Thursday 26 July 2012

His Imperial Majesty

After missing out on seeing HIM last year at Bentley Woods a return trip was in order. Although we had unbelievably good views of several female Purple Emperors last year (see here) a grounded male had eluded us. This year all that changed when we saw one within ten minutes of arriving just 100 or so yards from the car park. He was posing beautifully on a log, unfortunately it was a log of the dog variety! This was only a minor drawback though because seeing this amazing creature in all his glory took one's mind off his rather noisome choice of perch. His Imperial Majesty is well known for his penchant for substances that we humans find rather off-putting, another grounded individual that we didn't see was feasting on a putrefying rabbit, which someone had brought along with them in a bag!

A nice new information board on one of the woodland rides. We dipped the Broad-leaved Helleborine and Speckled Wood!

The light needs to be just at the right angle to see the purple colouring. Here it's hardly visible at all.

A bit more... and finally...

In all its glory! Just ignore what it's tucking into!
Or if your not of a squeamish disposition take a look at this close up.

You can actually see the droplets of mineral rich moisture or basically 'poo juice' making their way up along the proboscis. Lovely!

A more aesthetically pleasing shot.

And if seeing this beautiful male wasn't enough an Empress also put in a brief appearance at the same spot. Icing on the cake!


And here's a short video or possibly video nasty ... The saying goes " You can't polish a turd".  Well, you can stick a Purple Emperor on it! :-)

On Sunday we visited Alners Gorse in Dorset hoping to see White-letter Hairstreaks. There were plenty around but they were sticking to the treetops.

Alners Gorse isn't usually this busy. There was a Dorset Wildlife Trust field trip led by Mathew Oates.  This excitement was caused by Mathew spotting a mating pair of White-letter Hairstreaks high in the top of an elm tree. With this particular species something that is very rarely seen. I tried to get a record shot with my super-zoom..

You can see what they are, just!
One of those times I wished I'd bothered to bring my scope along.

To finish here's few more butterflies from the last few days.


 Marbled White

Small Skipper.

Not a butterfly obviously but definitely worthy of of photo Volucella zonaria.

Monday 16 July 2012

Silver-studded Blues and Stuff

Yesterday with  the forecast promising sunny intervals I decided to go and try my luck with Silver-studded Blues on the East Devon Commons. It was reasonably sunny when I left Seaton but when I arrived at the Silver-studded Blue site I was greeted with total cloud cover and it was unseasonably chilly in a northwesterly breeze. So what's new!? I didn't give up hope though because Silver-studded Blues are known to fly in less than optimum conditions. None were flying but as I walked around I did spot one or two hunkered down in the vegetation and eventually one fluttered up from by my feet and landed in view, allowing me to get a couple of photos. It even crawled onto my hand, which butterflies seem to do quite readily in cool conditions, seeking out the warmth. I also saw several Small Heaths,  a lone Small Pearl Bordered Fritillary and a Silver-washed Fritillary, which zoomed past. Unfortunately I'd forgotten to change the ISO setting on my camera after using it indoors and the photos are a bit grainy.

I think this is the first photo of a Small Heath I've put on this blog. They are just so easy to ignore when bigger and/or better butterflies are around.

A pretty worn out looking Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary, only the second I've seen this year.

Something I've never seen before 'in the wild' , the white form of Cross-leaved Heath.

After I got back to Seaton the weather improved dramatically with long sunny spells developing ... Oh Joy! I decided not to waste the opportunity and visited a nice meadow that I know of  on the outskirts of Beer. I was hoping to see  Marbled Whites and possibly some Pyramidal Orchids.  There was only one Marbled White but quite a few Meadow Browns, Ringlets and good numbers of Silver Y Moths. I also spotted my first Small Skipper of the year but it soon did a vanishing trick. The butterflies were very active patrolling for a mate rather than spending time nectaring so I had very few photo opportunities. I decided to photograph some flowers instead.

 Marbled White

Meadow Browns

 Usually seen on umbillifers, but in this meadow thistles were the flower of choice for Common Red Soldier Beetle orgies!

Most of the umbillifers I saw were covered with these colourful Mirid Bugs, Grypocoris stysi

Cut-leaved Crane's-bill 



 Field Scabious

Pyramidal Orchid

This afternoon I took Rex for a walk in the woods, and although it was raining I did see a few Meadow Browns, Ringlets and a Lovely Red Admiral. I didn't see any Silver-washed Fritillaries though and haven't seen any in any of the local woods this year yet.


 I also took a couple of photos of this common woodland plant today, which I like the name of.

Hedge Woundwort

I like the name because it always makes me think of  General Woundwort from Watership Down who utters my all time favourite 'famous last words'....

  Come back! Come back and fight! Dogs aren't dangerous!

Friday 13 July 2012

A Bit More of Seaton Falls Off! ( and Some Unidentified Moths)

There isn't going to be a lot of Seaton's lovely coastline left for visitors to explore this summer with another popular beach now cordoned off. After a landslip cut off access to the beach east of the harbour mouth last Saturday, continuing wet weather has triggered further landslips to the west of Seaton on the beach between The Chine and Seaton Hole. Yesterday morning ominous cracks had appeared in the tarmac on Beer Old Road like so...

This morning this had happened.....

Worryingly close to houses too.

I went down to Seaton Hole to see what the landslip was like at the beach end.

From the beach it isn't all that dramatic looking, ( it's the one in the foreground with the fallen tree) but looks as if it may well fall further. To the east of it there are three more landslips..

Four landslips along Seaton Hole beach. Further east ( right at the edge of the photo) workmen are removing some of the beach huts which were hit by another small landslip on Saturday. Not a good year to have a beach hut along here as this latest incident comes after some of them were damaged /destroyed by two separate gales earlier in the year.

I haven't had a lot of joy with the moth trap this year despite having a nice big garden. It's just been too cool, wet and windy most of the time. On the occasions when I haven't caught just water I've only caught moths in single figures. I don't have a rain guard for it  so nights when I dare leave it out are few and far between. The best catch I've had this year was last Thursday when I caught 97 moths. Nothing very exciting or new ( apart from a few micros ( new that is ...not exciting) but nice to have caught something this year. Trouble was it was so cold and wet on Friday and Saturday nights that I still had most of the moths on Sunday. They just wouldn't leave! 

Here's a few of the ones I photographed because they looked nice on the white wall.

 Ribband Wave

 Scorched Carpet

Nicely camouflaged Common White Wave

I think this micro is a Celypha lacunana

This one is Pseudarygrotoza conwagana. What a great name, that's if you can say it!!

I couldn't identify this one. Its not a very good photo I'm afraid but can anyone help? It was only about a cm long.

Tachystola acroxantha . Thanks Mark :-)

I took photos of a few micros while walking Rex near the River Coly a couple of weeks ago. This one I know..

Nettle TapAnthophilia  fabriciana

I thought this one was a Longhorn Moth of some sort but I couldn't find out which. I found other russet coloured ones similar to it but none that have the distinctive brown lines and pale patch. Any ideas?
EDIT: This is most likely a Long Horned Caddisfly. You live and learn.

No idea! Is it even a moth? Could it be a hairy fly? Smaller than the Nettle Tap.
 EDIT: Is it a Moth , is it a Fly?  No it's a Moth-Fly! Or Owl-Midge, I like that name better. Describes it brilliantly!  (Again thanks to Mark)

 Speckled Bush Cricket nymph.... Very well camouflaged.

Lychnis Moth larva .. Very greedy!