Thursday, 28 April 2011

New lough

A visit to a new location - an interesting blend of heath, bog and lake - yielded a decent set of images for today.

We're right in the peak of the Orange Tip butterfly season, and there were hundreds of them chasing, nectaring and egg-laying on their host plant: Cardamine pratensis. This is a male, and if you look closely, you can see a single orange egg just to the right of centre:

Male Orange Tip and egg
This is the first female I saw this year, although there were plenty at the location:

Female Orange Tip butterfly
Every plant had one or two specimens of either sex jostling for position:

Orange Tip males

Bog Violet is easily distinguished by its pale, rounded flowers and very round leaves. It's always found in boggier areas:
Bog Violet

This Flame Carpet moth was flying around in broad daylight, although I usually only see it late at night:
Flame Carpet moth
Staying with moths, this Drinker Moth caterpillar was basking on a large rock. I associate these with dry grasses and reeds.
Drinker Moth larva

The leaves on the Willow bushes are only just opening and already the Willow Leaf Beetle - Lochmaea caprea - has made an appearance. The black larvae will eat the upper surface of many leaves over the next few weeks.
Willow Leaf beetle - Lochmaea caprea
The black fly at the top of the picture is a male of one of the Bibio St. Marks Flies.

7 comments:

Emma Springfield said...

Lovely pictures once again. I see you are still enjoying nice weather. The colors on the butterflies are gorgeous.

Colin Griffiths said...

Thanks for the information. I have been seeing orange tipped butterflies at a local nature reserve and I have also noticed cuckoo flowers, but I never would have put the two together!

Stuart said...

Emma: yes, we're having a wonderful spell of weather. Long may it continue!

Colin: Orange Tips use Cuckoo Flower on my patch, but they also use some related plants in other locations: Dame's Violet, which is a naturalised garden escape and Garlic Mustard.

Orange Tips are so strongly associated with their host plant that they nectar on them as adults and roost on them at night.

Gill said...

"Colin: Orange Tips use Cuckoo Flower on my patch, but they also use some related plants in other locations: Dame's Violet, which is a naturalised garden escape and Garlic Mustard."

Yep, mine seem to use mostly garlic mustard but they also nectar on the honesty in the garden - I've not found any eggs though.

Caroline Gill said...

A productive expedition, Stuart, and I love your Orange Tip egg.

No pressure, but if you were passing, I wonder if you know what creature this is (penultimate pic.)... here

Stuart said...

Caroline: I put up a couple of tentative id's on your page, and I just realised you have a query on your Common Blue Damsel. It looks like Azure Damsel to me (the first black mark on the abdomen is shaped like an underlined U. In Common Blue, it's an oval on a stalk.)

Caroline Gill said...

I'm really grateful for all your help, Stuart, and have posted the Azure Damsel bit up on the post under the photo. Thank you!