David M

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David M
Posts: 7570
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 8:17 pm
Location: South Wales

Re: David M

Postby David M » Tue Aug 22, 2017 6:11 pm

Tuesday 22nd August 2017 - an August to forget....

I don't know about everyone else, but never before have I known a summer to wither away so prematurely. It's not just the butterflies; the vegetation is largely spent and don't start me on the weather!!

With a rare sunny, warm day on the cards, I arrived at West Williamston in Pembrokeshire at 10.25am, and in spite of partly cloudy conditions, stumbled upon my first Brown Hairstreak female just 10 minutes later. She was a ragged specimen but it didn't stop her laying eggs:

1BH1laying(1).jpg


Here is the fruit of her labour:

1BH1egg(1).jpg


I watched her for 15 minutes or so as she took short flights from one blackthorn sucker to the next, before I moved to the opposite side of the first field whereupon I spotted a second female:

1BH2uns(1).jpg


She is probably lucky to be alive, as whatever took the chunk out of her hindwings must have missed her body by about a millimetre! She did absolutely nothing for 20 minutes as it had gone overcast at this point, but when the sun returned, she soon opened her wings:

1BH2ups(1).jpg


I wandered onto the foreshore, and by midday the skies cleared invitingly and I soon spotted a third female, with this one being in as good a condition as one can expect in late August:

1BH3ups(1).jpg


She flew off after less than 5 minutes during which time she crawled around a mature shrub bending her abdomen around the spines without laying any eggs:

1BH3laying(1).jpg


At 1pm, I returned to the first field and started looking for eggs (eventually reaching 17). Whilst doing this, I disturbed a fourth female:

1BH4uns(1).jpg


1BH4ups(1).jpg


I crossed the field to where I had started when I first arrived, and thought I'd seen a fifth Brown Hairstreak, only for it to turn out to be the one I originally saw almost three hours earlier!! She was in much the same spot too. What a shift she'd put in if she'd been laying eggs all that time:

1BH1ups(1).jpg


General butterfly numbers were again abysmal - I've never known things so bad at this time of year. Even Speckled Woods numbered single figures and a mere three Hedge Browns were seen! Half a dozen Large Whites was a positive, with Small and Green Veined seen also. One Silver Washed Fritillary, one Comma, four Red Admirals and two Peacocks was dismal, whilst the only other species about were a single Holly Blue and three, maybe four male Common Blues:

1CommBlue(1).jpg


My spirits were lifted slightly on the drive home when I saw a male Brimstone nectaring by the roadside near Pont Abraham, but the truth is that overall numbers are worryingly low. I have visited this site four times in a fortnight now and have not seen a single Small Tortoiseshell, yet upon my return home, my neighbour had THREE on scabious flowers in her small front garden.

I can't work it out! :?:

trevor
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Joined: Thu Sep 25, 2014 6:31 pm

Re: David M

Postby trevor » Tue Aug 22, 2017 6:55 pm

We both have something in common David !.
Success with the Brown Hairstreak today, only two appeared for me,
you did rather better. One of yours looks quite fresh too.
I agree about numbers of other species, which seem to be on the wane.
The price of an advanced season I suppose.

Trevor.

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bugboy
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Location: London

Re: David M

Postby bugboy » Tue Aug 22, 2017 7:22 pm

Good result with the Hairstreaks. Yes this summer has pretty much crashed hasn't it, however I was out today and I was seeing signs of a late summer flourish, if only the weather would get back on track!
Some addictions are good for the soul!

millerd
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Location: Heathrow

Re: David M

Postby millerd » Tue Aug 22, 2017 10:25 pm

Some very good Hairstreak activity there, David. It does seem very autumnal - the blackberries are nearly over, the ivy is flowering and the sunshine has been somewhat missing lately. But as Buggy says, if we get some decent weather (today was very warm here), there might be a late burst of activity and some third broods. We can but hope. :)

Dave

Pauline
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Joined: Mon Jun 11, 2007 1:49 pm
Location: Liphook, Hants

Re: David M

Postby Pauline » Wed Aug 23, 2017 5:56 pm

Some nice shots there of BH David - at this point in the season I'd class that as a good result. I'll still be looking and I'll be happy with worn and ragged if I find any.

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Goldie M
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Re: David M

Postby Goldie M » Sat Aug 26, 2017 11:07 am

Hi! David, you seem to have had better luck with the Hair streaks than I had :mrgreen: :mrgreen: Goldie :D

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David M
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Location: South Wales

Re: David M

Postby David M » Sun Aug 27, 2017 8:38 pm

Sunday 27th August 2017 - Colourful day....

