Sunday, 28 August 2016

Aston Rowant

A couple of weeks ago we paid a quick visit to the Aston Rowant reserve in the Chilterns on our way back from a few days in The Lake District (lots of stuff yet to to come from two trips there and a week in Scotland). We were hoping to see Silver-spotted Skipper which are usually abundant at this superb site and did see lots of them, but the highlight was seeing a female egg-laying and finding and getting photos of the egg. Chiltern Gentians were as stunning as always and being the Chilterns we had some superb views of Red Kite too.

Silver-spotted Skipper

Female Silver-spotted Skipper egg-laying on Sheep's-fescue

And the Egg 

Chiltern Gentian - Gentianella germanica

Red Kite showing well! 

Sunday, 21 August 2016

Ray's Knotgrass on Sidmouth Beach

I would never have imagined that I'd see a new plant species in Sidmouth and certainly not on the beach where there is very little vegetation to speak of, just a couple of very small patches. Yesterday though I received an e mail from Steve at ND&B telling me that he had been visiting Sidmouth while on holiday and had seen what looked like Ray's Knotgrass on the beach. He hadn't had chance to examine it though and suggested I go and take a look. I went down there today and indeed it was! There were two nice clumps right at the top of the beach near the path around to Jacob's Ladder. There are no previous records of it in Sidmouth that I know of but it has been seen further east at Weston Mouth and Salcombe Regis Beach. I've previously seen Sea Knotgrass on Hayling Island which is much rarer than Ray's but looks very similar, the differences are quite small. The stipules being conspicuous, longer than upper internodes and silvery with many veins on Sea Knotgrass while on Ray's Knotgrass they are shorter than internodes brownish in colour and silvery just at the tips. The seeds are slightly larger in Sea Knotgrass too and in both of these rare species they protrude above the top of the flower. Both species also have fleshy leaves which are more glaucous in Sea Knotgrass and in-rolled.

Ray's Knotgrass - Polygonum oxyspermum
Note: Small stipules green/brown in colour and a few slightly in-rolled leaves.

Sea Knotgrass - Polygonum maritimum
(Hayling Island Hants 2015) 

Note: Very conspicuous white stipules, longer than internodes with many veins and glaucous leaves heavily in-rolled.

Also today I spent a while watching a single Black-tailed Godwit feeding on Ragworms, I can still take photos of birds too!

Thursday, 11 August 2016

Butterflies at Alners Gorse

On Tuesday I visited Alners Gorse with Dave L hoping to see Brown Hairstreak, a butterfly I've only seen twice before, one occasion being at Alners gorse several years ago when we had superb view of several individuals nectaring on thistles. We weren't so lucky this time as the warm dry weather meant that there was plenty of honeydew on the leaves and so they remained up in the trees for most of the time. Never the less I got some nice photos, just not point blank ones. We also saw a lovely Valesina form of Silver Washed Fritillary.

I thought I'd get the photos on here more or less straight away rather than add them to the immense backlog of photos I have waiting on the hard drive. I really must try and get on top of it but with the pleasant weather at the moment I'm too busy out seeing stuff. Perhaps this will be the start of more regular blogging from now on.... or perhaps not.

 The beautiful array of wildflowers at Alners Gorse including a new species for me in the form of 
Pepper Saxifrage

Pepper Saxifrage - Silaum silaus

Silver-washed Fritillary form Valesina - Argynnis paphia

Male Brown Hairstreak superbly camouflaged on Lime looking like just another dead bract. 

Female feeding on honeydew from surface of leaf.

And from an acorn...

 And a twig...

 Brown Hairstreak - Thecla betula

Brimstone - Gonepteryx rhamni 

Small Skipper - Thymelicus sylvestris