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June 5th

One of the most fascinating, and sometimes a little frustrating thing about observing wildlife is that no two days, even in the same location are ever the same. I know that, but I had to retrace yesterday’s steps in the hope of further sightings of a Dingy Skipper or two didn’t I?

Along the Woodland Trail, Speckled Woods seemed  even more numerous than yesterday, and a little more willing to bask with open or partially open wings.

Speckled Wood

Speckled Wood and shadow

Leaving the shelter of the trees and entering the open meadow there was a fairly strong, cool breeze blowing – not the best of conditions for photographing butterflies that tend to stay low in the grass on such days, despite today’s sunshine. That didn’t deter me from stubbornly attempting to get some images of a lovely fresh male Common Blue. It was highly mobile, but during their frantic circuiting, these butterflies frequently return to the same spot to settle for a breather and luckily this was the case with this beauty; he favoured this particular grass stem or a nearby head of clover, so I waited there and eventually caught him during moments when the breeze briefly stilled. Not as sharp an image as I’d like, but a record.

Common Blue male upperside

Common Blue male upperside

Common Blue male underside

Common Blue male underside

I wondered if I might see the little green jewel beetle again. Last night, looking for information about this species I read they favour yellow compositeae flowers and remembered there were a few hawkweed plants close to where I found it yesterday. Lo and behold, I found not just one there, but a mating pair. I’ve put in two images of them, one to show their real size and another enlarged one to show how beautiful they are.

160605-BE26-Green metallic beetles-mating pair

Mating pair of Cryptocephalus aureolus

160605-BE33a-Green metallic beetles-mating pair

After a few minutes of photographing the obligingly oblivious pair I noticed a female Swollen-thighed Beetle -Oedemera nobilis (females don’t have the swollen thighs of the male) that had landed on a nearby flowerhead.

160605-BE31-Green metallic beetles-mating pair

She decided to take a closer look at what the mating pair were up to. (Sorry about blurry image-swaying flower stem!)

160605-BE39-Green metallic beetles-mating pair

Mating pair of Cryptocephalus aureolus observed by a female Oedemera nobilis

I couldn’t resist this patch of pretty Common Daisies in the long grass.

160605-BE-Daisies

A slight variation on yesterdays route took me up the track that comes out the other side of the hill. It was even breezier up there, but there were insects about taking advantage of the nectar and pollen on offer from the abundant wildflowers, mainly Rock-roses and clovers.

A Carder bumblebee in action on red and then white clover:

160605-BE42-Bee approaching clover160605-BE43-Bee on clover160605-BE44-Bee on clover160605-BE46-Bee on clover160605-BE45-Bee on clover

This side of the hill’s summit was looking beautiful, carpeted with sunshine yellow Rock-rose and Bird’s-foot Trefoil.

160605-BE1305-Rock-roses on summit

Summit carpeted with the sunshine yellow blooms of Rockroses and Bird’s-foot Trefoil (click on image to enlarge)

I stood still for a few minutes scanning the flowers for butterflies. Small Heaths  were most numerous, but I did spot a single Dingy Skipper. Living up to its name, it was skipping around randomly at speed, too fast and mobile for a photograph, but at least I’d seen it. I had more luck with a lovely little iridescent green Forester Moth that landed on a Salad Burnet flowerhead and stayed there.

160605-BEMTH-Forester moth on Salad Burnet 3a160605-BEMTH-Forester moth on Salad Burnet 1

There are three similar species of Forester Moth in Britain that can be difficult to tell apart, but I think this one is a Cistus Forester-Adscita geryon. According to the Butterfly Conservation info: “This species is generally smaller than the Forester or Scarce Forester and the presence of good quantities of the Cistus Forester’s foodplant, Common Rock-rose, can be a useful indication of this species.”

Now for the ‘rare treat’! Since I came  to live here, I have been looking out for a ‘Nationally Scarce’ plant that is recorded as growing here, the fascinating Nottingham Catchfly-Silene nutans. I’d only seen pictures and read about it, imagining I would find it in a rocky place on the cliffs or in bare ground. But, much to my amazement and delight, I found it today well-hidden amongst lush long grasses near the edge of a track. Getting my eye in, I saw there were several smaller clumps of the plant further back from the track edge, so clearly a good year for it. Difficult to photograph in the strong breeze, I’ve edited and sharpened my images a little so the plant is more visible than it was on the day!

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Nottingham Catchfly amongst swaying long grasses

The plant is so-named because it was first found on the walls of Nottingham Castle. It no longer grows there as the site was destroyed during work done on the site in the 19th century. The flower remains the County Flower for Nottinghamshire though.

160605-BE1256-Nottingham Catchfly (4)

The plant is vespertine like many of the catchflies. This means that the flowers tend to stay closed in the daytime and open in the evening or at night, when they release a heavy scent into the evening air in order to attract night-flying insects and moths.

160605-BE1256-Nottingham Catchfly (3)

Flowers are drooping, in very open clusters and all usually pointing one way. Petals white above, greenish or pinkish beneath.

Each flower opens over three successive nights revealing one whorl of stamens on the first night and another on the second and the styles on the third. This is thought to prevent self fertilisation.

160605-BE1256-Nottingham Catchfly (2)

Moving on up to the summit I found my first Pyramidal Orchid of the year, still tightly in bud.

First Pyramidal Orchid

First Pyramidal Orchid-Anacamptis pyramidalis amongst Common Rock-rose

Back in the same spot as yesterday I got another brief glimpse of a Dingy Skipper nectaring on Bird’s-foot Trefoil.

160605-BEBFY-Dingy Skipper 1b

Dingy Skipper on Birds-foot Trefoil

At the bottom of the ‘downland’ slope I finally caught up with a Small Heath on a buttercup.

160605-BEBFLY-Small Heath on buttercup 1a

And to finish, a female Common Blue.

160605-BEBFLY-Common Blue (f) upperside 1 160605-BEBFY-Common Blue (f) 1