False Apollo

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False Apollo
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False Apollo

Postby False Apollo » Sun Nov 10, 2013 6:33 pm

Having just joined UK Butterflies, I thought I would post from time to time on Butterflies from the Christchurch and Bournemouth areas. Living in an area which is very good for late butterflies, it is certainly possible to see certain species into December (in areas sheltered from frost).
On the sunny 4th November, Red Admirals were all around Christchurch from east to west, all were singles, but were very active. I'm lucky to have two yellow buddleias currently in flower and Hebe Great Orme which they seem to enjoy nectaring on. There have been 5 Red Admirals in the garden from late October, when they also visited our mature Strawberry Tree. Currently 2 have been in sunning themselves on the white wall of the garage in the mornings.
Getting back to the 4th November we had a female Speckled Wood nectaring on the yellow buddleia, which I was pretty chuffed about and at nearby Southbourne Undercliff there was a female Clouded Yellow busy egg laying on the slopes.
Today 10th November I visited Southbourne Undercliff and saw 5 Clouded Yellows, all males. Three of these were very fresh and bright, and I would think have recently emerged. The other two were not that badly worn either. I also saw female Painted Lady nectaring on Seaside Daisy. The day was crowned by a Long-winged Conehead cricket on Seaside Daisy as I was leaving.
It will be interesting to see how long butterflies are on the wing in this area. A friend of mine had January records of Holly Blue and Small White in 2013 at nearby Stanpit. Unfortunately the Holly Blue was found dead, but must had only recently emerged, I got a photograph of it after I received the phone call.
So I am hopeful of a long long season with Clouded Yellows and Red Admirals to keep me warm over the winter, at some stage of their life cycle.

Regards
Mike Gibbons
Last edited by False Apollo on Sun Nov 10, 2013 11:59 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Pauline
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Re: Clouded Yellows and Red Admirals

Postby Pauline » Sun Nov 10, 2013 7:05 pm

Hi Mike

Welcome to the site. Soon as I saw the reference to Christchurch I wondered if it was you. Great that you're seeing so many butterflies around still.

Best wishes

Pauline

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False Apollo
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Re: False Apollo

Postby False Apollo » Mon Nov 11, 2013 3:53 pm

Hi Pauline,
Nice to hear from you. Will probably catch up with you in 2014 to get that perfect Purple Emperor pic. I will be hoping for a few mild sunny days in December as I have seen Clouded Yellows flying well into that month. I will keep everyone posted on any sightings

Best wishes
Mike

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ChrisC
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Re: False Apollo

Postby ChrisC » Mon Nov 11, 2013 7:49 pm

welcome from me too Mike. Just up the road in Verwood.

Chris

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Pete Eeles
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Re: False Apollo

Postby Pete Eeles » Mon Nov 11, 2013 8:06 pm

Welcome to the website Mike - good to see another familiar face signing up :)

Cheers,

- Pete

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False Apollo
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Re: False Apollo

Postby False Apollo » Mon Nov 11, 2013 9:15 pm

Thanks to everybody for the warm welcome. It is interesting to know that there are members near me, whose faces I may well know, but not always their names. Nice to hear from both Chris and Pete.
I must take this opportunity to thank Pete for the wonderful Photographic Courses he runs. I learned a lot from Pete and the other photographic experts on the courses I attended. I had been on general digital photographic courses but they never understood about my passion for butterflies. So although I got a lot from those courses, it was Pete and the other photographers on the Butterfly Photographic courses that filled in the missing pieces on macro, composition and other lenses to use. Probably the most important thing I took away from the course was to try to use a tripod/monopod which certainly improved my results. So many thanks again Pete for organising the events as they were a great social get together as well.

Regards
Mike

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Pete Eeles
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Re: False Apollo

Postby Pete Eeles » Mon Nov 11, 2013 9:42 pm

Thanks Mike - I'm hoping we can run another event next year (if I can get time to organise this!), although the focus (pun intended) won't be on photography (this would be just one element of the day).

Cheers,

- Pete

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Re: False Apollo

Postby Wurzel » Mon Nov 11, 2013 10:14 pm

Alright Mike welcome :D Looking forward to your postings as I might be able to take advantage of your inside information and pop back across the county border to pick up some late butterflies or some early ones next season :D

Have a goodun

Wurzel

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Maximus
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Re: False Apollo

Postby Maximus » Tue Nov 12, 2013 6:27 pm

Hi Mike, its welcome from me too. Its interesting that you have a Strawberry Tree, our neighbour has one which has been attracting Red Admirals and Peacocks. The flowers are now starting to fade however, but a good late nectar source while it lasted.

