Friday, 12 August 2016

Aug 12th Mousehold Heath

Butterfly surveying at Mousehold Heath
Today, I was at Mousehold Heath to help out with a butterfly survey. Will and I was joined by our friend David, giving us an extra pair of eyes to spot butterflies with. With David on our side, we were able to get a good tally of 63 individual butterflies. Most of them were large and small whites, meadow browns and gatekeepers, but we also had 2 red admirals, a small copper, a peacock, a comma, a couple of holly blues and purple hairstreaks and best of all, about 9 common blues!

Small Copper
Common Darter
Holly Blue
Small White
Meadow Brown
Red Admiral
Shield Bug of some kind
Male Common Blue
Yes, you heard me, common blue butterflies! Its been a strange year for these small insects, but it seems they have emerged at last. Obviously I can not count these towards my Strumpshaw 40 challenge, but does this mean my chances of seeing one at Strumpshaw is now looking my positive? I will have to wait until Wednesday to find out. During our survey at Mousehold today, we had about 3 at one section and about 5 or more at another section. We did wonder if some of them were females or brown arguses as both look similar with orange spots on brownish wings, but I think that they were female common blues. No problem in identifying males, however, as the upper wings are bright blue.

Female Common Blue
White-letter Hairstreak
After completing our survey, we had a quick look for white-letter hairstreaks around the elm trees by the car park for Zak's restaurant. We were lucky enough to spot two of them sitting on elm leaves about head height close to us. These butterflies can be difficult to get near to as they spend most of the time near the top of the canopy. They are also very small and can blend in amongst the shade of the leaves, so I am very privileged to get such good views of them. White-letter hairstreaks are so called because of a white marking on the hind underwing that resembles the letter 'W'.

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