High on Fritillaries

So, in late July I went to the Lake District with my family, and no matter how glorified it is compared with its biological value, Arnside still has good butterflies. Here are the Lepidopteran highlights of my trip.

Near to where we were staying these Purple Hairstreaks put on a great show one evening, but failed to appear subsequently. They adorned a small oak on a hillside, allowing spectacular views. This is the first time I have seen the purple properly.


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Purple Hairstreak

In the one nice day we had, I managed to get to Arnside Knott, hoping for some new butterflies.

The first of which I saw almost immediately; High Brown Fritillary.


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High Brown Fritillary

All but one of the frits I clinched turned out to be female High Browns, the other a male, which I found odd, considering Dark Green is much commoner country-wide and female butterflies are usually more retiring than males. Most were rocketing over the slopes, too fast to follow, but a pair seemed to favour a sheltered patch of Bracken.

My second new butterfly came just as we were leaving. I had gone to look on the other side of the knott for it when my mum called me and told me she thought she’d found it. I walked relatively casually back, thinking there was no chance of it still being there as well as being the target species.

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Northern Brown Argus

I was wrong.

I was a bit on the late side, as can be seen from the wear on this individual, but I knew there was a chance. Sometimes you get lucky with wildlife. I did miss a flyover Honey Buzzard, but let’s forget about that.

Fresh Scotch Arguses were a real treat too, having only seen battered individuals on my previous visit to the knott.

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Scotch Argus

The moth trapping was amazing at our cabin, my personal highlight was this Large Emerald.

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Large Emerald


30 Days Wild Pan-species Challenge: Final Day!

I’ve done it; I’ve had one pan-species lifer per day for the last month for 30 days wild. I started the month on 1437 species, and I end the month on 1546. Now, I know what your’re thinking, “That’s a gain of 109 species, not 30?!?!” Well, this increase includes all the times I had too many lifers to identify/blog about in one day, and it also includes identifications of species found in other months.

We started on an ant-lion and we end on yet another moth. This time a macro; this Small Yellow Wave which I found fluttering around a copse on the edge of my village, fortunately it settled long enough for a picture.


Small Yellow Wave

I doesn’t look that yellow in this photo but is still a very pretty moth, quite a nice ender, at least its a macro!


30 Days Wild Pan-species Challenge: Day 29

Yet another moth. I do make a conscious effort to identify every moth which I don’t recognise, as I do with bees, so it makes sense that this series has been overloaded with them. Other groups are a lot easier to master.

Glyphipterix simpliciella made up today’s part of the moth lifer contingent. It was in the grassy meadow area of my local botanical gardens.

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The foodplant of this moth is the grass known as Cocksfoot, hence why its colloquial name is Cocksfoot Moth. Makes sense right?

I really like these sort of micros, they look like Grapholita and they just look clean.

30 Days Wild Pan-species Challenge: Day 27

Rubbish weather today, but a slightly brighter patch prompted me to go out into the grassy alleyway behind by house and I found this diminutive but stunning Grapholita compositella, today’s lifer.

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Grapholita compositella

Grapholita are a great little group of moths with their blue-grey background colour and minimalist white detail, and compositella is distinctive in having the blotch covering the trailing edge of the forewings divided into 4 strips.

30 Days Wild Pan-species Challenge: Day 26

Crowle Moors was absoloutley heaving with insects today, I’m sure once I’ve identified them all there will be some rare ones/loads of things I’ve never seen before.

However, my overriding target was the Large Heath, a specialist of these lowland bogs. In previous years I have managed to miss this butterfly while my family saw it, don’t ask me how this happened!

Today was different, however and this time I came away victorious. In total, we saw at least five individuals, mainly feeding on thistle.

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Large Heath

The Large Heaths were a nightmare to photograph, they kept leaning and turning in weird angles, and the multitudes of Large Skippers, Meadow Browns and Ringlets wouldn’t share the thistle nicely.

There was quality in other taxonomic groups too, a female Adder making her way through tinder-dry vegetation and the distinctive songs of Tree Pipit, Cuckoo and a single Garden Warbler.


30 Days Wild Pan-species Challenge: Day 25

Today’s lifer was a nice hoverfly which goes by the name of Eupeodes corollae, a common species which lives in virtually every corner of the British Isles. I found it on a road verge near my village, it was feeding on an Umbellifer amongst a plethora of Episyrphus balteatus.


Eupeodes corollae

It’s a prertty standard-looking hoverfly but they all count. I believe that the joined stripes on the abdomen are characteristic of this species.


30 Days Wild Pan-species Challenge: Day 23 and 24

Well, I did get my pan-species lifer yesterday, but I didn’t have time to blog about it. Have I failed my challenge? I think I’ve at least done enough to warrant carrying on.

Anyway, here’s yesterday’s lifer, a Rustic Shoulder-knot from the garden moth trap.

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Rustic Shoulder-knot

And today, whilst volunteering at RSPB Bempton Cliffs, I went to check out the Northern Marsh-orchids and I found this specimen which is literally days in not hours away from going over completely!


Northern Marsh-orchid

I got that lifer by the skin of my teeth.


Common Spotted x Northern Marsh-orchid?

I also saw this, which I think looks like Common Spotted x Northern Marsh, all of the orchids I saw on site resembled this bar the pure Northern Marsh mentioned earlier. It seemed darker than the photo shows but it could just be a very, very well-marked Common Spotted. I have indeed noticed that the strength of the spots on Common Spotted-orchids varies from site to site. Common Spotted x Northern Marsh has been seen on this site previously.

30 Days Wild Pan-species Challenge: Day 22

A bit of a conundrum today: I suspect this is Smicronyx jungermanniae, which would be a lifer, but I admittedly have no experience on whether this species needs microscopy or anything to confirm.


It was on a fencepost in a grassy area on Flamborough Head, but it could have been blown from anywhere as it was quite windy today and I would be extremely grateful if someone could shed a bit of light on this for me.

30 Days Wild Pan-species Challenge: Day 21

Today’s pan-species lifer was a pretty little sawfly that goes by the name of Athalia rosae, I noticed it flying along a border in my garden, a common species, but I’m quite taken with it.



Athalia rosae

It is separated from other very similar Athalia species by the orange on the thorax which results in a black ‘shoulder-pad’ effect as can be seen in the second photo.


30 Days Wild Pan-species Challenge: Day 20

This period for me is filled with university open days, and today fitted the trend. I went to the Oxford University day today, where the first bird seen in the city was a Red Kite.

Whilst sat in a talk I briefly noticed a large moth in the quad with lots of red on it, I toyed with the idea of it being a Scarlet or Jersey Tiger. Or had I just overestimated the size of a Cinnabar?

Later, when by the Bodleian I saw a definite example of a Scarlet Tiger. Surely one of the best moths in Britain?

Sadly it was too quick for a picture.