20 Jul 2014

20 July 14 - A Few Coastal Butterflies

Popped out for a few hours this afternoon to look for Essex Skippers at St Aldhelms. I don't know they are here, but assumed they would be. But in the end, I struggled to find many Skippers with only a handful of Small Skippers & Lulworth Skippers seen, as it was cooling down by the time I started to look for the Skippers. Still a good selection of other common Butterflies seen, along with several Oak Eggars. Also the chance to submit my first count for the Big Butterfly Count. It takes 15 minutes to do & a couple of minutes to upload your sightings & you can even do it on a smart phone, if (unlike me) you chose an area with mobile coverage. So give it a go. They are only interested in the 21 commonest Butterflies & day flying Moths & full details are on the Big Butterfly Count site.
Peacock: A stunning upperwing pattern
Peacock: The underwing doesn't give any indication of how great they are when they open their wings
Painted Lady
Oak Eggar: Male. These were flying around very fast & erratically, like a demented Painted Lady on speed. I assumed they would turn out to be one of the Eggar species, but it took quite some time to finally see one land. Note, they are not dependent on Oak trees, but they get their name from their acorn-shaped cocoons. Perhaps they should have been called Acorn Eggar
The walk out from the Renscombe car park goes past a number of arable fields. One field still has a couple of male Corn Buntings which have been just hanging on at this site, although the numbers have declined from when I first started to watch the area over 25 years ago. Yellowhammers are another species which are still hanging on here, but in better numbers locally than the Corn Buntings. Either species brighten up the walk out to the headland.
Finally, it's getting to the time of years when the Bush Crickets & Grasshoppers start getting a lot commoner. Again a group I've been trying to get into for a number of years. The Bush Crickets aren't too hard to work out, but I find the Grasshoppers to be a trickier as some species come in a variety of colours.
Field Grasshopper: Nymph. Adults are generally brown, grey or green, but some nymphs come in this distinctive pink colour
Field Grasshopper: Nymph. The v shaped white marking on the pronotum (thorax area) is sharply angled and the pronotum forward of kink is shorter than the area at the rear
Field Grasshopper:This is what adults more typically look like (Langton Matravers, 27 June 10)