Friday, 26 May 2017

26th May - Its Burning In My Heart

Summer has arrived this week!  Warm days and balmy evenings towards the end of the week, was enough to convince me to put out the moth trap.  This morning the decision proved to be a good one with several species in it.  Some old favourites and a few micro moths that I have taken the time to identify.

This is a Freyer's Pug

An aptly named Green Pug.

 A Common Marbled Carpet.

A Small Phoenix

Then some old favourites, a Buff Tip

A Peppered Moth, we have seen these almost every year since I have had the trap but they are a lovely moth.

The Pale Tussock.

These are not that frequent, but I have caught them before, a Treble Lines.

And a Bright Line Brown Eye

But it is always the anticipation of catching one of the Hawk Moths that grabs you as yo go to the trap in the morning.  With the warm weather and plenty of flowers around the garden there was always the chance, so I was pleased to find one of the favourites, a Poplar Hawk Moth.

Probably the commonest of our hawk-moths, it has a strange attitude when at rest, with the hind-wings held forward of the fore-wings, and the abdomen curved upwards at the rear. If disturbed it can flash the hind-wings, which have a contrasting rufous patch, normally hidden.

There is usually only one generation, but a partial second can emerge in the south between August and September. The adult form does not feed, and bizarrely the female comes to light before midnight, and the males after midnight, in greater numbers.  I am not sure whether this is a male or female.

Today was glorious, clear blue skies, and a warm breeze, a perfect lunch time for hopefully Damselflies at the pond, and some butterflies around Old Down Wood

As I pulled up to the pond I could see many insects over the water, but no sign of any dragonflies.  Walking around the pond on the sunny side the bushes and periwinkle on the ban was full of damselflies, mostly Azure Blues, but also a few Large Red Damselflies.  They were settling but not staying long.  Finally I manged to find one that would stay still.

The Large Reds were even more difficult, but again one stayed long enough for me.

But they were worth the wait, and I had the chance to get in close.

I was keen to find some butterflies so headed off to the Wood, as I walked up to wards Old Down Cottage a Great Spotted Woodpecker called, and I found it with a bill full of food on the telegraph pole.

The reason for its frantic calling was a apir of Crows in the Oak tree on the other side of the lane.  I can only suppose there was a nest in the tree, but I could not hear the familiar constant calling of the young in the nest hole, maybe the calls from the adult had quietened them.

I didn't go straight into the wood, but walked along the field usually a good spot for butterflies, and with todays weather I expected to see quite a few.  The reality was there were none.  It was very strange.  A little way along the path goes into an open meadow that has been left to grow, without any cutting.  The meadow looks perfect for butterflies, but today in the warm sunshine it was totally empty.

I turned back to go into the wood, and found a butterfly at the style, a Red Admiral, the first for awhile, and maybe a migrant turning up on the southerly winds we have had recently.

On the wire above the road a Song Thrush perched, and for once it stayed and didn't just fly away.

I walked through the wood with Chiffchaffs singing along the main path, and then as I headed west the song came from Blackcaps.  Once again though, no butterflies.  As I came back I saw one Speckled Wood fly past me, but that was the sum total of butterflies seen.  Not sure why, it is a strange time for butterflies.  There is the early emergers, and then about now they fade away and there is a lull before the summer butterflies such as the Meadow Browns appear.  But in the weather I would have expected some.

As I walked back to the pond I could hear the calls of a family part of Long-tailed Tits, and found them in the oak trees.

The young birds are very distinctive with a red ring around the eye, and a dark brown patch around the eye, unlike the grey of the adult.

The Long-tailed Tits all headed off, and were then replaced with a family of Blue Tits.  The young again sitting in the trees and waiting for the adults to bering them food, probably caterpillars.

I made my way back to the car, and walked around the pond once again.  There were the calls of Moorhen coming from the small pool at the back of the pond, but no sign of the Mallard family.

The Irises were now in flower, and the bright yellow petals were contrasting with the inky blackness of the water.  The Azure Blues were swarming around the flower heads, but never settled so I had to make do with just the flower.

The lack of butterflies continued once I got back home in the garden, It seemed very strange, today's heatwave was perfect for them.  But then late afternoon I wandered into the garden, and a very powerful flying butterfly was zooming around the garden, and crossing into next door and coming back.  Then finally it alighted on the plants in the pot outside the kitchen.

Wings closed at first, then they slowly opened to reveal quite a bit of wear which probably means this is a migrant just arrived, and backs up my thoughts about the Red Admiral earlier.

It was quite flitish, and set off on a circle of the garden once again, this time settling on the hydrangea leaves.

It has been around the garden for quite awhile, and persistence paid off when I finally managed to get a shot with the wings wide open.

So finally a butterfly, and a quality one, I am still a little disappointed at the lack of variety today though, I had expected much more.  Then to end the day a male Orange Tip around the flower bed at the bottom of the garden.

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