Sunday, 23 May 2010

Hot Weekend

Temperatures have risen considerably this weekend, and as a result butterflies and dragonflies are finally out in good numbers.
I went down to Waterford Heath on Friday, in the hope of finding Grizzled Skipper, even though it is about a month later than I would have usually tried. It took a bit of searching, but I did find two in the southern part. There were good numbers of Peacock, Orange Tip and a couple of Brimstone too. The northern section did not have much at all. A Holly Blue near the car park, and a Large Red Damselfly in the pond.

The plan for Saturday was to stay local, and visit sites in the Chilterns, targeting butterflies and orchids, but we kind of got distracted a bit.
Last week, there were good numbers of Duke of Burgundy at Bison Hill Whipsnade, so we made it our first port of call. The first thing we noticed was that there were huge numbers of Green Hairstreak on every available bush. Working up from the base of the hill, lots of Brown Argus were found, and then several Grizzled Skipper.

Eventually, about half way up the hill I found our first Duke of Burgundy. Unfortunately it was a bit past its best.

PLenty of birds singing-several Lesser Whitethroat, Willow Warbler in particular, and i also had flyby Buzzard and Raven. We were joined by a couple of guys from Northants and spent another half hour searching with them,and not finding any more butterflies, so we decided to leave.
The Chilterns plan went out of the window and we headed off to the Thames. Our aim was to visit the orchid reserve at Hartslock, but poor information meant we could not park any where near it, so instead we went down to the river and hunted for Club Tailed Dragonflies. Despite all our efforts, only one single male was found.  I did see a few Banded Demoiselles on the way back, as well as Small Copper and Common Blue.
Since we were heading south west, the next logical place was Bentley Wood. The eastern clearing was full of Pearl Bordered Fritillaries, as well as a few Small Pearl Bordered. Most were very active in the heat, and it proved impossible to get decent images until Colin located one on a small birch.
At this point we had met up with an old Amwell friend Dick and one of his mates, both of whom are very into butterflies, so I spent a while chatting about our plans this year, and while we were, Jan Hein van Steenis turned up-another Amwell refugee. A huge blur in the grass turned out to be an Oak Eggar Moth which was worth a look. After another long natter, I left them looking for a Marsh Fritillary and headed of to Oakden Wood, aka Botany Bay.
First interesting thing I found was a dragonfly hunting in the woods-turned out to be a Downy Emerald. Past the bridge and following Dick's advice we encountered about twenty Wood Whites. They seemed to be very territorial, and kept gathering on the vetch flowers-up to three per flower head.

Having seen Downy Emerald, we decided to call it a day and not pay a quick visit to Thursley Common.

This morning at Amwell was just as hot as yesterday. Little in the way of exciting birds-a feral Barnacle Goose isn't exactly much to write home about.
Plenty of odontae though. Large numbers of Red Eyed Damselflies are out on the lily pads, and the Hairy Dragonflies are also out in good numbers. Naturally Azure, and to  a lesser extent Common Blue damsels are starting to build up. I also encountered a few Large Reds, and the river held some Banded Demoiselles.
Its been a long hard wait, but finally insects are starting to happen.

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