Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Branscombe, Devon

  Last weekend we visited Branscombe in Devon, in the hope of seeing the Wood White. It was not the easiest of places to get to but we eventually arrived at the car park next to the beach and took a walk along the coastal footpath. The path runs through woodland set just back from the cliff and there were many spring flowers including Ramsons and Bluebells. There were also lots of Dandelion clocks waiting for the breeze to carry away their seeds.

   Unfortunately we did not see any Wood Whites, but we did see this lovely female Orange Tip. We watched her lay a single white egg on the leaf of a Garlic Mustard plant.


   We passed a few Nettle patches along the path and on one patch we found several ladybirds. The most unusual were these Harlequin Ladybirds. The first photograph is of the male and the second if the female.

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Noar Hill, Hampshire

  With the weather forecast as sunny for Sunday John and I decided to make the long journey to Noar Hill in Hampshire in search of the Duke of Burgundy butterfly.

 Noar Hill is owned by the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust and was once a medieval chalk works. It is now home to a wonderful array of flowers and insects. It is also home to the rare Duke of Burgundy butterfly.

  One of the butterflies food plants is the Cowslip. The other is the Primrose. 

Duke of Burgundy - Male

Duke of Burgundy - Female

  Although these butterflies look like fritillaries they are actually members of the "metalmark" (Riodinidae) family, mainly found in central America. This species being the only representative of the family to be found in Europe. 

  We also saw a few other species of butterfly, including Small Heath and this Dingy Skipper.

  Other insects, included a sighting of a Bloody Nosed Beetle, which when alarmed exudes a drop of red liquid from its mouth! And no we didn't alarm it! We also saw this day flying moth but I cannot find a picture of it in my insect book. (Since writing this post I have been told that this moth is a Small Purple Bar...thank you Sue.)

  We also saw this very furry hoverfly feeding on the Cowslips. I think that it is called Bombylius major and is a bee-fly. If feeds on the nectar of spring flowers.

  Noar Hill is also know for its orchids with over a dozen species being recorded here. On our visit we just saw the Early Purple Orchid.

  And finally, here is a picture of John at work! As you can see the butterfly is in the very bottom of the picture and is doing a very good job of posing and showing its best side for its moment of fame on John's You Tube channel!