Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Purple Emperors (II)

More butterflying and, yet again, with a purple accent. Yesterday we visited a new venue, Tilletts Lane fields in Warnham. Martin had discovered details of this place on the web and we finally got to make a visit. Not with any particular species in mind, more of a recce just to acquaint ourselves with the lie of the land. This hasn't been a butterfly reserve for long but it shows just what can be done to provide proper habitats.   As soon as we arrived we spotted several Purple Hairstreaks up in the canopy of an oak tree, with such a find spirits were up immediately. PHs are the most frustrating of targets, lots going on up high but, of course, none venturing to lower levels.

After a while we took a walk round the perimeter of the two fields, masses of Ringlets, Meadow Browns and Skippers, all highly mobile in the sunshine. Whilst trying to get to grips with a Silver-washed Fritillary nectaring in some brambles, I was aware of a pale butterfly going past, I gave it a cursory glance and dismissed it as a worn Meadow Brown. Thankfully Martin was more switched on and after following the specimen for some distance, managed to get some shots of it.  At Martins recommendation " Hey Dave I think you should photograph this" I did indeed take a few shots. The upshot is that is probably a fairly rare aberrant form of the Meadow Brown, possibly cinerea. Anyway Martin posted a photo on BC Sussex, judge for yourself.

Postscript: Considered opinion of the experts is that is an albino form - which diminishes the excitement somewhat - but I find it just as interesting.


Forest Bug

Soldier Beetles doing what Soldier Beetles constantly engage in!

After searching endlessly through a myriad of Skippers we finally came up with one that satisfied the criteria for an Essex Skipper and we added another tick to the year list - two in one day - we were on a roll. Cloud cover increased and the chances of getting a PH coming down were slim so we cut our losses and dived down to Mill Hill hoping for a Chalkhill Blue. On the coast the sun was out and in very warm conditions the only specimens flying at Mill Hill were Marbled Whites.

Today we decided to visit Botany Bay first, for another go at Purple Emperors before revisiting Tilletts. As we approached "The Triangle" it was obvious that other photographers had found  a specimen, this became the centre of attention for an increasing group so we moved away hoping to find our own subject. Back at the triangle we met Colin Baker ( take a look at his website Lepi - photos, stunning quality photographs) who graciously shared a Purplie with us, first up in the foliage and then on the ground for some time - Thanks Colin. 

With the sun playing hide and seek we left for the car park, on the way we found two obliging Ringlets engaged in what all butterflies spend most of their time attempting to do and managed to record the event for posterity.

At Tilletts it was a continuation of yesterday, Purple Hairstreaks up in the canopy, this time they had moved to an adjacent Ash Tree and refused to come down yet again. The sun had galvanised even more of the common butterflies into action but nothing remarkable turned up.

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