Thursday, 15 June 2017

14th / 15th June - Sometimes You're The Windshield

Lots of things have happened since my last post, but I can say that all the days from our week in Northumberland have now been posted and can be seen here.  

The weather this week has been warm and dry, perfect then for insects and butterflies and moths, but strangely they seem to be in short supply.  My hope was that there would be plenty about, and now that I have found an area full of wild flowers everything seemed to be in place.  Unfortunately no one seems to have told the butterflies.

This post covers two days, my first outing being around lunch time on the 14th.  I parked at the pond where there was an Emperor dragonfly circling the pond just above the lily pads.


Identified from the similar Southern Hawker, which is also seen here later in the year, by the all green panel on the thorax, where the hawker has black markings.  There were in fact two present, and every so often there would be little scuffles and a chase around the pond. Face on the blur of the helicopter blades.


Side on once again, with the under carriage drawn up close to the body.


The only damselflies I could find were the Azure.


Leaving the pond I walked towards Old Down, but turned south, and walked alongside the field to the meadow just off the footpath.  A big surprise was that along the edge of the field I would have expected some butterflies, a few small or large white maybe, but there was nothing.

Climbing the style into the field it at first appeared empty too, but pretty soon I saw my first butterfly, and unusually it was a Small Tortoiseshell, not what I had expected.


I walked to the bottom of the hill in the hope that shelter from the wind would help, but it made no difference.  Then a few Meadow Browns flew past, but none settled long enough for a photograph.  As I walked back up the hill I saw what I had hoped for, a Common Blue, but it also never stopped, never mind it was the first of the year.

About halfway back to the main path on the trefoil was another Five Spot Burnet, or maybe it was the same one I saw at the start of the month, it did look a little worn.


I walked about, and stood and waited but nothing else appeared.  I still though have high hopes for this place as long as the flowers remain.

From there I walked into Old Down, and almost immediately started to disturb Meadow Browns, plus a few very mobile Speckled Woods.  The Meadow Browns were also very mobile but there was enough of them to find one that would settle.


Even opening the wings to warm up.


The thistles are now coming into flower, and getting the attention of the bumble bees.


And that was about it, very disappointing, things were also made a little more frustrating when during the evening while Helen and I were out for a run, in the field that lies between Alton Lane and Blackberry Lane adjacent to the Garthowen Garden Centre we saw a Roe Deer with a small kid in the middle of the long grass.  We watched them as they bounded through the grass to the safety of the surrounding trees, and I cursed the lack of camera!

Overnight I decided to put the moth trap out, with the hot weather and a change to fresher conditions I hoped it might turn up some interesting specimens.  It didn't do too badly.

A Brimstone Moth, a commonly found moth, and one that is likely to be found in the house when the windows are left open at night.


Next, the Coronet.  This moth can be found in forms with different shades of brown green and grey.  This one is a lovely grey with yellow markings.


A Buff Ermine


And a Common Footman, both of which are commonly found at this time of year coming to light.


The next moth is a first for the garden.  A Lychnis.  The caterpillars like to feed on both red and white campion, both of which I now have a lot of in the garden.


There were at least five of these small moths, the Flame.

A rather worn Willow Beauty


And a Figure of Eighty, so called because of the shapes on the fore wings that resemble the figure "80".


But as always it is the hawkmoths that you hope for, and this morning I was rewarded with the Privet Hawkmoth.


This is the UK's largest resident Hawkmoth with a wing span up to 12 centimetres.  Mainly distributed in the southern half of Britain.  It has a single generation in the year, and normally habits woodland and gardens, where it is normally on the wing in June and July.


It gets its name from the caterpillar that feeds on privet, and is quite spectacular, it being lime green with Lilac and white spots on the side.  The adult has distinctive pink and black barring on the body, and on the hind wings but these are not normally exposed.



So a typical June post with lots of bugs, and not a lot else as the June doldrums kick in.  Hopefully there will be a little more of interest as we head towards mid summer.

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