Sunday, 10 May 2020

Lockdown Lepidoptera

Well where did that week go?  Normal-ish life resumed for me last Monday as I had to work from the office for the week - but it went like a flash!  I should be off again now for a few weeks so hopefully there will be a bit more life in this blog again.

This is actually a post I was going to put up at the start of last week, but the delay has given it a bit more content.  It's not about birds either!

As we all know, except for the blip at the end of April, we have been blessed with some incredible weather during lockdown.  And as a result our daily walks have revealed good numbers of butterflies, although as we often take the same/similar route variety has been limited.  It's always good to appreciate the commoner species though, and it's given me ample opportunities to introduce Harry to some of them... 

The shade-specialist; Speckled Wood

A tad tatty - but it's not just wear that's shaped those wings; Comma

Seem to be very numerous this year; Holly Blue (a female judging by amount of black on forewing)

Sadly I never managed a pic of Harry's apparent favourite species - the Orange-tip.  I think it's the striking colour of the males that has attracted him to this species, but not one would land for me! Actually thinking about it, maybe they are Harry's favourite because of all the laugh's he's had watching Daddy running off down a track after one! 

Just before I went back to work, we did go on a different walk and headed down to the Harbour.  This revealed a whole new selection of butterflies, and whilst Harry and Mummy watched the mullet in the harbour, Daddy went off for a little bit more a walk...

There were really good numbers of Dingy Skippers around, always nice to see, along with my first Common Blues of the year.  I recorded at least five different Wood Whites as well, although in keeping with my luck with white butterflies during lockdown, not one posed for a photo!  I also spent time looking for Small Blue, as historically this has been one of our two local sites for this rare species (see HERE).  Sadly though Karen has since told me this site was lost to storm damage in c2015ish, likewise our other local Small Blue site.  So that's Small and Chalkhill Blue both gone from patch now, just shows how vulnerable these small isolated populations can be.  Plenty of their food plant remains though so fingers crossed they will eventually recolonise.

Managed a double-figure count of these; Dingy Skipper

My first of these recorded on 2nd May; Common Blue

A view of the underside; mating pair of Common Blues

Although not one Wood White landed for me, I managed to grab this absolutely dreadful shot as two flew close past by.  They are such a beautiful butterfly, such a delicate and fluttering flight.  Not that you can tell in this abysmal effort...

Does kind of show wing shape in two different positions - if you squint; Wood Whites

I have done far less well for Odonata, which is surprising considering we are going to the Wetlands almost daily.  I did see an extremely early Beautiful Demoiselle back on 9th April in Colyford, my earliest ever and not something I was at all expecting to see - I hadn't even seen a Large Red Damselfly before then! Later I read online a few other early emerged adults of this species had been seen, including one in Kenton (South Devon) the previous day. 

I saw my first Broad-bodied Chaser about a week later, also in Colyford, and yesterday was hoping to add Scarce Chaser to this list as I walked to the upper reaches of the Axe near Colyford - a reliable site for them.  But nothing, which is a shame because the colour of immature and females Scarce Chasers is one of my favourite colours in the natural world.  All I saw were a couple more Beautiful Demioselles, a few Large Red Damselflies and one Common Blue Damselfly.

Oh it's so good to be back in regular blogging land. Stay safe everyone...

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