IAC

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IAC
Posts: 280
Joined: Tue Jun 12, 2007 7:40 pm
Location: Berwickshire

IAC

Postby IAC » Mon Mar 07, 2011 3:28 pm

Hi all,
I will try to!! keep updating this diary with the sightings and events in and around the Scottish Borders. The butterfly months though are usually chaotic...and finding time to do this will not be easy. Their are some very interesting movements of Butterflies north in the past few years with gains and losses locally. Small and Large Skipper, Speckled Wood, Wall Brown and Comma have made major gains over the past few years....even the Brimstone is appearing from time to time....though the chances of the Butterfly settling here are debateable. The losses seem to be local especially of Scotch Argus and Large Heath...their are very few areas now supporting these butterflies in South East Scotland.
On the upside, Small Pearl Bordered Fritillary and Small Blue previously thought extinct within Berwickshire District are doing well...

We have had a few local sightings of early Small Tortoiseshells in Berwickshire so far...I hope it wont be much longer before their is a lot more to see....it has been a particularly long winter.

Iain.

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NickMorgan
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Location: East Lothian

Re: IAC

Postby NickMorgan » Tue Mar 08, 2011 9:27 pm

Iain,
I have enjoyed reading your posts on the East of Scotland forum and I'm looking forward to reading about your 2011 findings here.
Nick

Piers
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Re: IAC

Postby Piers » Wed Mar 09, 2011 11:37 am

I second that Nick; coverage of Caledonian 'doings' will be very interesting and most welcome. I do love Scotland.

Felix.

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David M
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Re: IAC

Postby David M » Thu Mar 10, 2011 7:12 pm

In many respects, the borders of Scotland represent a key indicator of general butterfly health. I will eagerly await any reports relating to distribution and ubiquity of species.

IAC
Posts: 280
Joined: Tue Jun 12, 2007 7:40 pm
Location: Berwickshire

Re: IAC

Postby IAC » Tue Mar 15, 2011 1:31 pm

Hi all,
Thanks for your comments chaps.

Iain.

IAC
Posts: 280
Joined: Tue Jun 12, 2007 7:40 pm
Location: Berwickshire

Re: IAC

Postby IAC » Tue Mar 15, 2011 2:10 pm

Hi all,

Last year I did a little experimenting with my cameras ( Canon 450d) ISO settings. I am very frustrated that having bought an expensive tripod, I found it to be cumbersome, and unresponsive. Like a scene from a wrestling match, I lost a lot of blood sweat and tears trying to get it to do what I wanted it to do. So I bodyslammed its weedy, unwieldy, collection of carbon fibre evil to the back of the cupboard. Which left me a problem to solve...how to hand hold in less than perfect conditions with a Sigma 105mm attached to the camera. I quite by accident discovered that ISO 200 and 400 produced pretty good results. Having always used ISO 100 what ever the conditions...so....it took a lot of getting used to. I also wanted to go to 7.1 aperture or thereabouts in order to open up a depth of field. This though made the shutter speed very low...so...eventually realised that even ISO 800 could be deployed given the right circumstances. It has made an enormous difference in the field, and gives me a little more confidence that I can pretty much do without the troublesome tripod.

Below are examples of one photo taken in July last year in overcast conditions of a fairly inactive Narrow Bordered Five Spot Burnet...lots of burnout issues here because of the high ISO 800 setting at 7.1 and shutter 1/80 sec.
The irony is...having belittled the tripod...it would have come in handy here...ha, ha,ha.

Having reviewed the photos I downloaded....I am not to sure that you can realy see the grain on the original due to file compression....I will need a rethink on my current downloading strategy me thinks.
Nevermind....maybe you get the idea....does anyone have any thoughts on handholding in ISO of 200,400,800....any tips I should know from the experts much appreciated.

Iain.
Attachments
iso 800 F7.1.jpg
Close up of original for noise issues.
nb5sb dark.jpg
Edited version with grain and burnout issues resolved.
NBFSB.jpg
Original photo with burnout issues caused by high iso.

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Rogerdodge
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Location: North Devon

Re: IAC

Postby Rogerdodge » Tue Mar 15, 2011 4:07 pm

Iain
I agree that higher ISOs do not bring the noise with them that they used to.
However - even though I ususlly shoot at 400 ISO, I also always use EITHER a tripod or monopod.
The tripod, admittedly, gets less use than the monopod, but I tend to use it early mornings, and dull days when the critters are less lively (and the light is a little lower anyway).
The monopod is a great tool. Use a good head like the Manfrotto monopod head (your lens really needs a tripod ring for this to change to portrait format etc.) and the results will speak for themselves.
The monopod is also a good walking stick, bramble/thistle/nettle displacer (very good if you have shorts on) and can be used to encourage over friendly or over agressive dogs (or their owners :wink: ) to go elsewhere.
Cheers

Roger

IAC
Posts: 280
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Location: Berwickshire

Re: IAC

Postby IAC » Mon Mar 21, 2011 2:45 pm

Hi all,
Thanks for the monopod tips....it is possibly the way to go. I would as you have pointed out Rodge... have many uses for one. I will look into it.

Iain.

IAC
Posts: 280
Joined: Tue Jun 12, 2007 7:40 pm
Location: Berwickshire

Re: IAC

Postby IAC » Mon Mar 21, 2011 2:56 pm

Hi all,
Finally....the butterfly season has kicked off. Small Tortoiseshell the other day...and today 4 Comma by the river Whiteadder. Always in the same position...each and every spring. Without fail. Nice to see. Lots of running and jumping again...grinning and cursing....magnificent...Chiff Chaffs singing....just..well...you know.

No nectaring Commas today...perhaps over the next few days they will begin to do that. A very stiff breeze from the south west, but still managing 15oC.

Despite it being sunny..I still persisted with a 400 iso and 7.1 ap....not to bad. I have in the past only been able to get a half wing in focus or a stray leaf instead of the butterfly....400 works well. Handheld, still no monopod. I have this year also deployed an HD video camera....I need a lot of practice I think...very shaky indeed.

Iain.
Attachments
Comma 21st March1_1.jpg
Comma 21st March 2_1.jpg

IAC
Posts: 280
Joined: Tue Jun 12, 2007 7:40 pm
Location: Berwickshire

Re: IAC

Postby IAC » Wed Mar 23, 2011 2:03 pm

Peacocks at Large in the Scottish Borders.

I counted 11 Peacock today on the river banks of the Whiteadder,near Chirnside Berwickshire. Quite unusual to see so many so soon. Comma and Small Tortoiseshell are gimmes at this time of year..but Peacock tend to be ones and twos till mid April. Lots of territorial display from the Peacocks and nectaring sparingly on lesser Celandine. 2 Comma and 1 Small Tortoiseshell the only other takers today.
The Woods are full of Chiff Chaffs and the odd Nuthatch heralding an early spring...however I do hear that the weather is to turn again by the weekend....sadly.

Iain.
Attachments
small tort 23 march.jpg
peax2 23 march_1.jpg
peax 23 march_1.jpg

IAC
Posts: 280
Joined: Tue Jun 12, 2007 7:40 pm
Location: Berwickshire

Re: IAC

Postby IAC » Fri Mar 25, 2011 3:37 pm

It does look likely that the unusually warm spell has come to an end for now here in Scotland. Intermittent sunshine today and temps pegged back to 12oC. A high yesterday of 18oC was just incredible. Yesterday Small Tortoiseshell narrowly scored a victory over their bitter rivals the Peacocks with a late double score in extra time to win 15 to 13....a record, personally for March counts. The Comma had a final score of 8...very good and record breaking my previous best of 7, and that was last year in April.

Today things were a lot quieter with 5 Peacock, 4 Small Tortoiseshell and 3 Comma. An area by the river Whiteadder holds a south facing bank covered in Butterbur...it is a mecca for me in spring and likewise the butterfly population.

It will be a wee while yet for any of the Whites...my fave the Orange Tip earliest sighting was about the beginning of April...I think 2009...not sure...so fingers crossed. I think maybe a little rain now would be usefull...we do not need another dry spring like 2009 and 2010....the foodplants would benefit.
Attachments
st1.jpg
This Small Tortoiseshell was desperate for a ray of sunshine.
peaco25.jpg
Peacocks just love this stuff.
commas325.jpg
A Comma takes a hearty swig of Ye Olde Butterbeer.
butterbur.jpg
Butterbur bursts from the ground..the Springtime Butterfly lure.

IAC
Posts: 280
Joined: Tue Jun 12, 2007 7:40 pm
Location: Berwickshire

Re: IAC

Postby IAC » Tue Mar 29, 2011 3:16 pm

Hi all,

The weather aint half as bad up here as the met office would have you believe. Yes it may only be 11 and 12oC but the sun does shine from time to time and butterflies are quite active during these spells. Peacock, Small Tortoiseshell and Comma fairly widespread at the moment. I realy do not expect any of the White butterflies to show up just yet though it is encouraging to see them emerging further south...especially the Orange Tips. On the look out for Holly Blue at the moment....I have never personally seen one in these parts yet... but their are local records...so fingers crossed.



The video is of a Comma I filmed today on my swanky swish new HD camera....I am very chuft with it!!

