Saturday, 14 August 2010


Despite a forecast of rain for the morning of Saturday 14th, it ended up being warm enough at the country park for many insects to fly about, such as this male common blue butterfly, pictured above starting to look tatty on the wing-edges.

This poor quality picture was the best of a couple of very hurried digiscoped attempts at trying to photograph a grayling butterfly which had landed on the roof of my house in the car park. Whilst sitting at a picnic table next to the information room at lunchtime chatting to a colleague Helen Harpole, we both watched a large pale-orange and brown butterfly fly strongly and erratically towards a white buddliea bush. The flight and size was similiar to a painted lady but the feature of the upper wings was the yellow-orange markings, very different to the regular meadow browns or any other resident butterflies here at the park.

The butterfly landed on a low white buddliea spike and began to feed briefly. It had tucked its wings in straightaway but still showed a black eye-spot near the forewing corner. Along this leading edge were one or two alternate pale and brown markings, while the underwing was mainly dark mottled brown with a creamy cross band, a feature suggesting a male grayling. The features are just about visible in the photo above.

Whilst turning to dash to get the camera, the grayling flew off high but luckily landed on the nearby bungalow roof where we were both able to get a view through the telescope. The butterfly soon tilted its wings to one side, presumably an attempt to reduce its shadow and catch the sun too. After a brief minute on the roof, it flew off back to the car park and wasn't seen again.

Not only is this a rarity for the country park, it is also an Essex rarity having been lost as a breeding species in the county for about 15 years, when they were last recorded on Middlewick ranges just south of Colchester. The nearest breeding site currently, is probably somewhere along the south Suffolk coast. Where this individual has come from, is a mystery.

Along the edge of the park borrowdyke are lots of clumps of narrow-leaved birds foot trefoil, where several common blue butterflies were seen and also a brown argus, the first record for the park this summer. On the water at least five small red-eyed damselflies were noted.
In the park a red underwing moth fluttered around some bushes and an adder was out basking.

Birds noted included a wheatear at the Point, 100 swallows flying over the fields, 5+ yellow wagtails, 2 sparrowhawks, 4 green sandpipers and snipe on the fields, 3 green woodpeckers, 10 stock doves near the pond, 2 willow warblers and 2 calling nightingales in the park.

An evening walk near Meeting Lane provided views of two duetting little owls, a marsh harrier, 2 willow warblers, 4 green woodpeckers, a greenshank but no sign of any hobbies.

No comments: