Monday, 17 August 2015

Brown Hairstreaks, Silver-spots & migrants

Saturday was a good day. It started with a Wood Sandpiper at Wilstone reservoir, which admittedly, at a distance of c600 metres, was dangerously close to being a featureless bird-blob; and it finished with an infinitely closer, fiery male Redstart, flicking his beautiful red tail, catching insects in the late afternoon light at the horse paddock on Nettleden Road, Water End. In between, there were my first Silver-spotted Skippers at Aston Rowant NNR, followed by my first Brown Hairstreaks at Otmoor RSPB. During a wander around the marshes at Otmoor, a couple of Ross’s Geese, a Marsh Harrier, a pair of Brown Hares, my first Roesel’s Bush-cricket and good numbers of common dragonflies were all enjoying the dry weather after 2 days of rain. A fresh Painted Lady fluttered past and there had obviously been a good second generation of Common Blue butterflies at the reserve. Here are a few photos from the day, starting with the Silver-spotted Skippers.

Mating Silver-spotted Skippers (Hesperia comma), a national rarity, on the wing late June - early Sept

Silver-spotted Skipper. Larval foodplant: Sheep's-fescue (Festuca ovina)

After the sun-loving Skippers (they don't bother flying on overcast days - very sensible!), it was on to Otmoor RSPB for another butterfly rarity, the Brown Hairstreaks (Thecla betulae). We were as jammy as Jammie Dodgers and walked straight up to a chap who was watching 3 of them! Last weekend this same chap had spent more than 3 hours waiting for a sighting without success, a scenario I know all too well.

The views were far better than I had ever hoped for. The icing on the cake would have been a fresh female but I was truly content with the 3 males, one of which was in pristine condition.

Male Brown Hairstreak (Thecla betulae). The UK's largest hairstreak species. Primary foodplant is Blackthorn

Brown Hairstreak, open-winged (male)

Two males. Fresh v Worn

Nothing like standing on your rival's head to get the message across!

A couple of final pictures: a female Southern Hawker dragonfly (Aeshna cyanea) and a female Roesel’s Bush-cricket (Metrioptera roeselii). I’d only ever seen the latter in photographs and didn’t really think my ID was correct. I fired off a burst of 3 shots with a view to checking when I got home. Kicked myself when I realised I was right and really should have made the most of the opportunity. Ah well, another place, another time...I hope. Incidentally, the rather large (and lethal-looking!) sickle-shaped protrusion at the rear of the Bush-cricket is the ovipositor, and the reason I know it's a female...

1 comment:

  1. Brilliant, love the brown hairstreak shots! Had a few at Whitecross wood a few years back but no decent pics and have failed to find them since. Well done!