Silver-studded Blue

Silver-studded Blue
Silver-studded Blue, Iping Common

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Southwater Woods - Part III

Walking along the ride running east to west through Magdalen Wood at 9am today, one White Admiral near the gate and 2 Ringlets, plus what looked like two possible Purple Emperor's in the canopy above the first crossroads but unconfirmed; also in the Ash tree at this junction one Purple Hairstreak high in the treetop but unfortunately unable to get any resting views. Further along the ride we saw numerous Silver Washed Fritillaries, at least 2 more White Admiral's, another possible Purple Hairstreak, 2 Large Skippers, 1 Marbled White, 2-3 Ringlets, 1 Small Tortoiseshell, 2 Speckled Woods, 1 Red Admiral, 3-4 White sp., and many Meadow Browns. Back at the car park, we were afforded excellent views (albeit through binoculars) of a female Purple Hairstreak resting up in the treetop - what a fantastic looking butterfly(!) - and a Holly Blue.

Ringlet Aphantopus hyperantus
Large Skipper Ochlodes venatus
White Admiral Limenitis camilla
Meadow Brown Maniola jurtina

Monday, 27 June 2011

Petworth House, West Sussex

Maximising our recently purchased National Trust membership, we had a day out at Petworth House. A few butteflies seen whilst walking around the grounds including: Meadow Brown (numerous), Marbled White (1), White sp. (3-4), Skipper sp. (1), Red Admiral (1). The Red Admiral was very sedentary allowing some very close-up views, albeit with wings predominantly closed.

Red Admiral Vanessa Atalanta

Sunday, 26 June 2011

Graced with His presence (Southwater Woods - Part II)

On the Southwater Safari led by Neil Hulme today, a total of 14 species seen and for me 5 new species for the year, 4 lifetime (bold denote new species for year; underlined lifetime). In no particular order: Purple Emperor (3), Purple Hairstreak (2 very brief), White Admiral (3-4), Comma (1), Ringlet (2), Meadow Brown (many!), Holly Blue (1), Green-veined White (4-5), Silver Washed Fritillary, Marbled White, Large Skipper (4), Speckled Wood. Also seen by the group but not me, 1 Red Admiral and 1 Small Tortoiseshell. Thanks Neil for yet another fantastic trip and for imparting your knowledge. After a very brief glimpse of an individual Purple Emperor, flying powerfully through the canopy, we were lucky enough to see 2 males jostling for territory over the car park. I hope one day to see this fine butterfly resting but a fleeting glimpse will keep me satisfied until then.

Few photos taken today but quite pleased with this one of a male Large Skipper Ochlodes venatus.

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Small Blue

After reading Dan Danahar's post on the Sussex Butterflies website on June 5th 2011, I decided to visit the Chalk pit at Hollingbury Industrial Park to see if I could see the Small Blue. Although the numbers were much lower than Dan had reported earlier this month, I saw at least 10 Small Blues in the fenced off Nature Reserve (both sides of path) plus a good selection of other species including: 3 Large Skipper, 2 Small Tortoiseshell, 3 White Sp., and most surprising of all at least 6 Marbled Whites (with at least 1 female) feeding on the Knapweed Centaurea scabiosa. I also noted that a few individuals had damaged wings with one in particular, having almost all of one wing missing. Of note, I also observed one Small Blue ovipositing on a Kidney Vetch Anthyllis vulneraria. Thanks Dan!

 Small Blue Cupido minimus
Marbled White Melanargia galathea with damaged forewing

Monday, 20 June 2011

A ray of sunlight through the dark skies

Though the clouds appeared laden with rain, I decided to chance my luck with a brief photographic sortie up on Cissbury Ring, and I'm glad I did. On first arriving, a saw a lone Meadow Brown flitting amongst the damp grass but little else for 30 minutes or so, then as the skies cleared briefly more and more butterflies started to emerge from their slumber. A Large Skipper, which at first appeared 'frozen' to the spot, obiliged well; then a Marbled White and some more Meadow Browns started to appear. I also bumped into Dave Alder (hope I have got the spelling right) who pointed out a few Dark Green Fritillaries which must have been sheltering from the rain deep amongst the long grass in the southern most ditch.These were far more obiliging individuals than those I saw during the high temperatures last Tuesday and I was pleased to be able to get some good close up shots. Some maybe a bit too close! Looking at the photo I took last week, I believe that all the individuals I saw today were males, whilst last Tuesday although I saw many males I also saw and photographed 1 female. I also saw an unidentified caterpillar (a Burnet moth I believe), and to complete the trip, a very battered Common Blue in the southern ditch and 2 Small Heaths on the southern slope back to the car.

