Monday 28 July 2014

Violet Helleborine

Yesterday I had to go to Winchester again and again I made the most of being in Hampshire and made a small detour to look for Violet Helleborine, which would be a new orchid species for me. There was a site I'd heard of not many miles to the east where they grow along the road verges in a residential area, so a bit of a drive by job really. It was very early in the morning and there wasn't really enough light. Most of my photos didn't turn out at all well but a few were okay. I was really pleased to catch a wasp nectaring on one of the spikes and coming away with the pollinia firmly attached to its head.

Violet Helleborine - Epipactis Purpurata

Wasp (can't tell which species) pollinating Violet Helleborine flower

She spent a while trying to rub this large mass of pollen and pollinia off with her legs but was a bit clumsy seeming to be drunk. The nectar of the orchid has narcotic properties and it certainly showed!

Saturday 26 July 2014

Arable Weeds, Chalkhill Blues and A Few Local Bits 'n' Bobs

I've been out quite a bit lately on my days off but just haven't had the time to post anything on here, I shouldn't keep allowing it to build up as it results in massive posts that take me ages. Oh well, here goes. Last Sunday I visited two sites over the border in Somerset looking for new plants and in particular rare 'arable weeds'. Firstly I visited Fivehead Arable Fields a Somerset Wildlife Trust reserve and later in the day Lytes Cary Manor run by the National Trust. I didn't see everything I'd hoped to but did manage to see several of my target species plus lots of other less rare species.

Fivehead Arable Fields

Shepherd's NeedleScandix pecten-veneris

Broad-leaved SpurgeEuphorbia platyphyllos

Dwarf Spurge - Euphorbia exigua

Spreading Hedge Parsley - Torilis arvensis

Slender TareVicia parviflora

Round-leaved FluellenKickxia spuria 

Narrow-fruited CornsaladValerianella dentata

Field Madder -Sherardia arvensis

Meadow Vetchling - Lathyrus pratensis

Wild Basil - Satureja vulgaris

 Cultivated Flax - Linum usitatissimum

 This was growing in one of the fields on the Lytes Cary estate where all the arable fields have broad headlands. I was a bit late in the season though and I didn't see many arable weeds, the very dry conditions didn't help either. 

Grass Vetchling - Lathyrus nissolia

Arrowhead - Sagittaria sagittifolia on the River Cary.

 On Monday I when to Portland to look for Chalkhill Blues, there were quite a lot on the wing, with 'on the wing' being the appropriate phrase because they didn't stop that often. It's never easy trying to get photos of butterflies in very hot and sunny conditions and even when they did pitch it was usually with wings closed.

Chalkhill Blue Polyommatus coridon

Courtship Action Shot

Female Broad-bodied Chaser - Libellula depressa  

A few bits from the garden.

 Common Blue - Polyommatus icarus

Eristalinus sepulchralis 

Banded General Soldier Fly - Stratiomys potamida

 A Token Bird.
 A smashing Wood Sandpiper on Black Hole Marsh first thing this morning, one of two in the valley, the other being on Colyford scrape. Hopefully one will come near enough for a better photo before the end of the autumn.

Wednesday 16 July 2014

Alners Gorse and a Few Local Bits

On Monday I decided to have a look around at Alners Gorse, the brilliant Butterfly Conservation reserve in Dorset. It was very hot and sunny which meant that most butterflies were turbo charged and photo opportunities were few and far between. I did manage to get a few though and there are plenty of nice plants too!

Essex Skipper - Thymelicus lineola

Small Skipper - Thymelicus sylvestris

Gatekeepers - Pyronia tithonus

Purple Hairstreaks were showing well coming low to nectar on Alder Buckthorn flowers.

Purple Hairstreak - Neozephyrus quercus

The White-letter Hairstreaks weren't so accommodating though and although there were lots of them they stayed put high up in the Elms.

White-letter Hairstreak - Satyrium w-album
Seen here taking honeydew from the surface of a leaf. The reason they seldom venture down onto low vegetation to feed.

Betony Stachys officinalis

 Dyer's Greenweed - Genista tinctoria

Sneezewort - Achillea ptarmica

Yesterday I went to Bystock to look for a new plant for me, namely Lesser Skullcap.
It's pretty tricky to find if you're not aware of just how small it is.

Lesser SkullcapScutellaria minor

 Common Centaury - Centaurium erythraea

Six-spot Burnet Moths - Zygaena filipendulae

Also a few bits and pieces from the local patch.

 Enchanter's Nightshade - Circaea lutetiana

 Red Soldier Beetle - Rhagonycha fulva on
Fool's Watercress - Apium nodiflorum

 Marsh Ragwort - Senecio aquaticus

 An unusual pale lilac form of Selfheal - Prunella vulgaris

Golden-ringed Dragonfly - Cordulegaster boltonii

 Juvenile Common Buzzard

Juvenile Reed Warbler