Thursday, 12 May 2016

Grizzled Skipper

Spring has suddenly happened. The last two weeks in April and the first two in May feel as though they have been compressed into just a couple of days. The trees seem to have turned green overnight, bird migration has restarted and the butterflies have appeared. The trouble is, that there isn't enough time to fit everything in. I am missing some of the regular birds and the butterflies are happening out of sequence.

Today was an attempt to do some catching up. See the Turtle Doves at Woods Mills, find a Chequered Skipper, finally get to see the Lesser Whitethroat we had heard singing by the long pool at Pagham Harbour, and as a bonus have a look at the Tawny Owl chicks in the explorer area by the Pagham Harbour Visitors Centre.

It didn't go to plan. There was no sign of the Turtle Doves either in Woods Mills or along the footpath to the river. It was also uncomfortably hot and humid. We did hear three Nightingales singing within a few feet of us but they were not visible, in what is now a dense green hedge. 

The best I could manage was my first Green-veined White of the year and a Blackcap. A poor substitute for the Turtle Dove, but good to see anyway. It was also interesting to note that one of the large trees in Woods Mills, where you could often find the Turtle Dove purring away, had blown down.

Green-veined White


Next stop was Mill Hill to look for the Grizzled Skipper. It's a bit of a sun trap which is why it is so good for butterflies but at least here there was a breeze coming in off the sea. Two weeks ago I couldn't find a single butterfly here but today there were plenty flying.  Green Hairstreaks, Common Blue, Brimstone, Peacock, Small Heath, and both Dingy and Grizzled Skippers.

Common Blue

Mating pair Dingy Skippers

Still mating

The Grizzled Skipper always comes as a surprise. For some reason I always expect it to be bigger and it never is, but it is a great little butterfly to see and to photograph.

Grizzled Skipper

Mating pair Grizzled Skipper

and still mating - it looks like the male on the left and the female on the right

 I also found a couple of moths, the first at Mill Hill and the second sitting on the kitchen ceiling when I got back home.

Micro moth - I think this one is a Wavy-barred Sable - Pyrausta nigrata

and I am still trying to identify this one.

We had a look at the Tawny Owlets, one in the nest box and one out on a branch. Distant but must be worth a quick picture.

I came home with decent pictures of the mating Dingy and Grizzled Skippers but overall it was a disappointing day. There wasn't a lot to be seen and we could not really be bothered to go chasing half chances. It was too hot and stuffy to be comfortable and I am already looking forward to those crisp clear winter days.

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