Iain.

IAC
Posts: 280
Joined: Tue Jun 12, 2007 7:40 pm
Location: Berwickshire

Re: IAC

Postby IAC » Sat Apr 02, 2011 4:50 pm

The weather has eventually calmed down a great deal...lots of gale force winds and rain is not good. As the sun shone again today 6 Peacock and 6 Comma found on the Whiteadder banks.
The video below is a montage of the general behaviour of the Peacock fraternity today....it is quite shocking!!! As well as drinking heavily, posing in the sun,preening and showing off...one naughty boy got a little frisky with a lady Comma....much to her disgust.


Iain.


IAC
Posts: 280
Joined: Tue Jun 12, 2007 7:40 pm
Location: Berwickshire

Re: IAC

Postby IAC » Fri Apr 15, 2011 8:50 pm

Orange Tip, Green Veined White and Small White gradually getting up to speed here in the Scottish Borders. Comma, Peacock and Small Tortoiseshell doing very well. 1 Red Admiral the only other species seen. Painted Lady sightings a week or so ago are dying down now. I expect to be seeing some Large White and Speckled Wood soon. I guess it is that time of year now to go Green Hairstreak hunting....we do not have any in Berwickshire...so...that is the mighty task...to unearth a butterfly that has as yet never been recorded in the VC....dont hold your breath.
Holly Blue in Berwickshire are scarce...only 1 sighting on the coast a few years back. I might find some somewhere...one day.

I was on an unofficial field trip a few days back to a Small Pearl Bordered Fritillary site within Berwickshire...they had become so scarce in the east it was thought they had become extinct within the VC....in 2009 I discovered a wet field site containing 20 or so adults...on further investigation of the area in 2010 we discovered 150 flying adults at peak....not so extinct now...on top of that I stumbled across 3 individuals 5 miles from this colony in late June...so....their are probably a lot more SPBF out their awaiting discovery. Tom Prescott from Scottish BC visited the site to look at the habitat and seemed fairly happy that it was at the moment stable...and would probably need annual monitoring for changes.

Below are some Orange Tip snaps...the first of the season with the tripod in toe...I have no love at all for the tripod...lugging it around is a real burden...however...it does ensure sharp images....most of the time.

Iain
Attachments
Orange Tip 15th3_1.jpg
Orange Tip 15th2_1.jpg
Orange Tip 15th_1.jpg

IAC
Posts: 280
Joined: Tue Jun 12, 2007 7:40 pm
Location: Berwickshire

Re: IAC

Postby IAC » Sun Apr 17, 2011 8:33 pm

SPECKLED WOOD

It took a truckfull of patience to track down some Speckled Wood up here in sunny Berwickshire today...and as usual a large slice of luck...when does luck become experience I wonder...I dunno. Climbing a steep river bank strewn with Hawthorn and Bramble...in some very unScottish temperatures is hard work. Hard work made easier in following a male Orange Tip as he made his way up the slope sampling nectar from violets...then from out of nowhere a Speckled Wood shot from the ground in pursuit...and I was not far behind....okay....a good way behind...I chased the blighter for quite some time...about a minute in reality before I collapsed in a sweltering heap...another I presume male joined him briefly for a territorial tussle.....great stuff....you know....you just cannot beat this butterfly hunting lark...its just the bees golden knees.

Orange Tip just peeking with over 50 counted...they are difficult to count...the trick is too keep moving as they do..and keep an eye out for them lapping you.



I am going coastal tommorow to investigate an old Holly Blue sighting form a few years back...I do hope to get lucky.


Iain.
Attachments
gvw_1.jpg
So hot today that the GVWs were seen keeping shady and cool.
peacock_1.jpg
Peacock by the Whiteadder banks today.
EDRINGTON_1.jpg
The area around Edrington less than 1 mile from the English Border.
otegg_1.jpg
Orange Tip ova on Garlic Mustard by the Whiteadder.
SPECKLED_1.jpg
One of two Speckled Wood in Berwickshire today.

IAC
Posts: 280
Joined: Tue Jun 12, 2007 7:40 pm
Location: Berwickshire

Re: IAC

Postby IAC » Fri Apr 29, 2011 7:23 pm

April in East Berwickshire

Finding it very difficult to keep up with the Butterflies this year...we have not seen much in the way of rain all month..as a result things are very dynamic indeed. Peacock and Small Tortoiseshell have driven themselves translucent and ragged..the Orange Tips exploded out of the blocks and are now twiddling their antennae wondering what to do next. Comma are finding that the cover of the wood is best to keep out of the bossy Peacocks territory.
Searching for Speckled Wood has been challenging, however they are in all the same places as last year...the winter weather certainly not affecting a march northwards of this butterfly.
Yesterday at Burnmouth I found 3 Small Copper and a surprise Wall Brown male. I am just not sure how far in front we are this year...from records I have...it could be as much as 2 weeks.!! I wonder what is next...I suppose Small Heath will be around...then perhaps Small Blue may make a very early jump...Northern Brown Argus?..it is very unpredictable.

