Friday 27 May 2016

Fly x Bee

Very early this morning I drove over to Somerset to have a look at the hybrid Bee x Fly Orchids on the side of the A303.  I went early to avoid the bank holiday traffic, which was already building up on the way back to Devon and also to reduce the fear factor of of walking along the side of the A303 with its speeding traffic! It's worth it though as these orchids are simply stunning and I never get tired of seeing them and after having not visited the site last year another visit was well overdue. I couldn't see many Bee Orchids but it's probably still a bit early for them and the other parent, the Fly Orchid I couldn't find at all, although I didn't look that hard, so there may be some.

Some plants look quite like the parent Fly Orchid but 'on steroids' 
with much the same overall colouring.

Most however have a few more Bee Orchid genes in them
 giving them lovely pale pink sepals

Fly x Bee Orchid
I've said it before and I'll say it again it looks a bit like an evil purple alien teddy bear with an elaborate horned helmet on. I expect to hear... "take me to your leader" .. Yes, I'm just going for a nice lie down in a darkened room.

Thursday 26 May 2016

Noar Hill, Hayling Island and The New Forest

Here's a selection from a day spent in Hampshire on May 16th:

Noar Hill

Lots of Duke of Burgundy on the wing here with at least fifty seen. This was a real treat for me as I've only ever seen them in their Somerset sites where five is the highest number I'd seen.

Duke of Burgundy - Hamearis lucina

Green Hairstreak - Callophrys rubi

Small Heath - Coenonympha pamphilus

 Early Purple Orchid - Orchis mascula
Also available in pink and white.

Fly Orchid - Ophrys insectifera  
 The only Fly Orchid with a flower open was this strange coloured one with very little pigmentation

White Germander Speedwell - Veronica chamaedrys

Hayling Island

Bur Chervil - Anthriscus caucalis

Round-leaved Cranesbill - Geranium rotundifolium

 Grass Eggar Caterpillar - Lasiocampa trifolii

Mother Shipton - Euclidia mi

New Forest

Heath Dog Violet - Violet canina

Adderstongue Fern - Ophioglossum vulgatum
An unusual example with a split stalk looking even more like an adder's tongue

Wednesday 25 May 2016

Wood Whites at Branscombe and Plants at Bystock Pools

Yesterday we went to see Wood Whites at Branscombe, Under Hooken. There were about a dozen individuals on the wing including egg-laying females. I managed to get some nice photos of their courtship behaviour for the first time. There were absolutely loads of Holly Blues which was great to see as numbers have been rather low at other sites we've visited. Also a few Dingy Skippers, Common Blues and a single Wall. No sign of any Small Blues again this year. A few weeks ago I visited Bystock Pools nature reserve looking for Marsh Violet which I found in good numbers I also found Round-leaved Water Crowfoot.

Wood White - Leptidea sinapis
This is a female on Meadow Vetchling. She was just about to lay an egg but was disturbed by a male. He approached and commenced his courtship ritual of sticking out is proboscis and waving it and his antennae about. Eventually after having little response from the female (who had already mated) he went on his way and she was able to continue laying.

Wood White Ovum

 Male seen here waving his proboscis

Another encounter between a male and female and
again the male was rejected,despite some very impressive proboscis waving!

I can't visit Under Hooken in May and not take a photo of the rare and rather sumptuous
 Purple Gromwell - Lithospermum pupurocaeruleam

White-pinion Spotted - Lomographa bimaculata
A moth I've never seen before. 

Marsh Violet - Viola palustris

Round-leaved Water Crowfoot - Ranunculus omiophyllus 


Saturday 21 May 2016

Cotley Hill and Bentley Wood

Last Sunday we went to Cotley Hill in Wiltshire. We were hoping to see plenty of butterflies and in particular Marsh Fritillary. There were lots of butterflies on the wing and I saw my first Common Blue (they are very late this year), Grizzled Skipper and Green Hairstreaks of the year as well as Marsh Fritillaries. After Cotley we went over to Bentley Wood to look for an aberrant Pear-bordered Fritillary which had been seen there a couple of days earlier but we dipped. I did see a new plant though so not all bad. I also saw another two new plants on a couple of protected roadside verges.

Marsh Fritillary - Euphydryas aurinia

Grizzled Skipper - Pyrgus malvae

Burnet Companion - Euclidia glyphica

Green Hairstreak - Callophrys rubi

Common Heath Moth 
Having a bad day! 

Pearl-bordered Fritillary - Boloria euphrosyne

Water Avens - Geum rivale

Meadow Saxifrage - Saxifraga granulata

Dusky Cranesbill - Geranium phaeum