Saturday 29 July 2017

A Lack of Hairstreaks

Birdy the herring gull chick was still on the flat roof next door on our return from Dorset which was a surprise as I expected him to have fledged while we were away. He looked bigger and had lost all his downy feathering but appeared lethargic and less vocal. I was a bit concerned but on Saturday 22nd July as I left for work in the early morning I watched him fly across the roof making his awful shrieking noise and on my return home that evening he had gone - hopefully a successful fledgling.

White leter hairstreaks were reported in Central Park in Plymouth on July 14th (the day I was there looking for them) and again on July 17th (when we were away in Dorset) and so with the sun shining on Sunday 23rd July I headed off to have a search for them, this being the first opportunity I had since returning from Dorset. I walked through Ford Park Cemetery along the way and saw a marbled white, a male common blue, a small copper, a ringlet, a peacock, gatekeepers, meadow browns and 6 spot burnet moths flitting about and as I entered the park I could hear ring necked parakeets squawking in the trees. I headed to the area where I had been informed they were present and met a lady butterflyer called Jenny who was looking for them too. She had been there for nearly 2 hours and hadn't found any although neither of us were exactly sure where the butterflies were actually seen. We wandered around the area checking out all the elm and ash trees but with no luck although I did see comma, holly blue and red admiral along with Volucella zonaria and Volucella pellucens hoverflys.

 Volucella pellucens


Just as we were about to call it a day we met a man staring up into a tree and he informed us that he was watching what he thought was a white letter hairstreak in the top branches. Scanning the leaves I eventually found the butterfly but it was a female common blue looking a little lost at the top of a tree. He confirmed which trees the hairstreaks were being seen in though so at least I know where to look next time I try to find them.

That night I had the moth box out in the back yard and in the morning of July 24th I had a grand total of 14 moths of 12 species - I haven't had the mothbox out much this year and when I have the haul has been disappointing, maybe I'm just picking the wrong nights? The moths caught were 2 male four spotted footman, a dunbar, a Jersey tiger moth, a Crassa unitella, a small magpie, a marbled conch (Eupoecilia angustana), an Anania coronata, a common rustic agg., a grey/dark dagger, a brimstone moth and a crambus sp. - quality if not quantity.

 Brimstone Moth

 Grey/Dark Dagger


I was feeling quite unwell while I was sorting out the mothbox and as the morning progressed spent a lot of time on the toilet being very unwell and the afternoon laying on the sofa feeling awful and like I had been kicked in the guts by a mule so a planned trip to the beach at Cawsands went out of the window. I had to phone in sick the next day due to infection control policy, something I hate to do, but with the sun shining and with my guts feeling better but still incredibly sore we decided to head over to Cawsands for the day. I was a little trepidatious but the day went ok although laying on a beach was most uncomfortable and I spent quite a bit of time covered up and asleep.

There were quite a few butterflies on the buddlea flowers along the cliff base at the beach and so I did a count for the Big Butterfly Count being run by Butterfly Conservation and saw a comma, a wall, 3 meadow brown, a gatekeeper, a female common blue, 2 painted lady, 10 peacock, 1 small white, 4 large white and 7 red admiral in the 15 minutes counting time.

Walking back through Mount Edgecumbe park to Cremyl to catch the ferry back to Plymouth and I added a ringlet and 4 worn silver washed fritillary to the days butterfly species list but there was no sign of any purple hairstreaks again in the tree where I saw them 2 years ago. David found some fallow deer hiding amongst the trees, 4 adults and 2 fawns, before they ran off out of sight.

 Silver Washed Fritillary

Silver Washed Fritillary

Fallow Deer

At Cremyl a Sandwich tern was diving for fish and from the ferry back to The Barbican I saw another Sandwich tern and an adult winter and juvenile Mediterranean gull. Arriving home and I was very glad to sit down and relax on the sofa after a hot and busy and achey day out.

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