Monday, 1 August 2011

Get Counting those Butterflies

A beautiful day, and after watching England pile on the runs, against an extremely poor Indian bowling attack I decided on a walk, confident that our bowlers would do the necessary without my help.

Birds were understandably quiet, both because of the season and because it was mid day, but I did watch a couple of Kestrels hovering over the cliff top. Just past the monument I noticed this rather delicate pale moth, and knew it was one I'd seen before. When I checked at home I found it was a pyralid, Sitochroa palealis, and that I had indeed caught one in the garden, back on July 22nd, 2004. It is associated with coastal areas in the south-east and the food plant is Wild Carrot, which is plentiful in the area.

There's been a lot in the media about butterflies and "The Big Butterfly Count". Click on the link to take part. I know that it is natural, but it is always the bright, well known butterflies that are in the limelight. The publicity uses a Red Admiral, and the poster shows a Small Tortoiseshell prominently. As in everything the less flamboyant individuals get less notice taken of them. Today there were loads of Meadow Browns around.

Gate-keepers, what used to be Hedge Browns when I wore short trousers are also out in good numbers, there's even a small colony in my garden.

One of my favourite "browns" is the Marbled White (it is in the brown family). This is a chalk loving butterfly and I can still remember the first one I ever saw, at St Mary's Bay, back in the 50's. It is one species that does seem to be doing OK round here.

There were lots of one of the iconic butterflies of Kent , the Chalkhill Blue, around today. My larger and more obvious than the other blues species they were in good numbers along Kings down Lees. I actually saw few birds here, with large numbers of House Martins congregating and sitting on some of the tiles on one of the houses. The do this every year when it hot, as if they are warming themselves on the hot tiles. On one roof there was a male Black Redstart chasing insects.

Looking towards Deal I could see a few people actually on Kingsdown "beach". Not easy to make sand castles out of the pebbles, but a short walk to the Zetland Arms for a pint! When I got home I found my faith in our bowlers had been fully justified.


Susan said...

You can't move here for Gatekeepers at the moment. In June it was the same for Marbled Whites but their numbers have dropped right off now. For some reason I can't fathom I don't get Chalkhill Blues in any of my survey transects - very disappointing (but I do get Scarce Large Blues, which is nice).

Tony Morris said...

I think Chalkhill Blues are a bit fussy. On the chalk downland near here they can be exceptionally plentiful, but missing in other areas. Overall the diversity of butterflies you have absolutely dwarfs ours here!