Wednesday, 3 April 2019

Highlights of 2018: May

Thought I'd better get something from last year on here as I have stuff from this year beginning to build up already! Unfortunately ill health prevented me from updating over the winter months like I usually do. There's lots to get through so I'll have to post in a day by day diary style, not the most imaginative but sorting into categories would take up even more time that I haven't got. I was also doing a butterfly year list again. First Sightings all followed by number.  So here we go:

May 1st: Noar Hill, Hampshire

Second trip of the year here, this time looking for Duke of Burgundy,(No.12) which was seen but only small numbers. I also saw my first Red Admiral (No.13) of the year on Portland.


May 2nd: Ballard Down, Dorset and Martin Down, Hampshire

A visit to Ballard Down in the morning where I saw my first Green Hairstreak (No.14) and Wall (No.15) of the year. Also the first mating pair of Speckled Wood that I've ever seen and a Scarlet Tiger caterpillar tucking into a gorse flower. Also a striking looking but quite commonplace beetle Cantharis rustica.

In the afternoon we visited Martin Down where we saw some more Green Hairstreaks, Early Purple Orchids and some stunning Pasqueflowers. This was the first time we have found the flowers on the Dorset side of the border here.

May 6th: Cotley Hill, Wiltshire

No photos from here but gets a mention for my first Grizzled Skipper (No.16) sighting of the year. 

May 8th:  Longfield, Denge Wood and Freizland Wood, Kent.

A weekend trip to Kent and first stop an arable field near Longfield in Kent to look for the rare Grey Mouse-ear, following directions kindly given to us by finder Dave Steere ( a link to Dave's blog to the left). The plants are small and difficult to spot. The grey in their name comes from their greyish appearance from a distance which is caused by a dense covering of hairs as you can see.

Grey Mouse-ear - Cerastium brachypetalum

Then onto Denge Wood to see the Duke of Burgundy and Lady Orchids

Duke of Burgundy caught in flight

Other interesting finds were 
False Ladybird - Endomychus coccineus 
 One of the very aptly named Handsome Fungus Beetles
Black-spotted Longhorn Beetle - Rhagium mordax
Wavy-barred Sable - Pyrausta nigrata

Finally onto Friezland Wood near Tunbridge Wells where we saw a couple of new plants ( again thanks to Dave for help with directions) They were Coralroot and Large-flowered Bittercress.

Coralroot  - Cardamine bulbifera


Large-flowered Bittercress - Cardamine amara

May 9th: New Forest, Hampshire 

On the way back from Kent the following day we had time for a quick visit to the New Forest to look for Water Violet, a very rare plant in the New Forest if not elsewhere. 

Water Violet - Hottonia palustris

May 12th: Portland and Badbury Rings, Dorset. 

A quick look at Bottomcombe on Portland was rewarded with my first Small Blue (No.17) of the year. There were a few about including this one...

The smallest Small Blue I've ever seen!

Then onto Badbury Rings, where the sun never came out as hoped for and butterflies we difficult to see but on the plus side were easy to get nice photos of. I saw my first Dingy Skipper and Small Heath of the year too.

Grizzled Skipper

Excellently camouflaged Dingy Skipper (No.18)
Small Heath (No.19)

May 13th: Ramshorn Down and Branscombe, Devon. 

Off to Ramshorn Down on the edge of Dartmoor in the morning to look for Pearl-bordered Fritillary (No.20)

Dock BugCoreus marginatus

And in the afternoon the annual pilgrimage to Branscombe undercliffs to see the Wood White (No.21) nectaring on the rare Purple Gromwell like so...

This Dark-edged Beefly wanted to get in on the act too! 

Also of note at Branscombe was my first Clouded Yellow of the year (No.22)

May15th: Hartslock, Oxfordshire. Conholt Hill, Wiltsire and Badbury Rings, Dorset.

