ash keys, bee mimic hoverfly, cheilosa illustrata, common ragwort, ferdinandea cuprea, green-veined white, hawthorn berries, mating gatekeeper butterflies, Nature in August, purple hairstreak
August so far has brought mixed weather, days have been mostly warm, but many have been cloudy or overcast and occasionally there’s been some sunshine.
It’s only been a week or two since my last visit to Bryn Euryn, but now rapidly approaching late summer, much has already changed. Many plants are setting seed, there are ripe wild raspberries, a few ripe blackberries and sloes, still as hard as bullets.
Last year there were sparse crops of acorns and sloes, this year may be more bountiful.
On a last hogweed flowerhead, a new-to-me, furry little hoverfly; it is one of a number of species referred to as a bee mimic, but it doesn’t really look like one.
Another hoverfly caught my eye, it was basking on a bramble leaf and as the sun caught it, the insect shone a bright metallic golden bronze colour.
About to enter the meadow, I caught sight of a Speckled wood butterfly basking on an Oak leaf. I moved in to take a photograph as I haven’t had many good opportunities with this species so far this year, then caught sight of another butterfly sitting on a leaf slightly higher up.
I moved in a little closer and realised this was a butterfly I had never seen before other than in pictures, a Purple Hairstreak. A species that spends most of its time in and around the tops of Oak trees, I was surprised and delighted to see it and tried not to alarm it as I focussed the camera. It moved a little to reveal two small orange eyespots on its hindwing, but just as I had it back in focus the Speckled wood flew up and chased it away. I waited a while to see if it would return, but no luck. At least I know to look out for them here again!
The colours of the landscape are changing subtly. Hay has been cut and in many places baled and put safely under cover. Meadows of seeding long grass left standing have taken on a golden hue and on our limestone hill, the wildflowers typical of late summer are at the peak of their flowering. Most are ‘tough’ plants, Knapweed, Hemp agrimony & Ragwort, which are all imortant nectar sources for insects.
It’s been a while since I had a good opportunity to photograph a Green-veined White, so I was pleased to see this fresh one on a Knapweed flowerhead.
Also clinging to a knapweed plant was a pair of mating Gatekeepers; a perfect opportunity to see the difference between the male and female of the species, as helpfully, the female opened her wings to show the plainer upperside to her wings.
As anticipated by the abundance of flowers back in the spring, Ash trees are bearing thick bunches of ‘keys’.
Walking close to gorse bushes the air is filled with the gentle sound of pods crackling as they open to release seeds.
Higher up on the steep slope near to the summit there is a stand of Ragwort growing with thistles.
And further round more Ragwort, this time interspersed with tall spikes of velvety Mullein.
And a final shot of a Speckled Wood next to hypericum berries sums up the season, I think.