Mike

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False Apollo
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Re: False Apollo

Postby False Apollo » Tue Nov 12, 2013 7:00 pm

Thanks for the welcome message, Wurzel and Maximus. The lovely tall Strawberry tree came with the house along with a mature tall sungold type yellow buddleia. The strawberry tree can hold Red Admirals into double figures, but only for a short period when it is flowering. As the fruits appear, numbers steadily go down. It seems to be a pretty old tree and is 25 to 30 feet in height. Red Admirals are only seen during the morning, around 9.00am to 12 or rarely 13.00pm after which the sun has moved.
I have buddleias dotted around the garden with Hebe Great Ormes and Midsummer Beauty (which are all still flowering), but it is now the back of the garage which is painted white which attracts Red Admirals and bumble bees to warm up during the mornings.

Regards
Mike

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False Apollo
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Re: False Apollo

Postby False Apollo » Wed Nov 13, 2013 6:29 pm

Super day in the garden and down by the seaside. I had to wait in for a parcel, so had plenty of time to search for Red Admirals in or near the garden. There were certainly 3, maybe 4. One was quite tatty but the rest were all intact and quite bright. I've posted some pics of Red Admirals and their preferred warming up spots.
In the afternoon, I went to Southbourne Undercliff where I met Mike Skelton who had seen 7 Clouded Yellows, mainly females, including 2 helice. These were in a slightly different spot to where I saw my males at the weekend which makes me wonder where they may have gone. These were all slightly worn, but had earlier been active. Mike kindly took me to a couple of spots where they had settled and I managed to snap the a couple, including a helice.

Regards
Mike
Attachments
Clouded Yellows helice (640x424).jpg
Clouded Yellow Nov 13 (640x424).jpg
Red Admiral on caravan. (640x424).jpg
Red Admiral on roof. (640x424).jpg
Red Admiral on garage. (640x424).jpg

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False Apollo
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Re: False Apollo

Postby False Apollo » Thu Nov 14, 2013 6:04 pm

Today was a fantastic day to go chasing Clouded Yellows. After getting the formalities out of the way, like photographing the latest Red Admiral on the back of the garage, I drove off to Southbourne to stroll along the prom and see what was about. With a keen wind but wall to wall sunshine and a Raven overhead, I was very hopeful as I had arrived earlier than yesterday.
As I made my way towards Hengistbury Head scanning the slopes, I found a male flying low down. I went over to get some photographs as it was nectaring on seaside daisy and as I approached I put up a helice female which really got him going. She held her wings wide open after he approached, but nothing happened. I don't know if she was spurning his approach or not, they both went their separate ways and settled as the temperature was still a bit low.
I carried on walking and found another typical female and a beautiful fresh male on seaside daisy, very nice!!!
Now WHAT HAPPENS TO CLOUDED YELLOWS IN WINTER????? I think I've found out why they suddenly disappear. Apart from the weather, I was reminded and shocked when I was watching a Dartford Warbler and Stonechats back at the place I saw my 5 males at the weekend. I could not see any Clouded Yellows until I suddenly saw a female Stonechat with a male Clouded Yellow in her bill. It must have been hiding in the grass somewhere, but stood out like a sore thumb to the keen eyed Stonechat. I have seen a Stonechat with a Clouded Yellow in it's bill before many years ago in early December here. So altogether I saw 5 Clouded Yellows from 11.00 to 13.00.
A very eventful morning.
Attachments
Great view.jpg
Nice to see the upperside
Stonechat.jpg
A closer view of lunch
helice and sutor.jpg
Helice and sutor?
Red Admiral Warming up.jpg
Red Admiral starting the motor
Stonechat with Clouded Yellow.jpg
Lunchtime for Stonechat
Helice female.jpg
A lovely lady
Male Clouded Yellow.jpg
Male Clouded Yellow
Last edited by False Apollo on Thu Nov 14, 2013 6:48 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Padfield
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Re: False Apollo

Postby Padfield » Thu Nov 14, 2013 6:12 pm

Fantastic picture of the stonechat.

