Category Archives: Butterflies

Demons Of The Swamp Vol.3

Fans of The Cramps will get the title and if you don’t like The Cramps a. What is wrong with you? b. Why are we friends? Maybe we’re not.

Anyway, a blog post. First in a year? Does anyone still read blogs? If so read on.

Yesterday I went on my first twitch in absolutely ages. What did I twitch? A Purple Swamphen Porphyrio porphyrio, some call it Western Swamphen, I still prefer Purple Gallinule. Will it ever be accepted onto the BOU British List? I doubt it but then Chinese Pond Heron made so maybe.

Anyway one arriving at RSPB Minsmere we were soon watching Sizewell B Nuclear Power Station. I mean the Swampmonster.

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Sizewell B

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Purple Swamphen

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Purple Swamphen

After a while of watching the Swampdonkey walk round a pool a sort of purple haze descends on a man and it was time to head off to the visitor centre to buy some china tea cloths or something and a coffee and bacon butty.

Around the centre, as well as the stench of composting toilets, are lots of Buddleia bushes. These attracted a steady stream of insects and a steady stream of photographers.

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Migrant Hawker

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Migrant Hawker

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Migrant Hawker

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Peacock & Red Admiral

By now we needed to see more birds and better insects so yomped a whole 300m to look at the Stone Curlew, two adults and a chick. Can’t be too many places you can see Purple Gallinule and Stone Curlew in the same reserve.

Back towards the centre we dipped Pantaloon Bee but scored with the Beewolves and a bonus if somewhat shy Purple Hairstreak.

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Beewolf

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Beewolf

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Purple Hairstreak

We finished our day watching a pair of Honey Buzzard put on a full flight display over Westwood Lodge at Walberswick. The three lifers in the day Brian Moore’s granddaughter Rosie certainly hit a purple patch!

All photos were either iPhonescoped (still or 4K video) or taken using the camera on the iPhone 6S. Stills from video were taken using the StillShot app.

 

 

 

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Bookshelf

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Britain’s Butterflies: A field guide to the butterflies of Britain and Ireland (Third Edition)

David Newland, Robert Still, Andy Swash and David Tomlinson

Wildguides/Princeton University Press 240pp. 600+ colour photos. 76 maps.

£17.95

ISBN 9780691166438

Having first been published in 2002 and with a second edition in 2010 it is somewhat surprising that this book has passed me by. That maybe in some way to do with me preferring artist illustrated guides to photo guides. I feel I must now put my old prejudices aside as the Wildguides series are fantastic. Digital photography has improved immeasurably since I first started with a 4 megapixel camera and consequently staging images now is much more naturalistic and almost like being in the field.

Britain’s Butterflies starts with a discussion on how butterflies differ from moths before looking at butterfly biology, overwintering and migration. The next section the covers butterfly habitats illustrated with photographs and discussion on the types of butterflies to be found there. There is also a quick guide to butterflies and the habitats they favour and a key places for rare and localized butterflies chart with basic site details.

The main body of the book is made up of the species accounts with each species getting two pages with the text facing the identification plates. This also allows confusion species to be compared such as Small and Essex Skipper. The text covers adult identification, behaviour, breeding habitat, population and conservation. Egg, caterpillar and chrysalis and foodplant. A side bar features distribution maps, life cycle charts and where to look text boxes. All this information is well presented and easily read.

At the end of the resident species we also get a section on former breeding species and occasional migrants, this is very up-to-date and covers the mini invasion of Scarce Tortoiseshell from summer 2014 on the east coast. A short section on records of dubious origin follows this.

Towards the end of the book there is a very useful, illustrated, section on larval foodplants that I found extremely useful as my botanical knowledge is very poor. This section aslo includes a chart listing nectar and larval foodplants. Following is an illustrated guide to eggs, caterpillars and chrysalis. Again this is an area that I must admit to neglecting in the past as I had no handy reference.

The final chapters cover butterfly watching and photography, Butterfly Conservation, recording and legislation. A useful section on further reading concludes the book.

There are plenty of field guides on the market to help you identify Britain’s butterflies and each will have their own choice of what to take out into the field but I would recommend this gem of a book to anyone and I look forward to road testing it when the weather improves and the butterfly season gets underway.

Nymphomaniac

A few more photos from Sunday at Bloody Oaks Quarry – this time of butterflies from the Nymphalidae family.

Silver-washed Fritillary

Silver-washed Fritillary

Silver-washed Fritillary

Silver-washed Fritillary

Silver-washed Fritillary

Silver-washed Fritillary

Peacock

Peacock

 

Caroline

Not a post title that will make much sense really but I always like and excuse for a bit of Quo in a post. Earlier this week Andrew Harrop discovered a small but apparently healthy population of Chalkhill Blue butterflies at the Leicestershire and Rutland Wildlife Trust reserve at Bloody Oaks Quarry. After our first, mainly rubbish, vismig session of the year Dave Gray and I headed over that way.

