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 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 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.

30 Days Wild Pan-species Challenge: Day 19

Unsurprisingly, given the perfect moth-trapping weather last night, I found my best catch of the year waiting for me this morning. With ten lifers making up their numbers!

My favourite was this female Map-winged Swift:


Map-winged Swift

Making up the large micro lifer contingent was this Grapholita janthinana:

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Grapholita janthinana

The scarcest moth in the trap was a Valerian Pug, also a lifer.

30 Days Wild Pan-species Challenge: Day 13

Nemophora degeerella was my lifer for the day, another pretty micro-moth, on my way home from college. But that wasn’t my most exciting find today.


Nemophora degeerella

I found a Carabid which I recognised as a Panagaeus. Both species in the genus are very scarce, but I’m fairly certain I had bipustulatus, the commoner of the two. From the relatively breif views I got of it, I saw that the amount of orange on the elytra fitted bipustulatus better. But the habitat is much more typical for the commoner species, on a dry railway embankment. This is potentially a very significant find as it would be the second Yorkshire site away from Spurn. Unfortunately, it was too quick for a photo.

30 Days Wild Pan-species Challenge: Day 12

The moth trap was once again did bits for me, with two more lifers inside.

The first was this nice Ringed China-mark, Parapoynx stratiotata.


Parapoynx stratiotata

China-marks still fascinate me because of their aquatic lifestyle as a caterpillar, I’d love to find one in the water! This one is quite cosmopolitan in its choice of aquatic foodplants but I doubt it has hatched from my tiny excuse for a garden pond.

The second lifer was a very worn Grey Pug, which was hardly worth a photograph.

As you can see, I’m still frequently adding very common species to my list, even macros and even in my own garden. While it might seem quite high, my moth list of 271 pales into insignificance when you consider there are around 2500 species in the country, and we’re talking about one of the species groups which I concentrate on most here!

30 Days Wild Pan-species Challenge: Day 11

I’ve got an absolutely cracking set of species from Chambers Farm Wood for today’s post, including my first new butterfly of the month.

First identified tick of the day were these Vestal Cuckoo Bees, Bombus vestalis:


Bombus vestalis

They abounded in the whole wood, but the real reason I came to Chambers was the Marsh Fritillaries, and, although they were worn (we are coming towards the end of the flight season), they did not disappoint.




Marsh Fritillary

These were my most wanted resident British butterfly up until today, and they are now my favourite. This population almost definitely results from an unofficial introduction, although I’m fairly sure that the butterfly was known from the area in the past, so I don’t see a problem with it.

Another massive highlight was the display that the (certainly introduced) Black Hairstreaks put on. These weren’t a lifer but my only previous views were distant and brief so this was a nice change!



Black Hairstreak

I also saw 2 Broad-bordered Bee Hawk-moths, but the pictures aren’t worth sharing, I’m still getting used to my sister’s camera which I’m borrowing.