Adscita geryon, Cistus Forester moth, common blue, common rockrose, Cryptocephalus hypochaeridis, Dingy Skipper, Jewel beetles, Nottingham Catchfly, Pyramidal Orchid, salad burnet, Silene nutans, small heath, small shiny metallic green beetle, speckled wood
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.
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.
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.
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.
She decided to take a closer look at what the mating pair were up to. (Sorry about blurry image-swaying flower stem!)
I couldn’t resist this patch of pretty Common Daisies in the long grass.
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:
This side of the hill’s summit was looking beautiful, carpeted with sunshine yellow Rock-rose and Bird’s-foot Trefoil.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
Moving on up to the summit I found my first Pyramidal Orchid of the year, still tightly in bud.
Back in the same spot as yesterday I got another brief glimpse of a Dingy Skipper nectaring on Bird’s-foot Trefoil.
At the bottom of the ‘downland’ slope I finally caught up with a Small Heath on a buttercup.
And to finish, a female Common Blue.