Onto July again quite busy but not as much as May and June as I had to pace myself a bit better.
July 2nd: Portland and Stobourgh Heath, Dorset.
An early morning start on Portland hoping to see the Large Tortoiseshell found the previous afternoon. Thought I was going to be out of luck but eventually it was spotted resting on the ground warming up in the first of the morning sunshine.
After a while it began nectaring on the Red Valarian along the side of the old railway cutting giving some great photo opportunities.
Large Tortoiseshell (No.54)
I also saw my first Gatekeeper (No.55) of the year.
On to Stoborough Heath where we were going to look for a couple of species of Clearwing using pheromone lures.
Pheromone lure attracting a couple of Sallow Clearwings
Sallow Clearwing - Synanthedon flaviventris
Red-tipped Clearwing - Synanthedon formicaeformis
Des Etangs' St John's-wort - H. x desetangsii
(Hypericum perforatum x maculatum)
July 3rd: Dartmoor and Dunsdon Reserve, Devon.
The day started with another visit to Aish Tor to see High Brown and Dark Green Fritillary. I was pleased to be able to get a nice underside shot of HBF.
High Brown Fritillary
Then onto Dunsdon Reserve to look for Whorled Caraway.
Superb Culm Grassland on the Dunsdon Reserve.
The white flowers here are the plant we were looking for...
The leaves of this plant are very distinctive, very fine and feathery and quite difficult to photograph. The flower heads were popular...
A beautiful big Garden Orb Weaver - Araneus diadematus
Common Red Soldier Beetle - Rhagonycha fulva
Whorled Caraway - Carum verticillatum
Then a drive back over Dartmoor stopping off at the stream in Merrivale to see..
Which doesn't actually smell. It was obviously originally named for its smell but at some stage mysteriously lost it.
A naturalised alien from North America. Much smaller flowered than its close relative Monkeyflower.
Musk - Mimulus moschatus
July 5th: Sidmouth
Sitting at home on the sofa, camera with 400mm lens in hand, I took these not so good (but hey, they were from the sofa!) photos of Purple Hairstreak. I could see at least eight individuals, mostly males having aerial battles, around the top of a large oak tree.
A very nice window tick!
July 6th,7th & 8th: Surrey, Kent, Essex, Buckinghamshire & Oxfordshire
First Stop Inholme Claypits, Surrey, where we saw the introduced population of the very aptly named Starfruit.
Starfruit - Damasonium alisma
Then it was on to Romney Marshes again, and again this was due to Owen Leyshon telling us of the location of a plant we wanted to see. This was Fine-leaved Water-dropwort. After searching for and failing to find this plant at a few sites I spotted photos of it on Owen's Twitter feed. I asked him where it was and he gave me directions to that and a few other interesting plants in the area.
Fine-leaved Water-dropwort - Oenanthe aquatica
There was quite a spectacular stand of it in this small pond on some sheep pasture. Hence the nosy sheep!
Here's some more in a nicely vegetated drainage ditch along with some beautiful Flowering Rush
Flowering Rush - Butomus umbellatus
The following morning we visited an arable field in Borstal, hoping to see Bean Broomrape
. I had directions but was worried we would be too late as I'd seen pictures of it in flower a couple of weeks earlier.
We very nearly were!
Bean Broomrape - Orobanche crenata
Next stop Benfleet again because we wanted to see the Southern Migrant Hawkers again now that they would be in there full breeding colour.
I spent ages trying to get a flight shot but without a plain backdrop it was infuriatingly difficult. This is the only one I got. Look closely. He has a crushed eye. Looks nasty!
We found this pair in tandem ovipositing, in a totally dried out ditch.
Southern Migrant Hawker - Aeshna affinis
Ruddy Darter - Sympetrum sanguineum
Next stop Bernwood Meadows, Buckinghamshire. The highlight here was getting some great views of Purple Hairsteak, which seemed to be taking minerals or moisture perhaps (it was very hot) from lichens on the branches of a hawthorn tree. Whatever they were doing there was plenty of competition for the best spot, because we saw two males appearing to fight over one of them.