We will have some timing issues involving field trips this year by the looks of it...
Attachments
Small Copper_1.jpg
Small Copper on guard on the Berwickshire coastal path
Red Admiral_1.jpg
Red Admiral on Oil Seed Rape at Burnmouth
Berwickshire coast_1.jpg
The Berwickshire coast south of Eyemouth.

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David M
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Re: IAC

Postby David M » Fri Apr 29, 2011 8:12 pm

How common is the Northern Brown Argus in your part of the country?

IAC
Posts: 280
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Location: Berwickshire

Re: IAC

Postby IAC » Sat Apr 30, 2011 7:10 pm

Hi David,
Common enough I expect. Historical records of Northern Brown Argus go back 150 or so years...and the butterfly is still holding on in most these original sites. The southern boundary suddenly halts on the Berwickshire coast at Burnmouth. Inland thier are larger colonies...best places being old quarry sites and volcanic plugs. Rockrose has more than likely declined from the lowland river banks where it once used to be common.
I have found Northern Brown Argus rogues well away from any Rockrose leading to the possibility of another foodplant being used...I cannot at the moment prove that though. Geranium species are widespread...and when you do see a Northern Brown Argus 2 and 3 miles from a colony you have to wonder how it is that it got there....last year one of these fluke sightings was repeated at a site without Rockrose....so....a mystery to be solved.
Dry springs seem to be threatning some colonies...especially the ones on open south facing cliffs with little soil structure. The Rockrose thrives no matter how dry it gets....it is designed to be reasonably drought tolerant....however...my theory is that the Rockrose may change its cell structure to conserve moisture...hence...the larvae may be unable to feed properly....just my own uneducated theory...

Hope that answers your question.

Iain.

IAC
Posts: 280
Joined: Tue Jun 12, 2007 7:40 pm
Location: Berwickshire

Re: IAC

Postby IAC » Sat May 07, 2011 8:37 pm

Early May in Berwickshire

The weather has finally broken down...good or bad? I am convinced it has done so at just the right time.
Over the past few weeks butterfly numbers have remained stable. Small Copper are very obvious...an 18 count on a wee hillside cleugh near Duns is very high for spring....a mass emergence likely. Along with the posturing Small Copper, Small Heath are just coming to the fore as the weather turns. Red Admiral seem to be up here in reasonable numbers with at least 1 being seen a day. 1 Painted Lady last week flying at pace..as is usual. Wall Brown are again in numbers...I have observed their rise to power over the past 3-4 years...and it realy is quite impressive. Very common on the coast now and beginning a march inland...as each brood emerges I am seeing them in new areas. I was out today in overcast conditions with rain threatning and I still managed to find one flitting down a farmland track.
I have been searching for Green Hairstreak for a few years now in Berwickshire...and still nothing to date. The closest known colony is over 20 miles away at Galashiels. So...I decided to go visit this site..and hopefully see my first ever Greens. Arriving at the site I realised how grand scale the habitat was..a large slab of hillside clothed in heather, scrub and Bilberry. I marched around for 3 hours...and nothing...Common Heath and Brown Silver Lines cursed on every footfall. After that depressing 3 hours...I was just about to give up..when it suddenly dawned on me that I had been searching the wrong area. I found some Birch scrub among scree boulders....and bang...two tiny rockets fired up into the sky spinning and turning....I quickly reached for my camera...and waited...and waited...and yes...the little blighter broke off the assault and set himself down on a rock about a metre from where I was primed to pounce. I was able to get very close...it is always very special to see a new butterfly...and this was very special indeed..I now, am more than ever encouraged to find the Greens in Berwickshire....but I know it wont be easy....it would not be any fun if it was easy.
Attachments
hbh.jpg
A resting Hummbird Hawk near Eyemouth.
smcopp.jpg
1 of 18 Small Copper on a hillside cleugh.
ot.jpg
A resting Orange Tip today.
gh.jpg
My first ever Green..
gh2.jpg
You need eyes of the hawk to see this...ridiculous.

Susie
Posts: 3601
Joined: Wed Mar 19, 2008 6:34 pm

Re: IAC

Postby Susie » Sun May 08, 2011 8:02 am

Well done IAin, you can't beat seeing your first GH.


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