Monday, 7 July 2014

Chalkhill Blues

Not a song but a butterfly. Our target of 40 butterfly species for the year has been surpassed quite easily and today a couple more ticks were added to the total, which now stands at 45.  We started at High and Over in search of Chalkhill Blues but before we commenced we visited the magnificent viewpoint, where, quite by accident, we came across several specimens of Gatekeeper. Martin had spotted these on a previous outing  to Tilletts but I had unfortunately missed them. Normally these visit my garden in reasonable numbers and despite keeping a good look out over the weekend I hadn't managed to spot one. So seeing them nectaring in the bramble hedge augured well for our day and added an unexpected quarry to the expanding list.

Down the hill the Chalkhill Blues were bursting forth in good numbers and it wasn't long before we were getting some good shots of males, females and pairs.

Plenty of Marbled Whites and Meadow Browns were about, some carrying the red mite larvae of Trombidium breei, which I managed to record. A good quantity of Skippers allowed us to search for photographic evidence of an Essex Skipper. Getting down low and trying to photograph the antennae of such small and usually agile subjects is never easy, but today the bones were creaking more than usual, so I was glad to get a decent record of those black ends early on in the proceedings.


The Only Way Is Essex
Small Skipper

When we are out and about I am always searching for something unusual to photograph, it just helps to keep the blogs slightly different. So I managed to capture an unusual looking beetle,  Calocoris roseomaculatus.

Also a Cinnabar moth caterpillar.

Next stop was "Butchershole Bottom", a rather unusual name I agree. Venturing out on to the gallops gave even more Marbled Whites, Skippers of various sorts and a couple of rapid fly bys of Dark Green Fritillary. I noticed that the MWs here are also carrying the red mites.

Chalkhill Blues were present and we were pleased to find several Small Blues. Find of the day was a fresh Small Copper perched momentarily on ragweed. A species that I had seen earlier in the year but Martin had missed and it was good to close the gap between our tallies to just one - we are now desperate to find a Clouded Yellow. An odd insect caught our eye - what looks to be a metallic green moth of some variety - God knows what - some post prandial perusing of Richard South's work will be needed. Subsequent reading and of course searching the BC Sussex sightings reveal that it is The Forester moth. 

We finished a good day at Birling Gap, I was looking for some decent shots of Dark Green Fritillaries, and I have to report that is still the case. Most of the specimens we encountered were well past their prime - never mind, something to target in the next few weeks at another location.

Sad but I guess its work has been done.

I also recorded what appears to be a white form of the Greater Knapweed, something I haven't noticed previously - it is quite different from the usual form and quite pleasant on the eye - not sure the butterflies appreciate it though!

Time flies by when you are enjoying yourself and before we knew it we were homeward bound - after a most refreshing cup of tea in the café. Another cracking day out and a monster amount of photographs to be processed.

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