Thursday, 11 August 2016

Brown Argus

It will be interesting to see what this years Big Butterfly Count comes up with. My own experience is that the butterflies are there, but they are in much lower numbers than I have seen before. Some, such as Tortoiseshells and Commas, have been few and far between this year.

Two weeks ago I was walking through meadows and on chalk hillsides covered in wild flowers and I was having difficulty finding any butterflies. Then in the past week or so, things have started to improve. We had a good emergence of Chalkhill Blues, then, in the last few days, Brimstone, Peacock, Painted Lady, and Red Admirals all in good condition and in good numbers.

One walk along a ride in Houghton Forest really raised my spirits. There were hundreds of these freshly emerged butterflies and even a good number of slightly worn Silver-washed Fritillaries. It was just like old times again.

With this years butterfly season drawing to a close I am just keeping my fingers crossed for a recovery in numbers next year.

Brown Argus - Newtimber Hill

A quick trip back to Newtimber Hill gave me a few good finds. This Brown Argus took a bit of chasing but I eventually got the pictures I wanted.

Brown Argus - Newtimber Hill

It is always easier to get the pictures when the butterflies are otherwise engaged and this pair of mating Silver-spotted Skippers was no exception.

Mating Pair Silver-spotted Skippers - Newtimber Hill

Another unusual sight was this pair of Painted Ladies. I have only ever seen them as singletons before. I assume they are male and female. They were sticking very close together but I did not get any action shots. I also noticed that the top one has an extra white spot in the wing tip. Possibly an aberration.

Painted Ladies  - Newtimber Hill

Peacock   -  nice but it looked much more vivid in real life.

Wall - Newtimber Hill

Brimstone - Houghton Forest

Brimstone  -  Houghton Forest

Another great butterfly. A blue version of the normally brown female of the Common Blue butterfly. You might need to read that twice!

Common Blue Female

Common Blue Female

A walk around Tillets Fields gave us plenty of Purple Hairstreaks but as with my previous visit they stayed mostly in the tops of the trees. Fortunately one did drop out of the skies at our feet. It was a bit tatty but still worth recording.

Purple Hairstreak  - Tillets Fields

Dave also spotted a Brown Haistreak at Tillets but unfortunately it was gone by the time I got there.

Red Admiral  -  Houghton Forest

Red Admiral -  Houghton Forest

Speckled Wood  -  Madgeland Woods

Houghton Forest also had the largest number of Dragonflies that I have seen in one small location. I reckon around 40 in the area where we park the car although they weren't exactly lining up to be counted. They looked like Darters and Hawkers but none were landing to enable a definite identification. We also saw large numbers of Southern Hawkers at Madgeland Woods and these were a bit more obliging.

Southern Hawker

Southern Hawker

I am missing a few of my usual butterflies this year, White Admiral, Purple Emperor, Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary, White Hairstreak, plus all the northern species but overall it has been a good year. There is also still a chance of connecting with Brown Hairstreaks and Clouded Yellows before the month is out and maybe even a late Long-tailed Blue so I need to keep looking.

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