Pete Eeles

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David M
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Re: Pete Eeles

Postby David M » Tue Jun 24, 2014 9:07 pm

Tremendous stuff, Pete. Lovely image of Large Heath - a butterfly that is notoriously hard to photograph unencumbered by invasive grass blades!

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Re: Pete Eeles

Postby Wurzel » Tue Jun 24, 2014 10:30 pm

Absolutely fantastic stuff Pete, getting up at silly o'clock aside you make it seem so easy :mrgreen: :D

Have a goodun

Wurzel

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Re: Pete Eeles

Postby William » Wed Jun 25, 2014 6:32 am

That Dark Green Fritillary is stunning pete, and your ability to find wild immature stages equally so :D
Please note that I retain the copyright for any images I post.

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Re: Pete Eeles

Postby Pete Eeles » Wed Jun 25, 2014 7:14 am

Thanks Neil, David, Wurzel, William!

nfreem wrote:Great report from your trip up North Pete, I was up there a couple of weeks back.


Thanks Neil - yes, I took a good look at your excellent report (and from others) to help get my bearings for Irton Fell; I use UKB as much as anyone else - what a great resource! I've been to Meathop and Arnside many times before, but never this early and Arnside seems a different place; I was a amazed at the number of Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary (which I forgot to mention).

Cheers,

- Pete

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Re: Pete Eeles

Postby Neil Hulme » Wed Jun 25, 2014 7:44 am

That Large Heath shot is superb. You should enter it for the UKB Summer Photo Comp! :wink:
BWs, Neil

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Re: Pete Eeles

Postby Pete Eeles » Tue Jul 01, 2014 8:43 pm

Thanks Neil!

Northern Specialties
Due, once again, to a last-minute change of plan, I had the good fortune of visiting some sites in the Scottish Borders and my thanks, once again, to Iain Cowe (IAC) for suggesting these sites last year! I spent some time at sites near Eyemouth, as well as one of my favourite places; St. Abbs Head. Northern Brown Argus seems to be having a good year and, at one site, I managed to locate over 30 eggs in 20 minutes - not bad going - including several pairs of eggs that had most likely been laid by different females! Unlike the Brown Argus, whose eggs are typically laid on the underside of the leaves of Common Rock-rose, those of the Northern Brown Argus are laid on the upperside of the leaves and can be quite easy to find one you've gotten your eye in.

At one site, I had a great time chatting with the locals about the butterflies found, literally, on their doorstep - including a chap who must be one of the few people who gets Northern Brown Argus in his garden! At St. Abbs I also had the pleasure of meeting "Steve and Jacky" from Brighton, and Sussex BC members. It was a great pleasure to show them a Northern Brown Argus egg or two in an area where they were photographing the adults. Grayling ssp. scota also seems to be doing well, and I found 3 mating pairs at St. Abbs and Meadow Brown and Ringlets were everywhere! Some photos below.

1.jpg
Grayling ssp. scota - male

2.jpg
Grayling ssp. scota - female

3.jpg
Grayling ssp. scota - mating pair

4.jpg
Meadow Brown - male

5.jpg
Northern Brown Argus - male

6.jpg
Northern Brown Argus - female

7.jpg
Northern Brown Argus - male on right

8.jpg
Northern Brown Argus - ovum

9.jpg
Northern Brown Argus - ovum

10.jpg
Northern Brown Argus - ovum

11.jpg
Northern Brown Argus - ovum


Cheers,

- Pete

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Re: Pete Eeles

Postby Wurzel » Tue Jul 01, 2014 9:39 pm

Those Northern Brown Argus look lush Pete :mrgreen: :D They also seem a darker chocolate brown colour than the southern species, possibly because of the contrast causes by the white spot :? Do the Northern races of Grayling emerge earlier than those in the south as I can't recall too many records down this way yet?

Have a goodun

Wurzel

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Re: Pete Eeles

Postby Pete Eeles » Tue Jul 01, 2014 9:52 pm

Wurzel wrote:Those Northern Brown Argus look lush Pete :mrgreen: :D They also seem a darker chocolate brown colour than the southern species, possibly because of the contrast causes by the white spot :? Do the Northern races of Grayling emerge earlier than those in the south as I can't recall too many records down this way yet?

Have a goodun

Wurzel


Thanks Wurzel. Yes, in general, Northern Brown Argus are a darker brown than Brown Argus. I think the Grayling are emerging at pretty much the same time as more southerly colonies ... perhaps it's just that the colonies on the Scottish Borders are so strong that the emergence is more protracted (starting earlier, finishing later).

