Saturday, 8 June 2013

Hunt for the Heath!

After having an early morning walk around the Reculver area in cloudy and very breezy conditions and not seeing that much to trouble the notebook I returned home for a bit before venturing out again at 12.30pm in the hope that a few butterflies and Dragonflies would be on the wing. The wind was still too strong really and the sun was only out for a few seconds at a time before moving behind clouds but I started off with a walk around East Blean Wood in the search of one of Britain's rarest butterflies, the Heath Fritillary. Normally by this time I have seen a few individuals and various areas are coppiced for this species so I looked in a few likely areas but try as I did, I could not see any. With no adults emerging I then thought of plan B, try and look for some Heath Fritillary caterpillars, not the easiest of tasks but after a bit of perseverance I found a few basking in the sun. I eventually got my eye in and soon started counting quite a few and in the small area I did a count in, I ended up with 100+ Heath Fritillary Caterpillars. A lot of them looked fully grown so I suspect in the next few days they will go into hiding and appear in a weeks time. No doubt if the sun does continue to shine the odd adult should be seen next week.


Heath Fritillary Caterpillar

The only other butterfly noted here was 1 Large White. I then took the 5 minute drive to Westbere Lakes where I hoped a few Dragonflies would be sheltering in sun out of the wind. I walked up to the river and noted lots of Blue tailed Damselflies with a few Variable and Azure Damselflies. Near the river I found 3 Banded Demoiselle and back at the entrance I found the Scarce Chaser but while taking a photo a wasp dived on to its back and they fell into the grass together. I took a look and thankfully the wasp soon let go and moved off allowing a rather dazed Chaser to climb back up the grass. I don't know if the wasp stung the Chaser but he soon went off high into the trees to no doubt rest. Not quite the Fritillary shots in the warm sunshine I was after but an education into finding caterpillars and hopefully in a few days time I shall start getting a few Heath Fritillary shots. Not sure if its Blogger or me but again the top photo has uploaded looking very noisy and nothing like the original I have on my computer. A right pain!

Heath Fritillary Caterpillar

5 comments:

  1. This weather is a bit frustrating at the moment marc, well, for photography anyway!

    Maybe your pics come out a bit grainy becuase 'blogger' magnifies the image a bit more ? Just a thought.

    Look forward to seeing your Heath Fritillary shots later this month then :-)

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  2. Heath Fritillary Caterpillars....Simply stunning images Marc, you must be really pleased with these....I was just looking at them.

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  3. Quite like the top image. Tricky to get the lighting right, also the wood ants climbing up my leg was a bit painful!!

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  4. Marc ,
    You will probably have to wait more than a week for the adults .
    The pupa stage takes anything from 15-25 days , which would put them towards the end of the month , like many other species , well late this year .
    They will be well worth it though , that's for sure .

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  5. What a stunning caterpillar Marc...a species we don't have in these parts

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