A perennial problem for pre-arranged butterfly walks is the weather. So, it no surprise when rain and wind led to the cancellation of the butterfly walk scheduled for 14th July. The weather forecast for a week later looked more promising for another try and so it proved when four of us (Moira, Mary, Nigel and myself) arrived at the Summer Down Carpark (TQ269111) on Devil’s Dyke Road.
Immediately on leaving the carpark we started seeing butterflies, Meadow Browns and Small/Essex Skippers in abundance but also good numbers of Marbled Whites and Gatekeepers before we were pleased to catch up with one of the chalk downland specialities, the Dark Green Fritillary. Several of these were busy nectaring allowing good views and opportunities for photography.
Some amusement was caused by my unsuccessful attempts at catching the Small/Essex Skippers to see if I could show the main way of separating the two common species by examining the underside of their antennae. As expected, there were plenty of Red Admirals as this year seems to be The Year of the Red Admiral. It is not clear yet how many of these are locally produced but many are thought to be the result of a large influx from the continent.
Altogether we recorded 16 butterfly species, the most interesting being a Small Blue, a Wall Brown and a stunning Painted Lady. The last two species spotted by eagle-eyed Nigel. The count of blue butterflies was disappointing but a couple of freshly emerged Common Blues were nice to see.
Apart from the butterflies we recorded 3 species of moths. The day-flying Six-spot and Narrow-bordered Five-spot Burnets together with their yellow cocoons. The third moth species being an interesting record of a large female Ghost Moth in the process of being eaten by well-marked black and white spider (my photo does not do it justice.)
Altogether an interesting morning of butterfly watching in ideal weather conditions.
Common Blue Dark Green Fritillary Gatekeeper
Ghost Moth being eaten by spider! Painted Lady