Cheers,

- Pete

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Re: Pete Eeles

Postby IAC » Tue Jul 01, 2014 9:57 pm

Maybe I should have canned my sojourn onto the high moors and got myself over to the coast. Fresh NBA males a challenge right now...so....hats off mate!! I counted 87 today in the hill burn cleughs a few miles inland from St Abbs and I did not see 1 of that 87 look anywhere near as good as those. And the Grayling are now it seems a little friendlier than they have been....just superb. 8)


Iain.

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Re: Pete Eeles

Postby Pete Eeles » Fri Jul 04, 2014 9:45 pm

Savernake Survivor
I had 2 trips to Savernake yesterday to see how things were progressing. Spending an hour around the column from 0900 didn't turn anything up, other than 2 other enthusiasts, but a return trip after work gave me a result - a grounded male on the track leading to the column. Unfortunately, only a single photo, since a local dog walker decided that his dog's curiosity was more important than my photography! Still, it was nice to think that this butterfly is one of the individuals that Matthew Oates was monitoring over the winter and that I had the privilege of seeing on several occasions! I don't know where this dinner dish sits on Neil's scale that includes "Gorilla's finger" and will have to defer to Neil for any other part of a gorilla's anatomy that might fit the bill :)

IMG_1446.jpg


Oh - and a White Admiral egg that Mark Colvin and I saw being laid in Chiddingfold Forest a couple of weeks back - forgot to post! Possibly the most stunning egg of any British butterfly!

White Admiral - ovum - Chiddingfold Wood - 24-Jun-14.jpg


Cheers,

- Pete

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Re: Pete Eeles

Postby Maximus » Sat Jul 05, 2014 6:37 pm

Fantastic photos Pete, that Large Heath :D the Northern Brown Argus (with the white marks on the wing), and the fabulous Grayling sspscota :D. Very near miss with PE open wing shot due to the dog walker :(

Mike

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Re: Pete Eeles

Postby Neil Hulme » Sat Jul 05, 2014 7:14 pm

Hi Pete,
Nice report from Savernake. Your insect is perched upon scat type 'Primate's Privy Member'.
BWs, Neil

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Re: Pete Eeles

Postby Pete Eeles » Mon Jul 07, 2014 6:55 pm

Neil Hulme wrote:Your insect is perched upon scat type 'Primate's Privy Member'.


:lol: Thanks Neil! And thanks Mike!

Another Day in Paradise
There are some sites that never, ever, fail to deliver the goods - and Stockbridge Down is such a site. Within the space of a couple of hours this morning I saw more butterflies than I've seen at any point this year - the place is buzzing with activity - with butterflies flying up with almost every footstep in the strip next to the road. I saw a few "firsts" for the year for me, including Chalk Hill Blue (7 males seen), Gatekeeper (4 males seen) and Essex Skipper (2 males seen). The next brood of Small Copper are also starting to emerge, with both a fresh male and fresh female seen.

Chalk Hill Blue - male - Stockbridge Down - 07-Jul-14.jpg
Chalk Hill Blue (male)

Gatekeeper - male - Stockbridge Down - 07-Jul-14.jpg
Gatekeeper (male)

Essex Skipper - male - Stockbridge Down - 07-Jul-14-4.jpg
Essex Skipper (male)

Essex Skipper - male - Stockbridge Down - 07-Jul-14.jpg
Essex Skipper (male)

Small Copper - female - Stockbridge Down - 07-Jul-14.jpg
Small Copper (female)


Stockbridge is special not simply because of the number of butterflies (the Marbled Whites in their hundreds), but because there's always something to see on the Lepidoptera front. As well as finding a Ringlet ab. centrifera, I took a good look at the mites attached to a Fox moth larva, as well as a female Marbled White that played host to the parasitic red mite, Trombidium breei, although such parasitism does not appear to affect the butterfly in any way.

Ringlet - female ab. centrifera - Stockbridge Down - 07-Jul-14-2.jpg
Ringlet ab. centrifera

Ringlet - female ab. centrifera - Stockbridge Down - 07-Jul-14.jpg
Ringlet ab. centrifera

Fox Moth- larva - Stockbridge Down - 07-Jul-14.jpg
Fox moth larva

Marbled White - female - Stockbridge Down - 07-Jul-14.jpg
Marbled White (female) with Trombidium breei

Marbled White - female - Stockbridge Down - 07-Jul-14-2.jpg
Marbled White (female) with Trombidium breei


But I was actually visiting to see the Small Skipper, Stockbridge being one of the best sites I know for this relatively-common species; I must have seen at least 50. At one point, I saw a Robber fly snatch a male Small Skipper in mid-air - unbelievable, and nature at its gruesome best!

