Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Black Hairstreak

On Monday morning five hopeful, optimistic even, folk set forth from a rain soaked and miserable Devon towards the Oxfordshire/Buckinghamshire border where they would no doubt find blue skies, fluffy white clouds and Black Hairstreaks. Happily all three were available in abundance despite the not so optimistic weather forecasts over the weekend. The Black Hairstreaks tend to be concentrated in a few discrete locations throughout Whitecross Green Woods but these are not very well publicized at the reserve. Fortunately these areas are easy to find out about on t'internet so we located them easily enough. The middle of June is usually the time that Black Hairstreak would be starting to emerge but we had been a little concerned that we could already have been too late as they were first seen in these woods on the 26th of May or thereabouts. We saw about ten in total seven of them in the one small area, most were getting very tattered and torn but a couple were still in good condition with a total compliment of tails. Some even ventured low enough in the bushes for photos and as the day wore on several congregated together on a single clump of bramble flowers. All in all a great day out, nice reserve, good company and a brilliant butterfly lifer! There was just one little spoiler to all this positivity and that was meeting 'The Wicked Witch of Whitecross Woods'. Okay, that's perhaps a little unfair, perhaps she was just having a bad day (we all have them) but as the volunteer warden she shouldn't really bring it to work with her. I'm sorry to say (and it wasn't just my impression) that she came across as a humourless crone, not at all helpful and transparently resentful of any visitors to 'her' reserve. I'm not saying she doesn't do a good job in other ways but her public relations skills are non-existent. Anyway here's a few photos of the star attraction, the Black Hairstreaks.

 A couple were in good condition like this female.
And this, also a female I think.
More had been through the wars a bit, like this one.
 Remarkably hairy!
 This one is showing one of their feeding methods, walking along a leaf dragging its tongue along between its legs picking up the honeydew residue from the leaf's surface.
Some were also nectaring on bramble flowers.
 This female looks to be in good condition but on the other side has a big piece of wing missing.. so, giving a rare glimpse of the upper-wing colour though. Her she can be seen egg-layeing on the stem of a blackthorn
And here...
and again here.
The one on the left looks to have survived a bird attack with a nice beak-shaped hole through both of the wings!
Totally unrelated, a pair of Green-veined Whites photographed yesterday in  The Ashclyst Forest. Where I saw my first Silver-washed Fritillaries of the year but no White Admirals or Purple Hairstreaks yet.


kirstallcreatures said...

Another great find Karen, Linda

Karen Woolley said...

Thanks Linda, always great to see an new species! :-)