Tuesday 2 August 2011

Remember Me?

I'm afraid the blog's been put on the back burner of late, there just aren't enough hours in the day, or so it seems. I've been doing lots, especially looking at 'bugs' and so have lots of material to put on here on a 'rainy day', though probably not actually a rainy day because they're good for birding aren't they? For the moment I'll catch up with the last two weekends worth of goodies, which (shock, horror!) actually include a BIRD! 

Firstly last Sunday four of us made a visit to Portland hoping to see Chalkhill Blue and Lulworth Skipper. Chalkhill Blue was easy, being very abundant in the quarries there but Lulworth Skippers didn't show at all. We unexpectedly cut short our visit when news came in of the Stilt Sandpiper over at Lodmoor (only about a mile away). It wasn't showing when we got there and we spent a good while looking for it without any luck. Three of us were keen to head along the coast a bit to try another site for Lulworth Skipper but I suspected Bun  (being the desperate twitcher that he is) wanted to stay. Fortunately the bird was sighted again and so we dropped him off at the viewing spot and made our way to some cloudy, windswept cliff tops to the east of Weymouth where we got ... some nice exercise! Two hours later and still Lulworth Skipper-less we joined Bun who had a scope on the Stilt Sandpiper ready for us, but it was asleep. It eventually woke up and began to feed again but was often out of view behind vegetation. We'd only taken my tiny scope along as we weren't really expecting to do any birding, so digiscoping it was  probably going to be out of the question. I just couldn't help myself though, it had to be done. The results are predictably dire, I reckon I could have got quite decent shots with my big scope though. Hopefully it will move to the main scrape eventually, or even better, Black Hole Marsh.

The Chalkhill Blues were  only just beginning to emerge at Portland. This really recently emerged male was very lethargic and happy to crawl onto my hand.
The same butterfly back in the grass, you can see how 'new' he is because he's so furry and his antennae are still a bit kinked.
 Another pristine male.
Ringlet...Well, what's left of one. 
Always sad to see butterflies in this state.

Prepare to be amazed!
There is a Stilt Sandpiper in these photos, it's the black, white and ginger-ish area, towards the centre in each.
You can definitely see it here. 
The scope views were much better than these lame photos would suggest.

Yesterday, Dave, Doug and me went looking for Lulworth Skippers once more. On Sunday Bun and me had failed to find any on Portland again so there was nothing for it but to head for the Lulworth Cove/Durdle Door area where they are virtually guaranteed. This area is reputed to be swarming with thousands of them, but we only saw about half a dozen individuals. It does appear to be a bad year for Skippers, I've certainly seen much lower numbers of Small and Large Skippers than in previous years, probably to do with the very dry spring.
Lulworth Skipper country - swathes of sun-drenched grassland as far as the eye can see.
Just us, the butterflies, wild flowers and a gentle sea breeze... I wish!! Looking slightly to the left of Dave...
Lulworth Skippers were outnumbered about 100 to 1 by these. Durdle Door's certainly swarming with something, just not Lulworth Skippers! It is a beautiful stretch of coastline, though I think I'd visit in January to look at the scenery.
 Doug  photographing Durdle Door from a safe distance!
Nice beach... from a distance anyway!

Assorted Lulworth Skippers
I took this one photo of a Small Copper and was just about to delete it because it isn't really in focus, when I noticed the blue spots on the hind wing. This is the aberration called caeruleo-punctata, which is apparently not that uncommon although I've never noticed it before.

I'd soon had enough of the crowds at Durdle Door so we decided to head north to Alner's Gorse because we'd heard that Brown Hairstreaks had been seen there the day before. Dave and Doug had already been there on Saturday and seen Essex Skipper, another one I wanted to see. It couldn't have been more different to Durdle Door and we had the whole reserve all to ourselves for a couple of hours. We saw at least two Brown Hairstreaks, both of which were males and to say they were showing well is an understatement!  I put in a bit of effort chasing Skippers around until I finally caught up with an Essex Skipper, it wasn't easy sneaking up to try and get a photo of the underneath of the antenna from the front, especially as the weather was swelteringly hot and so they were a bit on the active side!
Essex Skipper
 Male Brown Hairstreaks
Here I'm taking a macro shot with Doug's compact camera. It was a bit breezy so I'm holding the thistle still with one hand. The butterfly seems totally oblivious.
Same butterfly on same thistle. This wasn't a macro shot though I stood back and used zoom, which helps get the dark featureless background. Worked quite well I think :-)

Apologies to anyone  who may have been reading this on Tuesday night. Some of it vanished for some reason. It's all here again now, hopefully to stay this time.

1 comment:

Rob said...

Butterflies galore! Good photos of the Lulworth and Essex (with black tips to antennae showing very clearly) Skippers - neither of which I've seen.