Friday, 10 June 2016

Small Blue eggs & pretty things in ugly places

A41 Bourne End/Boxmoor turn-off: Some of you may remember that, last summer, I went in search of Wally (aka Small Blue caterpillars). This year, I took it back a stage - still squinting at Kidney Vetch flowers - but this time hoping to find the minuscule butterfly eggs. It was actually a lot easier than I expected. At less than about 0.5mm in diameter, the eggs are surprisingly conspicuous.

See!...not going to miss this little chap, tucked away

Many of the flowers had multiple eggs laid within them, here 2 are visible

The scale of the ruler is mm, suggesting the egg is approx 0.5mm diameter

This egg had already hatched - all that was left was the outer rim/shell (like a tyre), the centre was hollow/empty

For anyone curious about the context of this A41 Small Blue colony, I've put together a few images below. The main photograph was taken from the A4251, looking down onto the eastbound embankment: this is south facing and rich in Kidney Vetch (all the clumps of yellow). Top right, is the view along the top of the embankment and, bottom right, is the view from the side of the A41, up the embankment.



Nature does have a habit of thriving in these most ugly and dangerous of places. Today, surrounded by reinforced concrete, bad graffiti and the roar of traffic, 2 Bee Orchids bloomed (the first I’ve seen this season). With them, numerous Pyramidal and Common Spotted Orchids. Salad Burnet & Ox-eye Daisies galore; Grass Vetchling, Red & White Clover, Yellow Rattle, Scabious sp, Meadow Buttercups, Poppies, Common Mouse-ear, Bird’s-foot Trefoil, Wild Marjoram and numerous grasses including the irresistible Quaking-grass. The list, of course, goes on…and exceeds my mental and botanical capabilities.

Over on the westbound slip road, the big, bold and simple beauty of the Ox-eye Daisies mingled with the delicate and elaborate artistry that is Quaking-grass. I wish I’d had the energy today to really capture the scene, either in words or pictures but, for now, it’s just a couple of close-ups…daisies dancing with grasses.





Oh, nearly forgot, Small Blue butterfly count today: 27 eastbound embankment; 7 westbound slip road. Total = 34

10 comments:

  1. Great study Lucy of the eggs and great to see them. A good total of Small Blues seen, quite scarce in Kent.

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    1. Thanks Marc. Yes, it's a rarity in Herts too, which is probably what's driving my pedantic fascination, lol.

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  2. Nice post Lucy - my brother Tim lives in Bourne End, I'll keep my eyes open next time I'm up there (and not in The Anchor!) Do you ever visit the marginal grassland of Little Hay GC ? I've had some good butterfly numbers there, as well as wintering Firecrest; in the hanging woodland which is opposite the Mc Donald's on the A41.

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    1. It's a small world, Dyl! Ah, yes, I know the area you mean but I've not explored it. Box Moor Trust land borders the east side of the golf course, with a couple of glorious wildflower meadows. I tend to concentrate my efforts there, when I can. The best of luck next week in East Kent!

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  3. Replies
    1. lol, there's no denying that a large Sherlock Holmes type magnifying glass would have come in very handy!

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  4. Brilliant find,stunning images.
    John.

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  5. Excellent work as ever Lucy - and what a stunning little microhabitat you have found there!

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    1. Many thanks Martin. It's been a real surprise to see so many species (plants and insects) in that one little area. The Bee Orchids were a highlight especially as they've not returned this year at Westbrook Hay.

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