Tuesday 18th June 2013 - Shenstone

Today I decided to take advantage of the rare bit of warm weather and pay a long overdue visit to the patch to check out which invertebrates were around.

I started off by walking across the Gallops Field which at this time was left fallow. Unfortunately it has been mown since and I dread to think what the impact has been on the nesting Skylarks there!

The gallops was fairly productive with 3 Small Copper butterflies and a ♀/imm. Black-tailed Skimmer dragonfly noted.  The later species was most likely from the nearby, privately owned, Stanklyn Pool.  There had also been an emergence of Garden Chafer beetles which were seemingly everywhere!

Next stop was the set-aside in the Pylon Field.  Here the Oxeye Daisies were in full bloom and looking rather resplendent.  Small numbers of the Greater Knapweed were just coming into bloom.  As always, this wildflower rich strip of vegetation was a haven for invertebrates with the following day-flying moths recorded:  2 Burnet Companion, 1 Cinnabar, 3 Silver Y and 5 Timothy Tortrix.  A Large White butterfly was seen feeding on the Oxeye Daisies.

I then decided to walk down to Captains Pool and along the footpath leading there I noted a Tree Bumblebee feeding on the Cow Parsley flowers.  On the pool itself the 2 juvenile Great Crested Grebes are developing well and looking in fine fettle.  At the edge of the pool, small numbers of Azure damselfly were present and along the dam an ♀ Blackcap was seen occasionally flycatching and a single Cinnabar moth was also noted. Another Tree Bumblebee was noted feeding on the flowers of Comfrey along the dam.

From the dam I headed over to Tony's CafĂ© for some refreshments before me and the old chuffer headed over to Butts Lane to check the set-aside.  Here we noted a number of day-flying moths including 2 Cinnabar, 1 Mother Shipton, 1 Small Yellow Underwing, 4 Silver Y, 3 Timothy Tortrix and a Yellow Shell

The find of the day was made by Tony when he picked up on a fresh looking Brown Argus butterfly feeding on the flowers of White Clover near the drainage pond.  This is the first sighting of this species on the patch for 2013 so it was great to see that they are still present.

Small Copper (Lycaena phlaeas)

Garden Chafers (Phyllopertha horticola)

Burnet Companion (Euclidia glyphica)

Cinnabar Moth (Tyria jacobaeae)

Timothy Tortrix (Aphelia paleana)

Tree Bumblebee (Bombus hypnorum)

Great Crested Grebe - adult and juvenile

Monday 10th June 2013 - Prestbury Hill (Gloucs)

Today I ventured down to Prestbury Hill near Cheltenham to visit the excellent butterfly Conservation reserves there.  Once more I was in the company of Tony S, although I really do think I should get carers allowance for looking after him!  (or perhaps it's the other way round!).  Anyway I digress, on with the post.

TS and I had previously visited Prestbury Hill some 3 weeks before looking for it's specialty, the Duke of Burgundy butterfly.  Unfortunately on that visit to the hill's Bill Smyllie Reserve the weather forecast didn't hold true, the wind got up and it started to drizzle...needless to say we didn't see a single butterfly. The weather for the return trip was looking much more promising.

Not long after arriving on the Bill Smyllie Reserve we bumped into a voluntary warden who told us that the best place to look for them was in the so called 'Happy Valley'.  He went on to explain that he was going into the valley to look for Duke of Burgundy eggs, so we tagged along. 

On the way into the valley I found 2 Small Blue butterflies, a lifer for me.  This diminutive blue is the UK's smallest butterfly and these 2 were very fresh looking showing a good dusting of blue on their upper wings.  Shortly afterwards the warden called us to point out 3 Duke of Burgundy eggs that he had found on the underside of a Cowslip leaf (the favoured food plant of their larvae).  We continued up through the valley but didn't manage to connect with of the butterflies. 

On the way back towards the car (where a sarnie and a drink was waiting) we noted a couple of moths including a Small Yellow Underwing and a Brimstone moth. 

