This morning I reluctantly trudged through the mud down to Jones’s Mill nature reserve to do my monthly Riverfly survey. To be honest I’m not always in the mood for it and sometimes would rather be doing something else, like laying in bed. It can get a bit monotonous in as much as I can pretty much predict the result and quantity of each of the eight species I’ll record. I guess there’s only so many river invertebrates you can count before you start to lose the will to live. Yet the sun was doing it’s best to steam some puddles and as I splashed across Big 40 towards the wood my mood was lifted by the sight of dancing butterflies, a mixture of orange-splashed Meadow Browns and bitter-chocolate Ringlets. To lift my damp spirits further, just as I started my first kick-sample I flushed a metallic blue-green Beautiful Demoiselle damselfly Calopteryx virgo from the reeds. Sadly my camera was in my rucksack. Not a lot of use in there is it? Read more
Posts tagged ‘Morgans Hill’
Last April I saw my first ever Duke of Burgundy Hamearis lucina, or at least I’m pretty sure I did. To be fair all I saw was a fleeting flash of brown and orange. But then I was in the right place, ancient chalk downland, at roughly the right time, so I was reasonably confident, even for a novice.
Just over a year later, armed with two weeks’ leave and a new macro lens I was determined to do better. I’d read that the adults prefer mornings so I was out of bed and up on Morgans Hill before the dew had evaporated. My only concern was that the very wet April we’d just endured may have proved too much for them. With so few seen last year I was beginning to fear the worst. Read more
The Wall Lasiommata megera loves hot, sun-baked, dry ground and gets its name from its habit of basking on walls. So when I went looking for it up on Morgans Hill I headed straight for the chalk quarry in section 15 where I’d seen one late last year. On the way to the gate I noticed a patch of bare ground to the left of me, just in front of the fenced off juniper bushes and almost immediately a flicker of brown dropped down onto it. Was it really going to be this easy? I walked over slowly, spooking myself and a grazing rabbit as I got closer. Yep, it was a Wall, tricky to spot at first as it had its wings folded rather than outspread in classic sunbathing pose. As soon as it saw me though it danced off down the hill but then doubled back and landed again. It repeated this pattern several times as I attempted to get a photograph, obviously keen to defend its territory, so I lay down on the grass and simply waited for it to return.
Although it did briefly open its wings on landing it always closed them again before I had time to focus, so I opted for this side view. The undersides of butterflies are often overlooked but as you can see they can be equally impressive.
Whilst surveying T1 the first section of my bumblebee transect at Morgans Hill I came across this little beauty soaking up the sun amongst the brambles. It’s a freshly emerged male Broad-bodied Chaser dragonfly Libellulla depressa. In its immature colouring it almost has the look of a giant wasp or hornet but it’ll soon transform into its adult blue colouring. He’s a little early this year, no doubt spurred on by the fabulously warm spring weather.
As if I haven’t got enough to do I’ve now volunteered to do a butterfly survey each time I complete my monthly bumblebee survey at Morgans Hill. In truth it isn’t that much more work and as generally there are more butterflies than bumblebees it’ll make it more interesting. I’m not anywhere near as good at identifying butterflies as I’d like to be so I’m really looking forward to improving my knowledge. I’m ok with the more common ones but not quite so good with the rarer types.Above is a bit of a favourite of mine, the rather quarrelsome Small Copper Lycaena phlaeas. You might just about be able to pick out some faint blue speckled markings on the hind wings. When this makes a clearer line of blue dots this form is called caeruleopunctata. There is even a rare white and black albino form.