Monday, 29 June 2015

Marbled White

We had a tour around a few of the local sites today looking for photo opportunities with Birds, Butterflies and Dragonflies, with Dave also keeping an eye open for any unusual orchids. It made a change to spend some time on a few of the more usual species rather than focusing on life or year ticks.

First stop was Pagham Harbour where a summer plumage Spotted Redshank was to be found on the Ferry Pool. It was a great bird to see but it stayed just out of range of the cameras. This seems to be the norm on the Ferry Pool these days. As I  remember it, in the past we would get birds closer to the road giving much better views. Perhaps it's just the volume of traffic that you now get on the Selsey Road.

The harbour at Church Norton looked really picturesque in the early morning sun but there were very few birds about. We had hoped to get improved shots of the Hudsonian Whimbrel but if it was still there it was tucked into one of the creeks out of sight.

Next stop was the meadow at Whiteways roundabout on the A29. With the morning warming up there were plenty of butterflies on the wing but the real bonus was freshly emerged Marbled Whites. Not only were they in pristine condition but they are a lot easier to photograph when they are perched out drying out their wings.

Freshly emerged Marbled White

All the above shots are males. The females have a shorter body, golden brown markings on the underside (instead of black), and a golden brown leading edge to the upper wings.

Female - Golden brown leading edge to upper wing

Female on the left - picture from June 2014

Other butterflies seen at Whiteways meadow were Ringlets, Small Heath, and Small Skippers.


Small Heath

Next stop on our tour was Lords Piece. If anything there were too many Dragonflies and Damselflies there. The constant movement meant that nothing had time to settle and the insects rarely stayed on a perch for more than a few seconds. This is really a better site for early morning or late afternoon visits but we did get a few shots.

Ovipositing female Emperor 

Broad-bodied Chaser

Four-spotted Chaser

Four-spotted Chaser
- this one has additional dark markings at the wing tips so is probably of the form praenubila

Another unusual sight were these two Blue-tailed Damselflies. Females come in a variety of colours but this one is an andromorph having the colour of a male. I thought the idea was that she would not be recognised as a female and so avoid harassment by the males. She would then change to a green colour when she reached sexual maturity. The strategy does not seem to have worked in this case.

Mateing pair with andromorph female

We stopped off at Pulborough Brooks as I needed to stock up on bird food. We had intended to walk down to the Black Pool to look for more dragonflies but with the time moving on and the temperature rising we decided to skip this and move on to Woods Mill.

There is a reasonably showy Water Rail with a couple of chicks that we wanted to photograph at Woods Mill. Unfortunately I think we left it a little too long and the chicks are now juveniles. We got good views of one but the mother did not show.

Juvenile Water Rail

Dave staked out a tree where we could hear a Turtle Dove purring. Having already photographed it I went off in search of Demoiselles which I had managed to miss so far this year.

Beautiful Demoiselle (male)

Beautiful Demoiselle (female)

Despite lots of purring the Turtle Dove did not show in the open but there were at least more dragonfly opportunities around the pool whilst we waited.

Four-spotted Chaser

I came home with about 400 shots in the camera. My usual keeper rate is about two in a hundred but with the pristine specimens of Marbled White it rose to about twenty five percent today. What do you do with about sixty almost identical pictures of a Marbled White?

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