfly Conservation by WALKING 1200 miles from Land's End to John O'Groats!!!
See http://www.justgiving.com/epicbutterflywalk or look up Epic Butterfly Walk on Facebook.

millerd
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Re: August 2011

Postby millerd » Sun Aug 14, 2011 6:53 pm

Gibster wrote:

Sorry mate, I was saying that tongue-in-cheek. Obviously it is not of the endemic Hebridean race!!! :D

rhoumensis is (by all accounts) a very hairy, glaucous beast with a distinctly ghostly appearance in flight. Your individual is pretty silvery, but is several hundreds of miles south of where it should be (ie Rhum!)

Gibster.


I didn't really expect it to have wandered, even accidentally carried south in the sporran of stray Scotsman :wink:

Interesting how the range of variation can extend as far as a resemblance to a different subspecies altogether. Though, thinking about it, this is how such subspecies evolve. A particular form finds itself more adaptable to a certain habitat, so more of that form survive there and breed through. This must happen on islands in particular, where they have at some point become cut off from supplies of "normal" genes.

Dave

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David M
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Re: August 2011

Postby David M » Sun Aug 14, 2011 7:01 pm

Went out for a post evening meal cigarette in my back garden just prior to 7pm and a Small Tortoiseshell fluttered in and landed on one of the patio chairs that was in the full glare of the sun. Nice to know they haven't suddenly become extinct!

millerd
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Re: August 2011

Postby millerd » Sun Aug 14, 2011 7:15 pm

Another trip to Aston Rowant today. Mostly cloudy, and as usual for this site, a stiff breeze was blowing. Nevertheless, there was enough intermittent sun and warmth for there to be lots of Silver-spotted Skippers about, and several Chalkhill Blues - of which there seemed to be more females than males. I also saw Meadow Browns, a few Gatekeepers, Speckled Woods and Brown Argus, and a couple of Common Blues.

I spent a lot of time watching the Skippers. As soon as the sun came out they lifted off and suddenly you could find yourself in a melee of four or five whizzing about. In the cloudy bits, they settled back onto the many sheep paths and bare areas to bask in re-radiated warmth, and were easy to spot as greeny-orange blobs against the background. I also came across several egg-laying females, and managed a shot of a freshly laid egg. Despite the limitations of the camera, you can just about make out the depression in the top of the otherwise quite smooth-looking egg.

A selection of photos from the excursion.

Dave
Attachments
SSS3 resized.jpg
Scabious seems the favourite...
SSS4 resized.jpg
...and again
SSS ovipositing resized.jpg
Female just about to lay
SSS egg resized.jpg
The egg that was laid
SSS1 resized.jpg
The world from the perspective of a Silver-spotted Skipper
SSS2 resized.jpg
Basking on bare ground - typical pose
SW1 resized.jpg
Speckled Woods do love a ripe blackberry
ChB1 resized.jpg
Fairly new male Chalkhill Blue
ChB pair resized.jpg
Mating pair of Chalkhills - a little graphic!

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Michaeljf
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Re: August 2011

Postby Michaeljf » Sun Aug 14, 2011 7:58 pm

Sunday 14th August 2011 – Kenfig Dunes (Nature Reserve) Porthcawl

Following suggestions by David M and Willrow, we headed for Kenfig Dunes at Porthcawl (South Wales) hoping to see both second brood Small Blue and Wall Brown. We started slightly later than normal and arrived at the reserve at 11am: we were lucky with the weather and there was mostly bright sunshine all over the reserve and this corner of Wales (there was cloud over Port Talbot just down the road so the good weather was quite localised). The Kenfig reserve is a site by the coast with a number of inter-weaving paths through dunes and large grassy knolls, with plenty of sand tracks and many wildflowers. Within a couple of minutes on the reserve we saw our first butterflies consisting of some Small Heaths and the usual Gatekeepers and Meadow Browns (I noticed that a lot of the Gatekeepers here were quite small). We headed on one of the main paths out towards the dunes: after only about 5 minutes Karen spotted the first Wall Brown, but it soon flew off without waiting for a photo.

The sun got (surprisingly) warmer as we walked towards the beach: soon we came across a few Common Blues and some second-brood Small Blues – a bit further on and I found a more sheltered spot with about 4 or 5 Small Blues in residence. I’d forgotten though, just how small these butterflies are. I found them very difficult to follow – stopping briefly to nectar at a few Birds-Foot Trefoil flowers before seeming to disappear suddenly. I would watch these butterflies for about an hour and as the sunny weather continued they seemed to spend their time ‘spiralling up’ in the air fighting each other, and then dropping down to find the best perch on the grass stems. Sometimes after a mid-air fight they would even ‘nick’ each others spot.

Later on we moved out to the beach where I saw my first Grayling of the day. There was more Sea-Holly by the coast and this added to the many lovely flowers amongst the dunes – Vipers Bugloss, Marjoram, Wild Thyme, Water-Mint, Honey-suckle and Ladies Bedstraw amongst others. As we headed back to the reserve centre we would pass more Graylings and a few more Wall Browns, though these were all being carried very quickly by the wind that had picked up. By accident we ended up on the edge of the golf course that borders the reserve, and here I managed to photograph a Wall Brown briefly as it took nectar from a line of Ragwort flowers just by the golf course. All in all, a great little trip and David and Bill (Willrow) were absolutely right about the species I would see!

Michael

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Kenfig Dunes at Porthcawl - a range of sandy routes amongst the grass and various shrubs.

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Small Heaths were amongst the first butterflies I would see, except they don't stay for photos for long..

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My first view of the second-brood Small Blues - this one darting into Birds-foot Trefoil flowers.

