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.
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 Bug - Coreus 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.
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
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.
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 Chrysalis
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).
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.
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
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.
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...
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.