Small Skipper - male - Stockbridge Down - 07-Jul-14.jpg
Small Skipper (male) captured by a Robber fly


And, finally, a selection of Small Skipper images. I found 3 mating pairs and saw 5 females ovipositing in the sheaths of Yorkshire-fog; I'm always amazed how such a small butterfly can get their ovipositor in such a tightly-wrapped grass stem and it's quite amusing watching her "shimmy" down a grass blade and then rotate around the blade in order to find a suitable spot to lay.

Small Skipper - female - Stockbridge Down - 07-Jul-14-8.jpg
Small Skipper (female)

Small Skipper - female - Stockbridge Down - 07-Jul-14-5.jpg
Small Skipper (female)

Small Skipper - female - Stockbridge Down - 07-Jul-14-6.jpg
Small Skipper (female) ovipositing

Small Skipper - female - Stockbridge Down - 07-Jul-14-7.jpg
Small Skipper (female) ovipositing

Small Skipper - ovum - Stockbridge Down - 07-Jul-14.jpg
Small Skipper (ova)


Cheers,

- Pete

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Re: Pete Eeles

Postby Pete Eeles » Tue Jul 15, 2014 9:49 pm

Woodland Wonders

I'm very lucky to live near to Pamber Forest - one of the best sites I know for Silver-washed Fritillary and White Admiral. I recently spent a very enjoyable hour at the edge of some woodland, where female Silver-washed Fritillary would nectar on bramble and rest (while not being hassled by males) before launching themselves into the woodland where they would sniff around on the forest floor for violets, before landing on a nearby tree trunk and deposit a single egg. There was lots of "oviposturing" going on (as Guy would call it) where, despite going through the motions, no egg was laid. I was also surprised to find that several eggs were laid on the moss covering the bark, rather than the bark itself. Eggs were laid at all heights, from 1 inch off the floor, up to 2.5 metres up. Shots below show the general scene of one of the eggs, laid at the base of a tree and where, following egg-laying, I found another egg! I then had a good look around on some of the other trees in the vicinity and turned up several more eggs ... they were a lot easier to find than I was expecting!

1.jpg
Common Dog-violet carpeting the forest floor

2.jpg
Silver-washed Fritillary egg

3.jpg
Silver-washed Fritillary egg

4.jpg
Silver-washed Fritillary egg


Even more fascinating was the emergence and subsequent development of a White Admiral larva. I managed to follow it for over a week before it simply disappeared! But what I found absolutely fascinating (and not something I've ever seen recorded) is that the larva doesn't simply move to the tip of the leaf and start feeding (leaving the midrib intact and leaving characteristic feeding damage) but deliberately constructs a platform, made from silk and frass, at the tip of the leaf. If anyone has seen this documented I'd appreciate seeing a reference to this behaviour!

5a.jpg
White Admiral egg with fully-formed larva inside

5b.jpg
Newly-emerged White Admiral larva, heading for the leaf tip

6.jpg
White Admiral larva in perspective

7.jpg
White Admiral larva

8.jpg
White Admiral larva

9.jpg
White Admiral larva

10.jpg
White Admiral larva


Cheers,

- Pete

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Re: Pete Eeles

Postby Wurzel » Wed Jul 16, 2014 8:55 pm

Cracking stuff Pete :D Your penultimate shot helps me to understand why I've never seen a White Admiral cat - that is miniscule. I know they get a lot bigger but to start from that early instars must be a nightmare to find :shock:

Have a goodun

Wurzel

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Re: Pete Eeles

Postby Pete Eeles » Sun Jul 20, 2014 3:44 pm

Wurzel wrote:I know they get a lot bigger but to start from that early instars must be a nightmare to find :shock:


Thanks Wurzel - and that's the reason for showing the characteristic feeding damage ... which should make things a little easier!

Cheers,

- Pete

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Re: Pete Eeles

Postby Pete Eeles » Sun Jul 20, 2014 4:27 pm

And I would walk 500 miles ...