After lunch the sun was trying to burn through the cloud and the temperature had raised noticeably.  We decided to undertake another walk through the valley and it proved to be a good decision.  Where we had encountered the 2 Small Blue butterflies earlier there were now 7 Small Blues fluttering about.  Better still we connected with the 1st of 4 Duke of Burgundy a bit further up the valley.  Result! my 2nd lifer of the day.  Normally the DOB's flight period should be over by now but due to the cold wet Spring they had been late emerging, giving a later window of opportunity.

Other butterflies of note today included 18 freshly emerged Small Heaths, 1 Peacock and 3 Speckled Wood. Moths species noted included 1 Burnett Companian, 1 Narrow-bordered 5-spot Burnett, many Common Heath and many Silver-ground Carpet.

All in all it proved a successful and enjoyable trip out,  although I really should start thinking about checking in on the local patch soon.

Small Blue

Duke of Burgundy

Small Heath

Silver-ground Carpet

Small Yellow Underwing

Thursday 6th June - Wyre Forest (Shropshire)

I have decided to dust of the cogs again, give them a squirt of WD40 and get the blog posts rolling again....enjoy!

This afternoon Tony and I decided to make the most of the warm weather and pay a visit to the Postensplain area of the Wyre to catch up with the Fritillary butterflies.  This turned out to be a good move as we saw good numbers of both Pearl-bordered Fritillary and Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary during the visit.  The other notable butterfly species encountered was Dingy Skipper.

The walk was also productive of the day-flying moth front with many Speckled Yellow encountered, as well as 2 Burnett Companion, 1 Mother Shipton and 1 Common Heath.  Three Brown Silver-line moths were also noted.  These night-flying moths are easily disturbed in the daytime and these individuals were put up whilst walking through the bracken.

Other interesting invertebrates recorded were a single ♀ Broad-bodied Chaser dragonfly, 3 Green Tiger Beetles and an Ashy Mining Bee.

One of the highlights of the visit for me was seeing a ♂ Great Spotted Woodpecker visiting a nest hole with mouthfuls of food.  Every time the adult left the nest there was the constant chatter of the juveniles calling...a really great sound, superb!

Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary

Pearl-bordered Fritillary

Broad-bodied Chaser (♀)

Friday 31st May - Penny Hill Bank

Sorry for the delay in posts folks, I have been having a few problems with a recurring knee injury and haven't been able to do my usual summer walks around Shenstone looking at the butterflies and other invertebrates. What I have done is, in between resting up, visit a few places where access is easy and I haven't had to walk too far from the car.  So what I will do is over the next week or so do a series of posts on these trips out and what was seen.  Hope you enjoy the read....

Friday 31st May - Penny Hill Bank (Worcs)
Today I caught up with my old partner in crime and long time curmudgeon Tony S for a visit to Penny Hill Bank near Martley.  It was a beautiful sunny day and I was hopeful that some of the site's speciality butterflies would be on the wing.

On entering the actual nature reserve we bumped into a fella with his family who were looking at some of the reserve's rather splendid flora and he pointed out to us a couple of cracking Common Twayblade orchids. 

We soon caught up with our first target species of butterfly with 2 Green Hairstreaks showing well on the bank.  We also a rather stunning Brown Argus butterfly nearby followed by 3 more later on in the days proceedings.  Also on the reserve I noticed an interesting red and black bug called Corizus hyoscyami.  This bug is typically found in coastal areas but is gradually spreading inland and now even exists at a few sites in land-locked Worcestershire.

We then headed up to the footpath above the reserve on the former landfill site.  Hear there were Dingy Skippers galore and we were soon into double figures and at the pond we were treated to the sight of 2 Four-spotted Chasers flitting about over the water.

All in all it had been an enjoyable and productive trip at one of my favourite sites in Worcestershire.

Green Hairstreak

Dingy Skipper

Brown Argus

Four-spotted Chaser

Corizus hyoscyami

Common Twayblade Orchid