Friday, 25 April 2008

Not so Dingy

This morning I returned to the "shelf" or tramway at Langdon. After two attempts on warm afternoons to photograph Dingy Skippers I decided to try the morning.

As I slowly descended the steep path from the car park I soon came across the second target of the visit, a Wall (Brown) Butterfly. Possible most attractive of the brown butterflies, it lives up to its name by often basking on walls, rocks and stony places. It needs to do this to raise its body temperature so that it can fly. The Walls that are flying early in the year have over-wintered as caterpillars and then pupated in the spring. Unlike pictures of pinned butterflies it isn't possible to arrange the vegetation exactly as you would like it, hence the piece of grass just in the wrong place.

More flowering plants are now providing nectar for insects, and this Small White is on Wild Cabbage, the original species, that gave rise to many of our green vegetables.

Viper's Bugloss is now flowering and it is attractive to many insects. This is the local relative to the Echiums that are now growing in profusion in our garden, but not yet in flower.

One of the most important plants here is the Horseshoe Vetch. It is the exclusive food plant of the Chalkhill Blue and Adonis Blue Butterfly caterpillars and a probable food plant for the caterpillars of Dingy Skippers and Small Blues.

As I was searching for the Skippers I cam across this Peacock Butterfly sunning itself on a Chalk Rock.
I finally found a Dingy Skipper and watched it flying for a while. Eventually it settled down and allowed a few pictures. I really dislike the vernacular name of this subtly marked little butterfly. It may not be a gaudy Peacock or Red Admiral, but it deserves a more appreciative name than Dingy.
At little further on I found a second Dingy Skipper basking in the sun, it is interesting how the pattern varies slightly in each specimen, rather like a fingerprint.

After finding both Redstarts flitting through the bushes a couple of days ago I was disappointed that there were very few birds to be seen, although all the time I was within earshot of a Lesser Whitethroat, from a distance all you hear is the Cirl Bunting like rattle but close to the quiet warble that precedes it is audible.

In the last bushes before the climb to the top I glimpsed the movement of a large warbler. At first all I could see was the grey back and hopes soared for something out of the ordinary. It wasn't long before it popped out and revealed its identity. I've never photographed a female Blackcap before so I couldn't be too disappointed.

After a quarter of an hour game of hide and seek it finally came out properly and was almost posing for a portrait.


Carol said...

Wonderful photo's again Tony, the Peacock Butterfly is lovely.
Cheers Carol

Ps. The Stoat, the other day, terrific too.

Steve said...

some great pictures today Tony. really like the Wall. I haven't seen a Wall in West Kent for a long time. I did find my first grizzled skipper of the year at New Hythe today though which was good

Kingsdowner said...

Nice pics Tony - I didn't see a Wall last year, so that's a good record. I'll have to go ahuntin' Dingy Skippers now.