Another Painted Lady. August 2014.

A few days ago, as Sarah and I were getting ready to go out, I glanced out of the back door and lo and behold saw a Painted Lady on the garden path, a first for the garden and the 2nd in just a few weeks of finding one at The Lodge. I was about to go for the camera when it took flight over the neighbours garden. Fortunately Sarah had gotten sight of it before departing. With not much time before we were going to leave the house, I scoured the large buddleia outside our front window and refound it amongst the many Small Tortoiseshell butterflies. This time I managed a few shots before it again took to the air and disappeared over the neighbours roofs. 

 Once back from our morning/lunchtime out I had a quick visual scan of the front garden but could not see the Painted Lady. But I would keep checking just in case it was still around, and luckily for me that I did, as it wasn't long before it once again visited the Buddleia to feed. I headed outside and it gratefully posed for some more photographs before departing with no joy thereafter as the weather took a turn for the worse. The next day came and went and the Painted Lady did not turn up again. So after a few years from seeing one last, I then get 2 in the space of a few weeks, and a Hummingbird Hawkmoth on 2 consecutive days, briefly, excellent! And a day later another surprise...scroll down for what?





Well the image below now lets you know what that surprise was. After no activity for some time, I thought the emerging season for the Southern Hawkers had finished and here I was finding one on the 8th August, the figure now must be nearer 30 individuals coming from my little pond, and as of writing this I believe the casing I found this morning could be another new emerged Hawker as it was not in the same area as this recent addition. Fantastic.

In Search of Emperor's. Attempt 1, 2 and 3!. July 2014.

Finishing my last night shift, once home a short kip for just over an hour and I was awake and getting ready to visit Chicksands Wood with Sarah. It was just a short drive away and although a bit breezy it was nice and sunny and warm. This was the first time we had visited here, don't know why considering how close the place is to us! My target was the Purple Emperor, a species of butterfly that neither of us had seen before, although we have tried at another well known location in Hertfordshire.

Peacock
 It was a place that was easy going on foot and a pleasure just strolling around looking for butterflies. It wasn't long before the list started to rise, with some stunners and a few worn specimens passed their best.
 Ringlet
 Speckled Wood
There were numerous Speckled Woods seemingly everywhere, and very territorial. 
Brown Argus 
We encountered a couple of bright Common Blue's and a tatty female, but a single Brown Argus was a good find by Sarah.
 Common Blue
 Comma
 Common Darter
As the heat slowly crept up the dragonflies were everywhere, with Common Darter the most numerous, a few Brown Hawkers and another larger species were seen, although I couldn't tell what species as they did not keep still long enough.
 Silver-washed Fritillary
And if it wasn't a joy to of seen 2 Silver-washed Fritillaries last week, we encountered 3 by the end of the walk. I didn't expect to see this species so it was a bonus to get some more images and this time a lot closer.
 Red Admiral
After some hours we still hadn't connected with a Purple Emperor, so after a long spell photographing the Silver-washed Fritillaries we set off back home.
 Silver-washed Fritillary
(all remaining images below of this species)

 It's amazing the multi-coloured hair on the abdomens when seen in good light.





ATTEMPT 2
The very next day and I decided to head back to Chicksands Wood, this time I took my Dad along with me.
Large Skipper
 My Dad had already seen Purple Emperor but hadn't seen Silver-washed Fritillary so I hoped he would get a new species today. As before the list of species started to rise, plenty of Large Skippers all over the place. And as my Dad was pointing out a rather dark bodied wasp in the brambles, I noticed a small butterfly walking over the leaves. It was quite worn but I knew it was a Hairstreak, and you could just make out the white lines identifying this as a White Letter Hairstreak, a great find and a new species for my Dad, I had seen one some years before but was pleased to encounter another.
 White Letter Hairstreak
 White Letter Hairstreak
 White Letter Hairstreak
 Large White
The search continued and we slowly made our way along the track, taking in any species we encountered. 
Meadow Brown
Brown Argus
 I stopped at the same place Sarah and I had seen the Brown Argus and this time we saw a couple of them, along with a few Common Blue's including a slightly worn female, which enabled a good comparison with the Argus.
 Brown Argus
 Brown Argus
 Common Blue (male)
Common Blue (fem)
 Strangalia Maculata
This insect was a new one for both of us, needing me to check the books for a name, which only refers to it's Latin name.
 Green Veined White
Most of the whites were these two species, and seemingly with the white species they never stay put in one place for long. 
 Large White
White Letter Hairstreak
Retracing our steps back towards the starting point, we found another White Letter Hairstreak, this one was not as tatty as the first, and another welcoming find. Still no sign of any Purple Emperor's, you just know where this is going I bet?
It wasn't long before Silver-washed Fritillary was added as a first and another species for the list, and as the time ticked away I had another pending appointment so the remaining time there was spent with obtaining close up images of the Silver-washed Fritillaries, and this time we encountered a definite 4 individuals and a possible couple more a short distance away. 
 Silver-washed Fritillary
(and images below)
 I had great fun getting these images, they came so close to me at times, almost trying to land on me. And up close the colours I was previously explaining were even more colourful.

 The sun was directly facing me but I thought the back lighting would still give me some decent images. 

 A couple of them were worn but still lovely to see.

This female was actively trying to mate with this male, and as they flew around displaying to eachother, it was noticeable how different the female flew in a more relaxed way, it looked as if the female was being dangled on a piece of string up and down whilst the male flew around her at a more faster pace.
It was now time to leave and as if they had had enough photographs taken, they dispersed with one taking to the trees above me, just about visible which gave up for a lovely image. Unfortunately still no Purple Emperor.
ATTEMPT 3
Well the very next morning and my last attempt to find the Emperor, and I'm sure you've guessed where this is going to end! Well I had a few hours back at Chicksands Wood and yes, I didn't have luck on my side, so I once again strolled the tracks and gained whatever images I could, I did add Small Skipper to the list though. 
 Silver-washed Fritillary
  Silver-washed Fritillary
  Silver-washed Fritillary
 Comma
Look at the body hair colouration on this Comma with the sun on it, stunning.
 Ringlet
 Common Blue (fem)
 Common Blue (fem)
 Brown Argus
 Small Skipper
 Small Skipper
Strangalia Maculata
I found another one of these lovely beetles.
And so after 3 attempts I had no joy in finding a Purple Emperor, but I had a bloody good fun time trying.