Almost as soon as we entered the reserve we came across a male Chalkhill Blue… an excellent if unexpected addition to my County list.

Chalkhill Blue, Bloody Oaks Quarry, Rutland

Chalkhill Blue, Bloody Oaks Quarry, Rutland

Chalkhill Blue, Bloody Oaks Quarry, Rutland

Chalkhill Blue, Bloody Oaks Quarry, Rutland

Chalkhill Blue, Bloody Oaks Quarry, Rutland

Chalkhill Blue, Bloody Oaks Quarry, Rutland

Chalkhill Blue, Bloody Oaks Quarry, Rutland

Chalkhill Blue, Bloody Oaks Quarry, Rutland

A few Common Blue around and good numbers of Brown Argus.

Brown Argus, Bloody Oaks Quarry, Rutland

Brown Argus, Bloody Oaks Quarry, Rutland

Plenty of other butterflies as well but that’s for another post. Here for all you old rockers is a bit of Status Quo and Caroline – their first Top 5 hit. Here the significance of the title comes in – the Chalkhill Blues, Dave reliably informs me, are seen most regularly on Caroline Thistle.

A few Common Lizard were basking by the gate but were hard to photograph, two adults and at least two juveniles.

Common Lizard

Common Lizard

Common Lizard

Common Lizard

There were also 100s of Silver Y Moth on the reserve.

Silver Y Moth

Silver Y Moth

 

All White?

Took Minnie out for a bit of a walk this lunchtime as I needed to post a letter… you still can, for a limited time only if this ConDem Govt. gets its way. I took her along Tom Long’s Meadow, a fantastic bit of wet woodland and scrub (that the local allotment society want to plough up and turn into allotments) that parallels the Loughborough Rd through Quorn. A once regular site for Lesser Spotted Woodpecker – after successful breeding nearby I hope they will be there again soon. I hope Quorn Parish Council veto the idea.

Plenty of Butterflies in evidence, indeed, every nectar source seems filled with Butterflies at the minute. This year is turning into one of the best for many a year. Large numbers of Small White and Large White as well as good numbers of Peacock and signs of a recovery for Small Tortoiseshell after the poor years previously.

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A fresh Southern Hawker and a few Brown Hawker on the wing – both hunting Butterflies!

The ‘poor quality’ photos were using the Doris lens and Sussex film in Hipstamatic on the iPhone 4S.

taken un

Black Sunday

Phew! What a scorcher! This morning I picked up The Leicester Llama at 08.30 for a day looking for insects. Our first stop was Glapthorn Cow Pasture where I’ve spectacularly failed to ever photograph Black Hairstreak… well not today baby. Only problem we had were non of the insects that came down were pristine. Still, I’ve broken my duck.

Black Hairstreak

Black Hairstreak

Black Hairstreak

Black Hairstreak

A few other Butterflies with Large Skipper, Meadow Brown and Ringlet being seen as well as a Brown Hawker and a Red Kite.

Large Skipper

Large Skipper

Moving down the A1 we headed to Paxton Pits to look for the recently discovered Norfolk Hawkers. Finding Norfolk Hawker wasn’t difficult, photographing them was!

Norfolk Hawker

Norfolk Hawker

Norfolk Hawker

Norfolk Hawker

Good numbers of other Odonata with Emperor DragonflyHairy Dragonfly, Four-spotted Chaser and Black-tailed Skimmer as well as Common Blue Damselfly, Variable Damselfly, Red-eyed Damselfly, Blue-tailed Damselfly, Large Red Damselfly all seen.

Four-spotted Chaser

Four-spotted Chaser

Common Blue Damselfy

Common Blue Damselfy

Blue-tailed Damselfly

Blue-tailed Damselfly

Music, well the title was a close thing with Black Sabbath but I wanted something up beat…

 

 

 

Don’t Wherry, Be Happy

Last Friday Leigh, Minnie and I headed over to Norfolk for a long weekend. My main target was to photograph the Diesel Weekend on the North Norfolk Railway… more of that another day.

After a walk round Sheringham Park, including a trip to the Gazebo – think more a woodland tower than s bit of tarpaulin in the garden – we checked in at our B&B in Roughton. Barn Owl cottage if you’re interested. Following this we decided to try our luck for Swallowtail Butterfly at Catfield Fen. For a Butterfly Conservation reserve I have to say we didn’t see one butterfly actually on the reserve and I couldn’t see any foodplants for the Swallowtails either. We had better luck with Dragonflies including around five Hairy Dragonfly, one Four-spotted Chaser and two Norfolk Hawker. Sadly I couldn’t get a shot of any of these… next time I reckon I’ll go back to Strumpshaw Fen.

Catfield Fen

Catfield Fen

Again, off the reserve, there were good numbers of Variable Damselfly.

Variable Damselfly

Variable Damselfly

Back at base we took a walk to the New Inn in Roughton to enjoy a lovely Chinese/Malay meal washed down with a few of Woodforde’s finest… Don’t Wherry, Be Happy!

Woodforde's Wherry

Woodforde’s Wherry