Wednesday 31 July 2013

Houghton Forest

Another visit to Houghton Forest, mainly to try another ride, this time The Denture. Nothing to do with teeth, the name derives from "Devonshire" a method of farming where the ground is enriched by burning, or so I am led to believe from articles on the web. There is also The Dencher, the same derivation, over near Wilmington in East Sussex - there - you learn something new every day! It just might not be right though!!!

The weather was heavily overcast and there was precious little light and no depth of field but the butterflies were sitting out. First up were several Green Veined Whites followed by the ubiquitous Ringlets.  On the way back to the car park I spotted a single Chalkhill Blue with hints of orange spots on the hind wings. But the stars remain the Silver Washed Fritillaries, plenty of them about, some looking rather worn but displaying well on the heads of Hemp Agrimony.

Common Darter

Overdue garden pond maintenance was the chore for the day, the Hornwort, which we feared wouldn't grow has virtually covered the surface area. Whilst carefully extracting fronds of plant that possibly contained damselfly eggs I noticed a visitor taking up station next to the bird bath.

Thursday 25 July 2013

Silver Washed Fritillary


I dropped into Houghton Forest late afternoon to try and improve my SWF shots. It was fairly quiet on the rides, lots of Large Skippers and Ringlets with a plethora of Whites. Just a glimpse of an Emperor up in the canopy, several fresh Commas and a single Red Admiral. Disappointingly just a single moth eaten specimen of a SWF which I photographed. By now the sun was dipping behind the trees and only patches were sunlit so I meandered back to the car park. Sod's Law prevailed, right next to my car were three specimens avidly feeding on the Hogweed, mission accomplished - by a streak of good luck.

Very tatty!!

A pair of Large Skippers???

Before Houghton Forest I visited Lord's Piece again to try for some Emperor Dragonfly shots, I was particularly keen to get a male but this female was very obliging. The males remained aloof, I also noted a Common Darter.



Tuesday 23 July 2013

On the Commons

A jaunt around West Sussex taking in Lord's Piece, where ,at the pool by the car park, I managed to photograph a Black-tailed Skimmer.  The Broad-bodied Chaser population has diminished, to be replaced by other species. I identified Southern Hawker and Brown Hawker but none settled in the heat of the day. A family of Pied Wagtails are taking advantage of the insect abundance and whilst I was there two Grey Wagtails dropped in for a short time.

BBCs are looking worn

On to Ambersham Common where I managed to snap a Common Hawker, very little else was active save for a single Yellowhammer perched on the gorse.

I ventured over the road to Heyshott where a couple of locals warned me of a very active adder population on one of the paths. Arming myself with two cameras and three lenses I set forth on the dreaded footpath determined to get some decent shots of active adders, you got there before me, no sign of ophidian activity whatsoever! Here bird activity was also minimal, just a Green Woodpecker and a pair of Linnets. Having hacked through the jungle by the stream I expected at least one dragonfly, a big zero again but at least this Brimstone gave me something to photograph.

On the way back I was going to drop into Houghton Forest but amazingly it was raining so on home for Tea!

Monday 22 July 2013

Chalkhill Blue

On what was forecast as possibly the hottest day yet for the South-East, 34C, I made a quick, early morning, dash to Mill Hill to observe the Chalkhill Blues. I wasn't disappointed, at around 0800 they were flying strongly, even better, in the early morning sun there were plenty of perched males. In all I counted 100+, the Six Spot Burnet moths were abundant - literally hundreds on the wing and hatching out. Gatekeepers were showing well as were Marbled Whites.


Cinnabar Moth caterpillar on Ragwort



Thursday 18 July 2013


I decided to revisit the local patch, Houghton Forest,  where I had been yesterday morning, first impressions of the place were very favourable and today I expected to improve on the results. When I arrived I located the previous day's Turtle Doves plus one more, I need to find out where they are feeding - more study required.

I made my way down to the ride where the Silver Washed Fritillaries were showing, by now the sun was fairly strong and butterflies were everywhere. It was nice to meet Rob the Ranger and exchange information, Rob explained that he had seen a Purple Emperor on the ride and it would be worth a look. We parted company I went down the ride but saw nothing. Then by chance as we met up again we had a flyby of a PE, quickly identified by Rob and we set off in hot pursuit, all the while this butterfly was ahead of us, every time, just as we caught up - off it went again. Finally I got close enough for what I will call a record shot - definite proof that PEs are in this wood. Here is the best I could do Rob - a real pleasure to meet you and many thanks for all the local information - hope to see you again.

The list for the morning totalled 13 species: White Admiral (numerous), Purple Emperor, Large White, Small White, Red Admiral, Comma, Silver Washed Fritillary (numerous), , Meadow Brown, Marbled White, Speckled Wood, Large and Small Skipper and a Ringlet.

Just as one lands - another disturbs it.

Drop dead gorgeous!


Threw me at first - much larger than expected.


Well - at least I got to grips with the Skippers

Ringlet - thanks for the ID Mike