Tuesday 14 July 2015

In Search of the Large Blue Butterfly

Over the last few weekends I have been visiting the Gloucestershire nature reserve of Daneways Bank hoping to find the Large Blue Butterflies.

This butterfly became extincted in the UK in 1979 but has now been successfully re-introduced at a few sties across the UK with Daneways being one of them.

The Large Blue is one of the most enigmatic butterflies, whose remarkable life cycle involves spending most of the year within the nests of red ants, where the larvae feed on ant grubs.

The butterflies at Daneways seem to favour a couple of places so I concentrated my search over these two areas, on my first visit I could only find one butterfly but with the conditions not being that great I know that I would need to return again in a few days time.


Next visit and the weather almost perfect I started out very hopeful, and not too long into my search a couple of butterflies flew passed me and landed a few feet away. A slow approach and you could soon see that they were Large Blues, further searching found around six to eight individuals some allowing a few photographs. So all in all a good day!.


My next visit about ten days later and again I only found one butterfly so over the course of about 25 days it looked like their season was over for another year.

This reserve is a wonderful place for butterflies and during my searches for the Large Blues I recorded 16 other species.DT




Monday 13 July 2015

Marlborough Downs on 10th July

This was a tour on the amazing Wiltshire Downs to look for a mixture of wildlife including plants, butterflies and birds.

We were still in the car park when we saw the first of many butterflies for the trip, namely ringlet, marbled white, meadow brown and large skipper.

Male marbled white

As we walked away from the car park we were pleased to see a female southern hawker dragonfly; there is very little water in the area so this beauty must have been building up her strength by feeding on the rich wildlife on the downs before heading back to a water source to breed. The song of meadow pipits and skylarks surrounded us from this point until we pretty much finished our walk.

Upon reaching the first bit of downland, we found more butterflies and were able to compare small and Essex skipper as well as seeing small heath, common blue, green-veined white and small tortoiseshell. Our attention switched more to the ground to check out the plants and we were not disappointed! As we worked our way across we recorded marsh helliborine, pyramidal orchid, fragrant orchid, common-spotted orchid, common twayblade, wild thyme, yellow rattle, squinancywort, chalk milkwort and my personal favourite - round-headed rampion. Great stuff!

Marsh helliborine

We then headed out into a piece of farmland to look for birds and in particular corn bunting. We were not disappointed as we soon found a male busily singing from a elder bush. There were also a good number of yellowhammer and whitethroat to add to the ever present skylark and meadow pipits.

Male corn bunting

All in all a very enjoyable trip with much to see! (NA)