Our first ever visit to Hartslock to see the Lady x Monkey Orchids. We were also hoping to see Club-tailed Dragonfly but didn't have any luck with those (probably a bit too early).

 The single Lady Orchid surrounded by her hybrid offspring.

The other parent the amazing Monkey Orchid.
 There were quite a few of these.

The hybrids 

Next stop was Conholt Hill in Wiltshire where we went to look for Duke of Burgundy yet again. You can't see too many Dukes!!

Also this beautiful Meadow Saxifrage - Saxifraga granulata

On the way home we stopped for another look around Badbury Rings. No photos from here but  counts of 48 Dingy Skipper, 32 Grizzled Skipper and 16 Small Heath were notable. I also saw my first Common Blue of the Year (No.23).

May 17th: Bystock Reserve, East Devon. 

I popped in to this nearby nature reserve for a quick visit and saw my first ever Brimstone egg and an interesting beetle.

Polydrusus cervinus (I believe)

May18th: Noar Hill, Hampshire and Tugley Wood, Surrey. 

Third trip of the year to Noar HIll (there always plenty to see) including...

Yet another Duke!

Duke of Burgundy Eggs

Early Longhorn Moth - Adela cuprella with Orange Tip egg in background.

Burnet Companion

Mating pairs of Juniper Sheildbug - Cyphostethus tristriatus
White form of Germander Speedwell

Fly Orchid - Ophrys insectifera

Then onto Tugley Wood in Surrey to look for Wood White again
Wood White courtship behaviour

Male Rhyssa persuasoria.  
A very large and impressive Sabre Wasp, a parasite of the Giant Wood Wasp.
I saw several of the even larger females during the year but couldn't manage a photo. One day! 

Speckled Yellow moth on Pink Bluebell
May 20th: Isle of Wight.

Off to the Isle of white for Glanville Fritillary (No.24). Plenty seen at Bonchurch after waiting a couple of hours for the sun to appear. Also my first Adonis Blue (No.25) of the year. Also saw a Glanville Fritillary pupa for the first time too.

Glanville Fritillary

Glanville Fritillary Chrysalis 

Adonis Blue 

Common Blue

A Jumping Spider - Heliophanus sp.

A Wall Lizard

Hoary Stock - Matthiola incana

May24th: Glasdrum Wood, South Shian, and Allt Mhuic, North West Scotland.

Off to Scotland for a few days and first stop Glasdrum Wood for the Chequered Skipper (No.26).

 Chequered Skipper

White-spotted Sable - Anania funebris

After Glasdrum a quick visit to South Shian where we were too early for any Marsh Fritillaries but I got a couple of good shots of a female Orange Tip.

Then onto Allt Mhuic another good site for Chequered Skipper and very Scenic too!                                  

Green Hairstreak
Chequered Skipper

Highland Cow at Allt Mhuic.... 

...with her own swarm of flies!

On the way back to Fort William a quick stop to take a snap of Ben Nevis 

May 24th: Starthy Dunes and Point, North Coast Scotland.

A long, long drive from Fort William to the north coast. We stopped briefly for a rest along the shore of Loch Ness and found a lovely big patch of Tuberous Comfrey. It appears to be quite common in Scotland with swathes of it along the road verges of the A9 near Stirling, which we noticed on our drive home a few days later.

Tuberous Comfrey - Symphytum tuberosum

On to Strathy Dunes to look for Scottish Primrose. We couldn't find any but there were some nice dwarfed examples of Northern Marsh Orchid.

Northern Marsh Orchid - Dactylorhiza purpurella

Strathy Beach with Strathy Point in the background, our next site to search for Scottish Primrose we had seen a single flower here in a previous year so had high hopes.

We weren't disappointed either. This whole area is almost a lawn of Scottish Primrose plants, many were in flower too! They're far too small to see in the photo though.

They are very small indeed!

 And very pretty!

An absolute delight!
One of my favourites and most definitely worth the journey to see it!

