Following on from the good moth catch yesterday, with clear blue sky, and warm sunshine today I decided to give the butterflies in Old Down another try. I pulled up at the pond with two Southern Hawkers circling the lily pads. One threatened to settle on the Iris leaves, but as I raised the camera it was off again.
There were still several Azure Damselflies about, and I caught a pair mating on the periwinkle bank.
Walking into the wood I checked the bottom end of the field by going through a gap in the hedge. A male Brimstone was flying along the edge of the field, and then resting underneath the leaves out of the direct sunshine.
I was hoping for some blue butterflies here, but there was no sign. The Common Blue has been impossible to find this year. There was though Meadow Browns and a Small Skipper.
I made my way into the wood, there were white and brown butterflies about in the grass, and on the thistles Goldfinches. I stopped by the Beech tree and waited. Another Skipper appeared, this time Essex.
Then to complete the set a Large Skipper sunbathing on the bramble leaves.
Once again it was mostly Ringlets and Meadow Browns, but every so often there would be a bit more orange and a Gatekeeper would appear.
A s I walked along the ride, a large orange butterfly came at me, I knew immediately that it was a Silver-washed Fritillary, but of course it just kept going.
I turned towards the West End, Chiffchaffs were calling all around me as I walked past the Beech Trees. There was plenty of butterflies about but they just would not settle. It wasn't until I reached the West End that I managed to finally capture some that had decided to feed.
This Small White on the thistle, difficult to expose with the dark background.
A Ringlet with wings up.
Looking back along the path, the Hogweed and Thistles were standing tall.
A Red Admiral appeared and on the Hogweed it gives a abstract feel to the colours.
Back to the thistles a Large White this time.
I walked back with the mews of young Buzzards coming from within the wood. These would be punctuated by the angry rattle of a Wren from somewhere in the Bramble. Another Red Admiral could be seen sunbathing on the leaves.
Another Silver-washed passed me by, and as I reached the turn for the Kitwood path, another was flying in a sunny patch, but again headed away from me. It was then joined by another, and they spiralled upwards into the canopy of the beech trees.
A Green Woodpecker called, and then appeared on the branch of a Larch Tree in front of me.
I hear them quite frequently in Old Down, but very rarely get to see them.
I headed back to the main path, and as I reached the turn I finally found a Silver-washed sitting and nectaring on a patch of bramble.
Always nice to photograph, I had seen about four here today, around the usual number for Old Down. There was no sign of any White Admirals though, it seems that they have not survived here this year.
I walked back down the main ride, and paused to watch the Goldfinches feeding on the thistle seeds.
As I walked out of the wood at the cottage gate, the male Brimstone appeared again, this time happy to nectar on the brambles.
I walked the other side of the hedge by the road in the hope of finding Common Blue. Once again in proved unsuccessful, but I did manage to find a Peacock, and this Small Tortoiseshell.
It allowed quite a close approach.
Before I headed home I wanted one more chance at finding a Blue. I drove to Charlwood and parked by the style to the Plain Farm footpath. I walked around to the field and I was pleased to see that the flowers were still allowed to grow. I waded through the grass, but didn't feel that lucky about finding a blue, once again there was a lack of Trefoil, one of the main feeding plants. I didn't find one, but I did manage to find three female Marbled Whites.
The female has more brown markings than the male, they look good against a green background, and a buffy brown background.
And so the quest goes on. I have now given up on White Admiral this year, but I still hope there is time for a Common Blue, Small Copper and even a Brown Argus. I can but hope.