As you can see he is probing beneath the lichen, and whatever it was he didn't want to share.
I wish I'd videoed this it was quite comical.
They were each trying to push the other, never seen anything like it before.
The following morning we moved up the road a bit to Bernwood Forest for a quick look around before moving on to Aston Rowant in Oxfordshire where we saw our first Chalkhill Blues of the year.
Brown Hawker - Aeshna grandis
Chalkhill Blue (No.56)
This freshly emerged female Burnet Moth
was found by a male whilst still on her pupa case
Large Skipper egg.
Whilst on our way back to the car we spotted what looked like some small bees congregating on the compacted path. On closer inspection they turned out to be the Downland Villa, a type of Bee-fly. These were rare a few years ago, and only found on sites such as this in the Chilterns, but are one of those species which seem to be increasing their range.
Downland Villa - Villa cingulata
July 10th: Alners Gorse, Dorset.
Off to Alners Gorse to look for Valezina form of Silver-washed Fritillary.
Female Silver-washed Fritillary
Female Silver-washed Fritillary form valezina
A female valezina with three males in tow.
July11th: Godlingston Heath, Dorset.
Off to Godlingston Heath looking for inverts, such as Purbeck Mason Wasp
, Heath Tiger Beetle
and Mottled Bee-fly.
The habitat looked good but we weren't having a lot of luck, we did have a brief view of Mottled Bee-fly but I didn't manage to get a photo.
What we did see was totally unexpected. Casually sauntering across the track right at our feet was this beast...
Large Velvet Ant - Mutilla europaea
Not an ant but a wasp. This is the flightless female. It is quite a rare find in the UK
July 13th: Hartland Moor, Dorset.
Two days later we were back in Purbeck, looking for the same targets but this time trying our luck at Hartland Moor. We did really well here, finding all three and a few bonuses too!
Heath Tiger Beetle
- Cicindela sylvatica
Mottled Bee-fly - Thyridanthrax fenestratus
Purbeck Mason Wasp - Pseudepipona herrichii
This male fly wasn't going to have much luck.
Crab Spider - Thomisus onustus
- Philanthus triangulum.
Carrying Honeybee - Apis mellifera
July 17th: Wareham Common,Dorset.
Off to the River Piddle at Wareham Common to look for River Water-dropwort
The lovely River Piddle a botanists delight.
If only more rivers looked like this. The white flowers are the ones we were looking for ...
River-water Dropwort - Oenanthe fluviatilis
Underwater shot of what I think are Minnows in the River Piddle
July 18th: Portland and The Fleet, Dorset.
A visit to Portland to look at the Chalkhill Blues.
Newly emerged male on a Carline Thistle
Male aberration (ab. suavis)
with orange spots at the base of the hind wings.
Then on to The Fleet to see the scarce plant Longleaf, not native but naturalized in this locality.
Unfortunately it looks like a large portion of the plant as fallen down the small cliff and is in danger of being washed away. It has such fine delicate flower-heads that it is very difficult to photograph.
Longleaf - Falcaria vulgaris
A Tachinid Fly - Eriothrix rufomaculata
on Sea Aster - Aster tripolium
July 24th: Broughton Down, Hampshire.
A visit to one of my favourite sites to look for butterfly number fifty-seven on the year list ....
Silver-spotted Skipper (No.57)
Wild Basil - Clinopodium vulgare
A white, or if you like very, very, very light pink form.
July 31st: Ballard Down, Dorset.
Finally on the last day of the month a look around at Ballard Down, where the highlight was seeing and also getting a photo of Western Bee-fly. I'd seen some here the previous year but they were too quick to get a photo. This one was definitely not looking his best...
Western Bee-fly - Bombylius canescens
Having a bit of a "bad hair day."