Tuesday, 17 July 2018

July 17th Mousehold Heath

Butterfly walk at Mousehold Heath today
Today, I joined a butterfly walk at Mousehold Heath. The group was led by Will the warden and Norfolk butterfly recorder Andy Brazil. Andy was yet again armed with his net and pots to catch and show them to everyone. It was a pretty productive walk with a great turn up of butterfly species. The one species we were hoping to see, though, was the silver-washed fritillary, which have been seen here for the first time ever this year. Unfortunately, the fritillaries were avoiding us this time around. However, we did have two main highlights that were just as good.

Purple Hairstreak
Purple hairstreaks are always great to see, but they rarely seen near ground level as they spend much of their lives up in the canopy, often too high for a closer look. Thankfully, we were lucky enough for one to land in the tall dried grass for Andy to make a successful catch. The purple part of this butterfly are on the upper wings of the males and like most other hairstreaks, they tend to keep their wings closed while they are not in flight. It is still pretty enough with them closed, though, especially those silvery markings, which gives the butterfly its other part of its name of 'hairstreak'.

Brown Argus
The other species that we were pleased in seeing today was a brown argus, which we found at a section of the site we've never recorded them at before. This species is actually a blue butterfly despite being brown. What I mean by this is that they share the same family as common blue butterflies. In fact, if this one was to show its upper wings, it would have a similar pattern as a female common blue with its set of orange spots on its brown wings, though on the common blue, it has a slight blue sheen to their wings. Annoyingly, this individual would not open its wings to show us this pattern of spots. Maybe it thinks that it was a hairstreak?

Holly Blue

While butterflies were everywhere, the best place to see them happened to be at the Mustard Pond. This, the newest of the two ponds, had many butterflies as well as wasps visiting the mud along its edges. Species such as holly blues, commas and red admirals were visiting these muddy edges to extract minerals that are otherwise missing from their nectar rich diets. Here's what else we saw today...

Red Admiral
Speckled Wood
Green-veined White
An abnormal looking Green-veined White

Essex Skipper

Meadow Brown
Silver-Y Moth

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