Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Chalkhill Blues

Monday, and I picked up two more year ticks. Chalkhill Blue at High and Over and a Small Copper at the gallops above Butchershole car park. We had visited Mill Hill the previous week looking for the Chalkhills but there was nothing showing. This week High and Over had hundreds of them, all freshly emerged.

Female Chalkhill Blue

Male Chalkhill Blue

Male Chalkhill Blue

and although freshly emerged they were not wasting any time

Mating pair

I managed a record shot of the Small Copper but it was not sharp and I also got the shot below of an Essex Skipper. Again not brilliant but at least its evidence that I have seen one this year.

Essex Skipper

We finished off the day at Birling Gap. There were a lot of butterflies around but they were mostly well past their best. There was one female Dark Green Fritillary with unusual colouring but I had only a brief glimpse of it and then had to watch as it disappeared over the road and out of sight.

Tuesday and we were out again, this time at Houghton Forest. It looked promising when we first got there although it was mostly Skippers and Marble Whites that were flying  along with the usual Meadow Browns and Ringlets.

Marbled White

Marbled White

There were a few Silver-washed Fritillaries flying and we had a few brief distractions, such as, when  Turtle Doves were heard and when a Dragonfly, probably a Brown Hawker, flew past, but the day did not really get going. It gradually clouded over and with rain threatening we headed back to the car.

We were photographing Gatekeepers by the car when we spotted an unusual one. There was no time to get a decent picture as the rain hit us hard so we had to sit it out in the car and hope the butterfly would still be around when it finished.

Fortunately it was still there and we managed to get our shots. You can see by comparing the two pictures below that the first one has additional black spots on the upper side of its front wing. Its clearly a Gatekeeper and checking we decided that it was ab. excessa. This is our second aberration in the past couple of weeks. I have no idea if this is a rare version or not but it does have the effect of making you look more closely at all the ordinary butterflies that you would normally be ignoring.

Gatekeeper ab. excessa

Standard Gatekeeper

 We checked out a couple of other sites in the area but with the rain still threatening we called it a day and headed for home.

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