Scottish Primrose - Primula scotica

A colourful Click Beetle -  Ctenicera cuprea

Although very early for it we managed to find a few flowers of the rare Purple Oxytropis on the west facing cliffs.

Purple Oxytropis - Oxytropis halleri

May 25th: Migdale Rocks, Ardesier Common, and the Abernethy area, Scottish Highlands.

First stop of the day was Migdale Rocks, where we were hoping to see Rock Cinquefoil, we found some eventually but it is quite difficult to photograph as the lower plants weren't yet in flower. Nevertheless it was great to see it here  at a location where it is thought to be a native plant.

As you can see it's very tricky to spot from any distance. 
It's on the ledge in front of the brightly lit Oak. 

Rock Cinquefoil - Potentilla rupestris

Next stop was Ardesier Common where the Coralroot Orchids were out in good numbers.

Coralroot Orchid - Corallorhiza trifida

Dingy Skipper on Star of Bethlehem - Ornithogalum umbellatum

Then Finally a late afternoon visit to one of the the Dragonfly pools in the Abernethy Forest area. Here I was hoping to see my first ever White-faced Darters and again I wasn't disappointed. Also saw my first ever Raft Spider.

While looking for Lesser Twayblade on a roadside bank I spotted this Oak Fern which was a new one for me.

Immature male White-faced Darter

Another immature male.

Mature male with exuviae.

White-faced Darter - Leucorrhinia dubia

Raft Spider - Dolomedes fimbriatus

May 26th: Latterbarrow, Cumbria. Gait Barrows, and the River Lune, Lanchashire  

On the way home we stopped off for a day in the north of England. Firstly a visit to  the Latterbarrow reserve.

White Spotted Sable - Anania funebris

Common Purple and Gold - Pyrausta purpuralis

Best find at Latterbarrow was this scarce Hoverfly...

Microdon myrmicae

Then on to Gait Barrows reserve where we were hoping to find Angular Solomons Seal in flower and also the Scarce Purple and Gold moth.

Success! It does actually flower.

An amazing three flowers on this one.

Angular Solomon's Seal - Polygonatum odoratum 

Silver-barred Sable - Pyrausta cingulata 

Scarce Purple and Gold - Pyrauta ostrinalis

Final stop of the day was the River Loon at Caton, Lancashire where a walk of a few kilometres along the bank to a small wood led to our first sighting of Wood Stitchwort a very rare plant in the south but quite common in this area. Not many plants due to a lot of bank erosion and a devil to photograph in the deep shade.

Wood Stitchwort - Stellaria nemorum

May 30th: Leigh Woods, and Sampford Arundel, Somerset.

A day out botanising in Somerset, firstly a visit to Leigh Woods near the Avon Gorge to look for Narrow-leaved Bitercress, one of the rarer species of Bittercress. We eventually found a large patch on the ramparts of Stokeleigh Camp. Only very thin petals on the white flowers and sometimes none, but quite an impressive sized plant about 80cm in height

Narrow-leaved Bittercress - Cardamine impatiens

Then onto the small village of Sampford Arundel and the Westwood Stream to see a  colony of the introduced Greater Cuckoo Flower.

Greater Cuckooflower - Cardamine raphanifolia

And that's it a brief summary of the month of May. A very busy June will have to be in two parts. 


Jonathan Hutchins said...

Dear Karen, delighted to see a new post on your blog (which I re-read in its entirety a few months ago). And stunning, stunning photos. It's solely due to WW&W that I tentatively took up botanising in the New Year in addition to birding...

Skev said...

Great shots Karen, you certainly made the most of getting out and about by the looks of it.

Brian Hicks said...

That was a full on month! Great shots as usual Karen.

Karen Woolley said...

Jonathan - Blimey! You read the whole blog, must have taken ages! I'm glad you like it. You wont regret botaninsing, there's so much to learn.

Thanks Mark and Brian. It's good to receive feedback. I can't believe anybody's still reading it! :-)