My favourite autumn butterfly spot is frequented by black redstarts, fattening up before they head off south - though I think they've all gone now. When I visit I make a point of keeping as low a profile as possible. I know the butterflies will all die somehow as winter approaches and what better way to go than helping to keep a migrating bird alive?

Guy
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David M
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Re: False Apollo

Postby David M » Thu Nov 14, 2013 6:41 pm

Great photos for a mid-November day!

I'm sure with insect numbers on a continuous decline, brightly-coloured Clouded Yellows are targeted with particular zeal by hungry birds.

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False Apollo
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Re: False Apollo

Postby False Apollo » Thu Nov 14, 2013 7:02 pm

Yes Guy and David I agree that they are helping the local bird population out, but I rarely ever see Clouded Yellows being caught. I have been watching this area for many years so I guess they catch them when I'm not looking. It is interesting though that the areas I saw the majority today were not frequented by Stonechats as there is little or no scrub like gorse. So maybe they will be safer for longer. Clouded Yellows here are struggling when they do fly in these low temperatures if they fly at all. However the male was very keen on the helice and certainly moved sharpish chasing her around the slopes. I've added another pic with her wings open.

Regards
Mike

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Re: False Apollo

Postby Pauline » Thu Nov 14, 2013 8:41 pm

Great shot of the Stonechat Mike.

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False Apollo
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Re: False Apollo

Postby False Apollo » Tue Nov 19, 2013 5:08 pm

16/11/2013

Today was such a good day sunwise, I could not resist another visit to the undercliff. I counted 7 Clouded Yellows and 7 Red Admirals. There were no helice seen, but I did see an unusual female which I thought at first was an aberration. When I first saw it I thought it was a male paired with a helice, but on closer inspection I could see the left hind wing resembled a helice hind wing. It was particularly noticeable in flight.
I photographed it nectaring and at rest but spent an hour or so trying to get a photo of the open wings (somewhat unsuccessfully).
Studying the photos I now think it is not an aberration but a worn individual, the like I have not seen before. Looking closely the scales had been lost, possibly due to being exposed to the elements. This female really stood out in flight and could easily be separated from another which passed close by.
As I was taking the photos my close companion was a Dartford Warbler that was never that far away flicking it's tail before disappearing into cover for short periods.

Regards
Mike Gibbons
Attachments
Dartford Warbler.jpg
Dartford Warbler, my constant companion
Looking Right.jpg
Looking right
Unusual Clouded Yellow (1024x678).jpg
Looking left
In flight again.jpg
In flight again
Another flight view..jpg
Another flight view
Odd female Clouded Yellow in flight.jpg
Odd Clouded Yellow in flight

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False Apollo
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Re: False Apollo

Postby False Apollo » Tue Nov 19, 2013 5:24 pm

Today 19/11/2013, I saw 5 Clouded Yellows at Southbourne Undercliff. There were 4 females and a very active male. Considering the low temperature, they were very active, especially the male. The females behaviour consisted of either resting, nectaring or possibly egg laying (not a lot else they could do really except fly I suppose, which they also did). Another great day by the beach searching for butterfly gold!!!

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David M
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Re: False Apollo

Postby David M » Tue Nov 19, 2013 10:28 pm

This must be an exceptional micro-climate, False Apollo.

Most of the country has had it's first proper winter's day yet you're still seeing Clouded Yellows!!!

Maybe they DO survive our winters in these most sheltered, southern coastal locations after all.

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False Apollo
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Re: False Apollo

Postby False Apollo » Tue Nov 19, 2013 11:49 pm

Hello David,
Yes it is an exceptional micro-climate. In fact it must be one of the few places where (to a point) a northerly wind is the best because it blows over the cliff and does not affect the butterflies below, so long as the sun is shining of course. I am keeping my eye on this site because adults have been seen during December on sunny days. Today it was quite warm around 13.00, however the temperature will plummet with the slightest bit of cloud cover.
I must confess I did photograph one just after midnight one December using night vision on my camcorder after watching it settle down for the night earlier, just in case it was the last one recorded here that year, it wasn't though! The Isle of Wight is similar climate wise to Southbourne on the southern part of the island. Sheltered areas along the coast are certainly worth searching.
It is well known that Clouded Yellows overwinter here with larvae being seen and followed through the winter in past years. They have been found basking on days like this, not venturing very far from the foodplant where the egg had been laid.
It has had November Common Blue, Small Copper and Large White in the past.

Regards
Mike


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