Large Skipper Ochlodes venata
Male Dark Green Fritillaries Argynnis aglaja

Marbled White Melanargia galathea

Saturday, 18 June 2011

Southwater Woods - Part I

Up very early this am with the little one, and as sun shining for a change I thought I head over to Southwater Woods to try catch up with the White Admirals and Silver-washed Fritillaries reported over the last few days. Walking west along the very muddy public bridleway, I spotted my first SWF after 5 minutes or so - 'mud-puddling'! This was going to be a good trip I thought to myself! Alas after another 1hr and half wandering around the wood aimlessly, I had only seen 2 more butterflies, 1 Meadow Brown and 1 Speckled Wood. As I had to report back home, I decided to call it a day and chance my luck another time. Walking back to the car, a little frustrated, I spotted not one but 3 more SWF's feeding on some bramble (allowing some good close-up views), another couple of Meadow Browns and a Speckled Wood. So no White Admirals this time but nonetheless a slightly happier man I returned home!

Also of note, I saw what I believe were Common Spotted Orchids - very pleased when this SWF landed on one of the Orchids(!) - and what I first thought were Orchids but now understand are Marsh Woundwort Stachys palustris (please see below)

Silver Washed Fritillery Argynnis paphia

  Marsh Woundwort Stachys palustris

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

The world of macro

Just bought a new macro lens (well swopped it for another lens) - a Tamron SP AF 90mm f/2.8 Di macro. Pretty pleased with results so far.

Also been playing around with the 'zoom and crop' tool in Capture NX2. Quite like the results!

to ...

And from this...

to this...

Not a butterfly but a good test of the macro lens nonetheless (Sigma EX 50mm f/2.8) and post-processing 'zoom and crop' with Capture NX2...

Fly on leaf

Fly on bird bath

In the media this week

Found the interesting article on the Large Blue:

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Cissbury Ring, West Sussex

Marbled White Melanargia galathea
Female Dark Green Fritillary Argynnis aglaja

Male Large Skipper Ochlodes venatus
Marbled White Melanargia galathea
Common Blue Polyommatus icarus

Small Skipper Thymelicus sylvestris
A glorious summers afternoon up on Cissbury Ring for the first time; what a great place and what stunning views. Butterflies were in abundance, with 5 new species for the year. Lots of Meadow Brown and Small Heaths in the meadow near the carpark and in/around the plateau. Also one fairly ragged Small Copper on the southern slope leading up to the plateau.

On the plateau itself I estimated at least 11 Dark Green Fritillaries in total, the southern ditch seemed to be the best spot for them. What an impressive and powerful looking butterfly, I only wish I could have had more than a fleeting view as they sped past. Alas, I was unable to get any great photos. Also in the southern-most ditch 2 Marbled Whites, 1 Small Skipper, 1 Brown Argus, and (I now know) a very tatty, Common Blue which I tried it vain to turn into a Small Blue. Other species on the plateau included a pair of mating Large Skippers, 2 Small Tortoiseshell, and 1 white sp.

Sunday, 5 June 2011

In the media this week

Just caught up with Wednesday's episode of Springwatch I missed; nice short video on Butterflies:

Click to watch Springwatch short film

Other news from the week - Female Butterflies close wings to avoid sex:

Click to read article in Nature

The Guardian asked its readers to capture the beauty of butterflies on camera:

Click to view reader's Butterfly photos

Saturday, 4 June 2011

Every Cloud has a Silver Lining

It is blue-butterfly day here in spring,
And with these sky-flakes down in flurry on flurry
There is more unmixed color on the wing
Than flowers will show for days unless they hurry.

But these are flowers that fly and all but sing:
And now from having ridden out desire
They lie closed over in the wind and cling
Where wheels have freshly sliced the April mire. 

Blue Butterfly Days by Robert Frost

Iping Common, June 4th 2011
Like many others I thought I'd try and catch up with the Silver-Studded Blues Plebeius argus at Iping Common. Up early as is the norm these days, I arrived at Iping Common around 8:15am, a little later than planned due in no part to getting slightly lost on route - really should of printed a map out!

It didn't take long before I saw my first SSB, much smaller than I had expected but nonetheless, a beautiful specimen. As it was still fairly early and the sun was hiding behind some clouds, it was very obiliging, just sitting contently on a blade of grass while I snapped away happily. Content, I moved to the other side of the track where I spotted a few more SSB's, including 2 females. The female was to my surprise much more attractive than the books would make you think, not just a little brown job. As the sun rays began to creep out from behind the cloud, the butterflies started to spread their wings. Instead of dull brown, they sheened bronze and golden-green. As the temperature started to increase so did the numbers of SSB I spotted. I probably saw 10-12 males, plus the 2 females in total between 8:15 and 9:30 but I didn't range to far from my initial spot so I expect there were many, many more. What a fantastic little butterfly.

Male Silver-Studded Blue on Heather