Monday, 19 August 2013

Graylings, Dark Green Fritillaries, Clouded Yellows and a Roller - 18th August 2013

The original plan for the weekend of the 11th of August was to head to a site near Reading in the hope that we could see some of the Grayling butterflies there. The plans changed rather quickly though when a Roller appeared on the east coast of Norfolk and hung around for a few days and as you can see Grayling there too we decided to head there instead. We (Jon and Kirsty Philpot, John Friendship-Taylor and me) had arrived in Horsey mid morning and were comforted by the news that the bird was still showing well near the end of the Nelsons Head track. It took a little longer to get to the end of the track though due to the wealth of insect life that was in the area. We were staggered by the amount of butterflies and dragonflies all over the place with Purple Hairtreaks flying around in the Oak trees by the side of the road and dragonflies hawking constantly above our heads. Walking along the track found lots of Silver Y moths, Common Blues, Small, Large and Green Veined Whites and a Buddleia bush almost hanging with the weight of Peacock butterflies and Bees nectaring off it. As soon as we got down to the dunes masses of butterflies could be seen flying amongst the grasses with Dark Green Fritillaries being instantly apparent. Some of them looked remarkably fresh considering they should be reaching the end of their flight time.

Dark Green Fritillary

Dark Green Fritillary

As I searched the area eventually I saw a different looking butterfly further up the dune and a closer look showed it to be a Grayling nectaring on a flower. This was proving to be a good morning as both the target species were seen almost as soon as we had got there and they were both new species for me too.

Grayling
Eventually we reached all the other twitchers and we got good scope views of the Roller as it busily flew from fence post to fence post while it fed. Unfortunately it was too distant for a decent pic but I did manage a passable record shot digiscoping with the phones camera.

Roller
It turns out another butterfly lifer had whizzed past without me noticing as after a chat with  couple of lads I had met earlier in the year at Fermyn Woods looking for Purple Emperor (it's amazing how you constantly bump into like minded people you recognise all over the country) it turned out a Clouded Yellow had shot past just before I had arrived. After getting our fill of the Roller we started to explore more of the area. Lots Grey Seals were relaxing on the beach on the other side of the dunes and were putting on quite a show as they rolled around scratching themselves and making some very strange noises in the process.

Grey Seal
 A Common Lizard was basking in the sun on the steps up the dunes and certainly didn't seem to mind me taking it picture as it let me get very close.

Common Lizard
Common Lizard
As I climbed the stairs a Painted Lady was flying among the grasses and on the top of the dunes more Graylings could be seen and they didn't seem to be shy with one resting on my boot and another landing on John Friendship-Taylor's camera!

Grayling
We slowly walked back along the track adding a Wall butterfly to the daylist along the way and after having quick pint in the Nelsons Head pub we walked back to the car. A very confided Common Darter just up the track from the pub allowed me to take a close up of it before it finally shot off.

Common Darter
We headed to How Hill reserve after this as a second generation Swallowtail Butterfly had been seen a few days previous but despite a good search we couldn't find one. So we left here and headed to Cley to see the Red Necked Phalarope that had been reported and luckily a few people were already in the hide looking at it so we had it pointed out to us pretty quickly. By now the clouds were rolling in casting a bit of a chill on an otherwise beautiful sunny day. I took the opportunity to take a landscape pic on the beach as the sky looked pretty dramatic.

Cley Beach
We then popped to Kelling Water Meadows to see the Wood Sandpipers and once again the sun came out casting a very nice light on the area. We saw the Wood Sands after a bit of searching and we spent a while admiring the local waders with some very nice looking Black Tailed Godwits, Greenshanks and Ruff. A local Stonechat provided a bit of entertainment too as Jon very kindly allowed me to take some shots with his 500mm prime lens.

Ruff

Stonechat
We then spent the rest of the evening at a good birding friend of mines house for a BBQ and a beer, and a very nice evening we had too! So many thanks to Kieran and Leila for their hospitality!

The following Sunday (the 18th) I finally caught up with Clouded Yellows. During the previous week a mini invasion had obviously begun but as I was at work I couldn't get out to find them. Reading the reports of them being seen all over the place made it my mission to see one at the weekend. I had heard from a friend on Facebook that two had been seen at Twywell Hills and Dales the previous Friday so I headed there first thing in the morning but after searching for over three hours I couldn't find one and that depressing "sinking feeling" started to set in. I had managed to get some pics of the other local butterflies so it wasn't a complete waste of time.

Peacock

Peacock

Common Blue

Wasp
   I was starting to think of giving up but luckily a mate of mine Sam Candy rang to find out where I was and he came over to join me. This fortunately gave me an added boost of enthusiasm and we decided to head over to another site up near Peterborough were they had been reported a couple of days previous. Having never been there before we had to use the Ordnance Survey map to find it and soon we were wandering along a track looking out once again for Clouded Yellows. Lots of Common Blues were about too and Common Darters were resting on the fence posts A nice looking Brown Argus also gave prolonged views as it basked in the sun.

Brown Argus

Common Darter
Eventually as we walked further along (dodging the Trials bikes which sometimes got dangerously close) I looked along the ditch and a mustard coloured butterfly shot through at quite a speed before tuning around and heading back. At last I had finally seen my first Clouded Yellow! This was my 40th butterfly species of the year which I don't think is too bad as with the exception of Norfolk we hadn't traveled too far in the search for them. We walked along the path and found some Buddleia bushes dripping in Peacocks and Red Admirals before looking back and seeing a chap standing in the area the Clouded Yellow was in with a camera so we headed over to join him. We found ourselves in an area carpeted with Trefoil flowers and the sight of at least three Clouded Yellow butterflies whirling around. They certainly took some patience to photograph as they were very skittish and hard to approach but after a bit of perseverance I finally got some shots I was happy with.

Clouded Yellow

Clouded Yellow
We walked back towards the car, once again dodging the trials bikes that had now been joined by quad bikes kicking up even more dirt (slightly ironically they were using a "No Motorcycles" sign as a cornering post), and we remarked on just how well the day had finally turned out. We had the customary beer on the way home too. Many thanks also the local chap who we met at the Clouded Yellows, I am afraid I cannot remember his name but if you are reading this then thanks for your help.





2 comments:

  1. What a great selection of images David

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  2. Thanks Douglas, the Clouded Yellows gave me the run around but I got there in the end.

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