Wednesday, 29 June 2011


Last year I found some Purple Hairstreaks on a couple of Oak trees between Brooklands lake and the sunken marsh. Today, I went to look for them again and it wasn't too long before they showed themselves. First of all I saw a couple near to the top of the shorter tree, then one flew down lower giving me the chance of a picture or two.

The picture above shows the partly open wings, guess why they are called Purple Hairstreaks.

There wasn't a great deal to be seen on the bird front, no sign of the Common Tern today on Brooklands, just a lonely looking Gt Crested Grebe and the Swan family, who look as if they may have lost one of their Cygnets. A Kestrel flew across the river, where a high tide meant that not much would be on offer except the usual Herons and four Shelduck flying upstream. In the sunken marsh a single Reed Bunting sang his slightly boring song and a Lesser Whitethroat rattled, out of sight as ever, from thick scrub.

I made my way towards the railway path, passing through a tunnel of overhead branches, where a family of what I presume to be Chiffchaffs called to each other. I waited for a while and my patience was rewarded with a glimpse of one of the young birds through the foliage.

Other than the Purple Hairstreaks and an Essex Skipper, I didn't see too many other butterflies, but I did see a few Commas, pictured below, who all looked in absolute pristine condition, positively glowing in the morning sun. As usual, I couldn't resist posting too many shots but I didn't think anybody would mind too much.

The east scrub didn't inspire today, just a few Slow Worms basking under the refugia. So I headed for the finger lake alongside the Brook House track where I came across the Humming-bird Hawkmoth pictured below, which absolutely made my day, what a stunning creature. I rang Terry Laws who was also on site and he raced across from Brookland with Dennis and Doreen in tow, to try and get a glimpse, this being a first for all of us at New Hythe. Of course, by the time they arrived it had long gone, full marks for effort though folks!

Once again, sorry for the surfeit of pics but I don't see these every day, or every year come to that.

This end of the finger lake is also home to Emperor Dragonflies at the moment, they didn't settle but I did manage to get a long distance shot of the female ovipositing, below.

all eventually moved off towards the west scrub where we noticed this Silver Y moth, below. Like the Hummingbird Hawkmoth this is a migrant, Terry had one in his moth trap this morning and there have been others reported recently so there has probably been an influx over the last couple of days. This is also borne out by at least three others which we saw during our visit today. Maybe they, and the Hawkmoth were carried over by the hot southerlies which sparked off yesterday's storms.

The picture below is, I think, a newly emerged ladybird, presumably from the empty larvae casing on the same leaf just below it. Terry noticed it as we retraced our steps back to the Oak trees, where we also managed to relocate the PH's which were a NH year tick for Terry as they were for me earlier.

Lastly, as we peered into the margins of Abbey Mead lake looking for Water Stick Insects I noticed this dragonfly exuviae in the water. I fished it out and put it on a bramble leaf to photograph it. It was big, probably a couple of inches long but I don't know what species it belongs to. A fearsome creature if you happen to be prey size. Maybe that's why we didn't find the Stick Insect.
I added House Martin and a splendid Peregrine Falcon to the NH June list today bringing the total to 62 species. I also took some other pictures today which I just haven't had time to sort out, so I'll try and post them tomorrow after another much anticipated visit in the morning.

***I have had messages from Greenie and Terry Laws that this is probably the exuviae of an Emperor Dragonfly, that's good enough for me. Many thanks to both of them.***


Bob Bushell said...

You're a lucky person, fancy catching the Purple Hairstreak, I'm totally jealous.

Mike Attwood said...

You get more sucsess with the small stuff than I do.Good stuff.

Greenie said...

Phil ,
What a cracking visit and shots too .
Well done with getting the Topwing of the PH .
Normal underwing for the Comma this time .
Super shots of Hummingbird Hawkmoth .
Great spot of Ladybird emerging , could be 22 Spot by the colour .
From the size of the exuvia , I'd say Emperor , either shed at final instar stage , or washed off vegetation by the heavy rain , the adult having emerged earlier ..

Alan Pavey said...

Fantastic Hummer shots Phil, glad you got your Hairstreak too and pics, most enjoyable post :-)

ShySongbird said...

A great visit and photos Phil. I have never seen a Purple Hairstreak so am envious of that.

I have seen Hummingbird Hawk-moths in the garden a couple of times, they really are spectacular little creatures, some compensation for not having Hummingbirds here I always think :)

I hear that Reed Bunting speaks well of your singing too ;)

Paul said...

A great set of pics here Phil, good variety, and hard to pic the best image really...But its got to be that Hummingbird Hawkmoth for me, nice one.

chris said...

Wow the hawkmoth pictures are wonderful and splendid!!! You got a wonderful message today and do not apologize for the plentyness of pictures, it is just very nice to see them all...