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The Small Blues would nick each others perching places on the grass stems.

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Plenty of lovely flowers amongst the dunes - some wonderful Water-Mint and Sea Holly.

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Some pink flowers (forgotten the name) and Honeysuckle amongst the smaller bushes.

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Some young Horseriders along the side of the coastal path.

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The Graylings would shelter out of the breeze in the afternoon. Great camouflage..

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A final view of one of the Small Blues just before we leave.

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A Wall Brown sits on the path right by the edge of the golf course.

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The Wall Brown ventures on to the Ragwort flowers by the edge of the reserve right at the end of our visit.
Last edited by Michaeljf on Sun Aug 14, 2011 9:14 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Neil Freeman
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Re: August 2011

Postby Neil Freeman » Sun Aug 14, 2011 8:30 pm

Hi Michael,

Another good report and photos. I always enjoy reading your posts.

I agree with the comments earlier in the thread with regard to you thinking about starting a personal diary.
I only started mine a little while ago. I do not know how often I will be able to update it, in fact I have not done so for over a week now... work, family and weather have conspired against me being able to get out anywhere :(

Anyway, wherever you post your reports, I shall continue to enjoy them :D

Cheers,

Neil

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Michaeljf
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Re: August 2011

Postby Michaeljf » Sun Aug 14, 2011 8:37 pm

Hi Neil,
thanks very much - you are very kind. I enjoy doing the reports - but I admit , a bit of sunshine during a trip out is always a great help :) . We visited Grafton Wood (Worcester) and Rodborough Common (Stroud) yesterday (Saturday) and the light was so dull there wasn't much point in posting the images. I really like to get at least one landscape shot 'thrown in' so that folks get a feel of a reserve etc, even if they never visit. I'm still not sure about my own diary but thanks all the same for the suggestion!! :wink:
Michael

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Neil Freeman
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Re: August 2011

Postby Neil Freeman » Sun Aug 14, 2011 8:56 pm

Grafton and Rodborough are two places that I am hoping to get to either next weekend or the one after. Are the Adonis out at Rodborough yet?

Neil.

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Michaeljf
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Re: August 2011

Postby Michaeljf » Sun Aug 14, 2011 9:18 pm

Hi Neil,
because the weather was so dull when we arrived at Rodborough yesterday afternoon, the butterflies were all sheltering in the grass or had just disappeared into the bushes :| . I only saw a few Chalkhill Blues while I was there. I still have to see Adonis Blues myself this year, so next week I may venture there again next week :).
Michael

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David M
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Re: August 2011

Postby David M » Sun Aug 14, 2011 9:40 pm

millerd wrote:Another trip to Aston Rowant today....I also came across several egg-laying females, and managed a shot of a freshly laid egg. Despite the limitations of the camera, you can just about make out the depression in the top of the otherwise quite smooth-looking egg.


Excellent stuff. I don't think I've ever seen a Skipper's egg before.

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David M
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Re: August 2011

Postby David M » Sun Aug 14, 2011 9:42 pm

Michaeljf wrote:Hi Neil,
because the weather was so dull when we arrived at Rodborough yesterday afternoon, the butterflies were all sheltering in the grass or had just disappeared into the bushes :| . I only saw a few Chalkhill Blues while I was there. I still have to see Adonis Blues myself this year, so next week I may venture there again next week :).
Michael


You up for a trip to West Williamston this year, Michael?

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Michaeljf
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Re: August 2011

Postby Michaeljf » Sun Aug 14, 2011 10:16 pm

David M wrote:You up for a trip to West Williamston this year, Michael?

Hi David,
yes - absolutely. But I don't want to go just to get poor weather (I've had enough of that this year) :roll: . I'm hoping that the weather will yet pick up a bit more?! I'm going to my sisters during the last weekend of August so next week might be an option, or maybe bank Holiday monday if we can get back from Kent the night before :| .
Michael

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Ian Pratt
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Re: August 2011

Postby Ian Pratt » Mon Aug 15, 2011 7:01 am

"Some pink flowers (forgotten the name) and Honeysuckle amongst the smaller bushes." Michaeljf said.

The pink flower is common centaury. Great report and photos.

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Michaeljf
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Re: August 2011

Postby Michaeljf » Mon Aug 15, 2011 7:51 am

Hi Ian,
thanks for comments and for the flower ID - I should have known them as they were also common at Parc Penallta (Ystrad Mynach) several weeks ago :) .

David - I see from the August 2010 sightings thread that I went to West Williamston last year on the bank holiday (30th August) - so any time in the next two weeks would be a good idea.

Michael

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NickB
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Re: August 2011

Postby NickB » Mon Aug 15, 2011 12:46 pm

A nice set of reports and pics; wish we had as many Wall over here and even one Grayling would be a sensation!
CHB_f_2_low_Burwell_14th_Aug_2011.jpg

Still a lot of Chalk-hills out yesterday on the DD/Burwell Cutting (as many females as males now , possibly more...) plus a Red Admiral along with the usual suspects - good numbers of Brown Argus and Small Heath (no rhoumensis, tho - I checked!)
Sm_H_2_low_Burwell_12th_July_2011.jpg

...with a few Common Blue as well. Lots of Small and GV White (doing this....)
GVWx2_1b_low_Burwell_12th_July_2011.jpg

A few Gatekeeper, Meadow Brown, Large white too, Very surprised to see an aged Small Skipper too!
Sm_Sk_1_low_Burwell_14th_Aug_2011.jpg

Earlier this morning - a nice fresh Comma....
Comma_1a_low_MRC_15th_Aug_2011.jpg

N
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