Actually 531 miles, and I did use a plane and car, but it's still a long way to go :) This year I promised myself a trip to see the last species of Grayling I've yet to see - ssp. atlantica - found in north west Scotland. This mammoth journey took me to Ardnamurchan Point (recommended by Adrian Riley in his excellent book British and Irish Butterflies), which is almost the westernmost point on the British mainland (the actual record holder being 1km to the south). The trip from Glasgow took me through some of the most spectacular scenery our nation has to offer and made the journey so much more bearable! The Corran ferry also provides a nice 15 minute break in the driving, and takes quite a distance off the trip, dropping you off on the Arnamurchan Peninsula. What I didn't realise is that you're then confronted with approximately 35 miles of single track road, although there are plenty of passing places, and I think I came across 5 or so cars for the entire length of the drive across the peninsula! Despite driving through drizzle for 30 mins or so, I arrived at my destination to see a good amount of broken cloud.

1.jpg
Ardnamurchan Point


I really had no idea whether I'd see my target and was prepared to visit a few other sites up and down the coast, but started by wandering over the rocky outcrop near the lighthouse. Within a few minutes I flushed up a butterfly and it was unmistakably a Grayling! The contrast on the underside was really quite something - my first Grayling ssp. atlantica, and a beautiful male at that!

2c.jpg
Grayling ssp. atlantica - male


I followed this chap for at least 5 minutes and then, on request, the clouds gave way to bright sunshine, and 5 or 6 Grayling suddenly appeared from nowhere, making the trip totally worthwhile as I managed to get more photos and spend some time just enjoying them, and the view! I saw around 30 individual Grayling in total and a lot of the males had great chunks taken out of the hind wings, no doubt the result of attacks from the local birdlife. As is usual for Grayling, the adults simply disappeared on landing, blending perfectly into their background. I even had several "double takes" while processing the photos - this species being a master of camouflage!

2b.jpg
Grayling ssp. atlantica - male

2.jpg
Grayling ssp. atlantica - male

3.jpg
Grayling ssp. atlantica - female

3b.jpg
Grayling ssp. atlantica - female


A nice addition was seeing my first ever Meadow Brown ssp. splendida, although they were few and far between with just 2 male and 2 female seen in total. However, the adults were quite spectacular, with large patches of orange on their forewings, including the male.

4.jpg
Meadow Brown ssp. splendida - male

5.jpg
Meadow Brown ssp. splendida - female

6.jpg
Meadow Brown ssp. splendida - female


Just as I was leaving the site, an Oak Eggar larva wandered right in front of me - a nice end to the morning! It was also great seeing various islands of the inner Hebrides as I drove back to the ferry, including Mull (sorry I didn't have time to pop over to Tobermory to see you, Jack!), Muck, Eigg and (a destination for next year to see Small Heath ssp. rhoumensis) Rhum.

7.jpg
Oak Eggar larva


Since it was on the way back to Glasgow, I decided to pop into Glasdrum Wood to see if I could find the Chequered Skipper larvae that will have emerged from the eggs that I'd found on a previous visit. Unfortunately, 3 of the 4 markers I'd put down (well, twigs) were missing and the last failed to produce anything. However, I did manage to see several newly-emerged summer brood Green-veined White ssp. thomsoni and also managed to find a few Speckled Wood ssp. oblita.

8.jpg
Green-veined White ssp. thomsoni - male, summer brood

9.jpg
Green-veined White ssp. thomsoni - male, summer brood

10.jpg
Green-veined White ssp. thomsoni - female, summer brood

11.jpg
Green-veined White ssp. thomsoni - female, summer brood

12.jpg
Speckled Wood ssp. oblita - female


But the nicest surprise, was finding my first ever Scotch Argus ssp. caledonia - a single male that had clearly just emerged, marking the end to an exhausting, but very enjoyable, day!

13.jpg
Scotch Argus ssp. caledonia - male


Cheers,

- Pete

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Re: Pete Eeles

Postby David M » Sun Jul 20, 2014 8:51 pm

I'm so glad you located your quarry, Pete, having travelled all that way.

Just a shame you didn't see a passing DGF scotica which would have put the icing on the cake.

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Re: Pete Eeles

Postby Pete Eeles » Sun Jul 20, 2014 8:53 pm

Thanks David! If scotica was still a recognised form (it's been removed in the latest classification), then I might have tried for it! I did see several female DGFs at various points, but none conformed to this form!

Cheers,

- Pete

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Re: Pete Eeles

Postby Wurzel » Sun Jul 20, 2014 10:30 pm

Fantastic stuff Pete - four subspecies in one report :D :mrgreen: The Scotch Argus is a right cracker :D

Have a goodun

Wurzel


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