I decided against travelling to Pembroke for Brown Hairstreaks today due to an 'iffy' weather forecast. Sure enough, it was cloudy first thing, and my chosen destination, which is half way towards Pembrokeshire, was also decidedly overcast when I arrived at 10.05am.

The National Botanic Gardens of Wales, which is near Cross Hands, has had a butterfly house for over a year now, so I spent the first 45 minutes in there whilst waiting for the clouds to lift.

There were several Blue Morphos:

1.BlueMorpho(1).jpg


This Malachite was unusually co-operative:

1Malachite(1).jpg


And here are two I haven't seen before:

1.Unknown2(1).jpg


1.Unknown1(1).jpg


Outside of the tropical environment, there were plenty of beautiful indigenous butterflies going about their business. Unsurprisingly, Small Whites were very common (40+) given that the walled gardens contain huge numbers of pesticide-free brassica plants. Both Large and Green Veined Whites were about in reasonable numbers too, with this female napi being abnormally heavily marked with a rich shade of lemon yellow on the underside:

1.GVW(1).jpg


Sadly, I lost track of it as it flew perpetually around the vegetable patch, which is a shame, as the black markings on the upper forewings were so unusual that I would describe it as an aberrant.

The real joy though was the presence of significant numbers of vanessids, and Small Tortoiseshells in particular.

I've been concerned about Torties for a few weeks now, but today went some way towards allaying those fears as at least three dozen were seen, along with 10 or so Peacocks, 4 or 5 Red Admirals and a couple of Painted Ladies.

The buddleias and verbena in the sheltered walled gardens were an absolute magnet for them:

1.Peacockx2.SmTort(1).jpg


1.RedAd.Peacock.SmTort2(1).jpg


1LgeWh.SmTort.Peacock(1).jpg


1RedAd.Peacock.SmTort(1).jpg


The second Painted Lady was a bit unusual due to it having pronounced blue spots along the hindwing submargin:

1PLady(1).jpg


This Red Admiral, which has enlarged blue markings on the hindwing, was the winner of the 'posing in strange places' award though....it was trying to warm itself upside down on one of the information panels in the Wallace garden:

1RAsign(1).jpg


Other butterflies seen were 5 Common Blues and a Speckled Wood.

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Goldie M
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Re: David M

Postby Goldie M » Tue Aug 29, 2017 10:10 am

Glad you saw Small Tortoiseshells Dave , we've not seen many here at all, usually in the Garden we've had loads this time of year,
nothing yet though but I'm still hope full :D Goldie :D

essexbuzzard
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Re: David M

Postby essexbuzzard » Wed Aug 30, 2017 7:37 pm

Sensational pictures there David. Small Torts are having a good year in the east too, with ones and twos almost everywhere, but not in those numbers!

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bugboy
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Location: London

Re: David M

Postby bugboy » Wed Aug 30, 2017 7:48 pm

I think the last time I saw Nymphalids clustering over Buddleja like that I was a young teenager looking at the one growing at the bottom of my garden in the 80's, and I'd probably reared most of them as well!
Some addictions are good for the soul!

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David M
Posts: 7570
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 8:17 pm
Location: South Wales

Re: David M

Postby David M » Sun Sep 17, 2017 9:09 pm

Sunday 17th September 2017 - Autumn setting in.....

Another visit to the National Botanic Gardens of Wales saw plenty of butterflies, both inside and outside the glasshouse. However, since my visit 3 weeks ago Large Whites have seemingly disappeared, with only a handful of Small and Green Veined Whites on the wing. That said, there were dozens of Large White larvae munching on the cabbages, nasturtiums and sprouts. Next year's brood looks guaranteed!

There were decent numbers of both Red Admirals and Small Tortoiseshells. With the buddleia flowers practically gone, they made a beeline for this attractive and fragrant plant, which I later learned was actaea simplex, or Pritchard's Giant:

1Adm.Tort(1).jpg


I managed to find one Comma, which posed nicely:

1Comma(1).jpg


This female Green Veined White was very attractive:

1GVW(1).jpg


The British Bird of Prey Centre had a display at the site today. There was a Red Kite, a Buzzard, a Kestrel, a Merlin (which I'd never seen close up before), a Goshawk, a Tawny Owl and this magnificent Golden Eagle:

1GdEagle(1).jpg


I also had the honour of holding this beautiful Barn Owl for a few minutes:

1BarnOwl(1).jpg


The previous day, I spent the best part of an hour at Port Eynon where I saw this unusual Red Admiral with the black extending through the red band:

1RedAdm(1).jpg


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