Sunday, 25 September 2011

Jersey sightings - more butterflies



A few more butterfly sightings from our trip to Jersey, Wall Brown, Grayling, Gatekeeper, Small Skipper and Common Blue.






Sunday, 21 August 2011

Jersey sightings


On a recent trip to Jersey, one of our best sightings has to be this Map butterfly (Araschnia levana) that we discovered quite by chance in a bramble hedgerow at east of the island. 

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Dragonfly on the allotment fence


Passing by the side of the Headingley Station allotments at lunchtime , my attention was drawn to a cluster of tiny raspberries peeping through the fence. Reaching for a berry, I was surprised to see a dragonfly perched on the foliage. On closer inspection I think its a Brown Hawker, looking a little lop-sided. There's a small stream that runs the length of the fence on the allotment side, I've seen damselflies here before but never a dragonfly, they can be seen in numbers in certain spots along the canal.

Not having a camera on me I had to resort to a pic on my phone, so apologies for the awful quality.

Sunday, 10 July 2011

Allotment and garden sightings

After the excitement of the Kirkstall Festival, we popped over to the allotment to weed, water and harvest, returning home with broad beans, turnips, gooseberries and raspberries. Lovely to see a Meadow Brown (Maniola jurtina) in the herb patch, feeding on Marjoram flowers.




The broad beans were lightly steamed and served alongside a nice piece of Salmon, the gooseberries transformed into a gooseberry cheesecake, the raspberries sat on top of a generous dollop of fresh cream on top of a fruit scone purchased earlier at the festival. Yum!

Back in the house, from the back door I spotted this Comma sunning itself on a potted hosta in the back garden.

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Rodley Nature Reserve

A weekend trip to Rodley Nature Reserve offered the first dragonfly sighting of the year in the form of this Four Spotted Chaser, accompanied by a restless Brown Hawker and a female Broad Bodied Chaser.



On our way out we popped into the Lagoon Hide where we bumped into Chloe, Gav and Jackie, visiting the reserve for the first time. In a welcoming display of impeccable timing a Kingfisher flew into view to settle on its post before moving to another perch, focussing intently on the water below before propelling itself underwater and emerging triumphant with a fish.



Twenty+ Ringlets fluttered amongst the long grasses of the embankment running alongside the Access Road. A handful of Meadow Browns evaded our attempts to photograph them in the Hay Meadow. Five Small Tortoiseshell settled amongst nettles around the Dragonfly ponds where we saw a female Kestrel fly overhead.

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Brockadale Nature Reserve (II)

In addition to the virtually monochromatic Marbled Whites at Brockadale Nature Reserve we saw a variety of more colourful butterflies. Ten Small Skipper (Thymelicus sylvestris) first sightings of the year, the underside of the forewing an orangey-russet colour, its head and thorax look as furry as a fox.


30+ Six-Spot Burnets, this one feeding on nectar rich Centaurea which along with Red Clover appeared to be the popular dishes of the day. In a similar fashion to last year's visit, Yellowhammer called out from the treetops around the reserve, and a Buzzard circled skyward for a few minutes before soaring out of view. 


A friendly chap pointed us in the direction of previously sighted Dark Green Fritillary (Argynnis aglaja) and it wasn't long before a couple appeared, then another, where they tirelessly dashed above the grassland, occasionally stopping to feed on Red Clover. Disappointingly this was the least blurred photo I managed to get, but good enough for a record pic. This is the second time Ive seen one, the first being two years ago at Druridge Pools Nature Reserve in early August. 


A faded Common Blue (Polyommatus icarus), one of four spotted in shorter grass.


A good excuse for yet another Marbled White pic, this male sharing space with a Six-Spot Burnet.


A Meadow Brown (Maniola jurtina), one of twenty+ on the reserve, often in groups of two and three, this one of the few to remain still just long enough to grab a pic. 



Monday, 27 June 2011

Brockadale Nature Reserve (I)



After reading about recent sightings of Marbled Whites at Brockadale Nature Reserve we decided to take advantage of good weather with a follow up to last year's initial visit.  Glimpses of Ringlets, Meadow Browns and whites on from the path was a good start and once on the reserve we counted over 15 Marbled Whites (Melanargia galathea), feeding predominantly on red clover and centaurea.


This one is a female, slightly larger than the male, the underside has a brown tinge as opposed to the black and white markings of the male.


Thursday, 23 June 2011

Five-Spot Burnets and one Meadow Brown


On Kirkstall Hill I found lots more Burnets amongst the grasses and Red Clover. The constant breeze made for tricky pics, but it didn't deter the moths from going about their business. If anybody could help confirm whether these are Five-spot or Narrow Bordered Five-Spot Burnets I'd be very grateful.


On this visit I discovered a caterpillar and about 10 chrysalids, constructed on Buttercup and Ribwort Plantain.




Another first of the year on the hill, heading upwards, amongst the brambles, my first Meadow Brown of the year, not a great pic but enought to confirm my sighting.


The Small Tortoiseshell basked in the early evening sunshine, on a wooden palette.



Monday, 20 June 2011

Large Skippers on Kirkstall Hill


My previous sighting of a solitary Large Skipper on Kirkstall Hill got me thinking that there must be more nearby. With time to explore I was delighted to discover the rest of the colony, approximately twelve in all in a more sheltered spot in a patch predominated with brambles. 


In this picture you can just about make out the hooked antennae, which is a characteristic of Large Skippers.


A view from Kirkstall Hill, looking down over the grassland to the Aire valley beyond. The Church spire of St Stephens, Kirkstall is visible far right.


A view from the bottom margin of the grassland towards the top of Kirkstall Hill. The trees and shrubs on the upper section provide shelter in an otherwise exposed grassland area. The Cricketers flats are just peeking out behind the birch, far left.


Sunday, 19 June 2011

Demoiselle in my garden


Dropping in to the front garden this weekend was this female Banded Demoiselle where it settled on the foliage of a Mexican Orange Blossom for a few minutes. Up until a couple of weeks ago I'd never knowingly seen one, then one turns up right outside my door, luckily Andrea was on hand to mark the occasion with a photo.

Here's another female, this one taken on the banks of the River Aire, next to Kirkstall Abbey. Both have the metallic green body colouring, with a distinctive white pseudo-pterostigma near the tip of the wing.



Thursday, 16 June 2011

Kirkstall Hill sightings


Earlier this evening I discovered Five-Spot Burnet moths (Zygaena trifolii) in the short grasses near the top of Kirkstall Hill. I counted eight in total, dotted around on flower heads of Ribwort Plantain and Red Clover. Its a distinctive day flying moth with metallic looking black forewings coloured with red dots and black clubbed antennae.


The larvae feed on Bird's Foot Trefoils, located nearby. I've yet to develop the knack of spotting butterfly and moth eggs and chrysalis, so I was happy enough with my discovery of a Five-Spot chrysalis, the moth still inside the semi opaque papery yellow casing.


Also on the hill, this well worn Small Tortoiseshell soaking up some early evening rays. Altogether a pretty good bounty for such a brief stroll-io-lio.



Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Kirkstall Creatures in St Stephens churchyard

Back to nearby St Stephen's churchyard in Kirkstall, amongst the headstones settled this Red Admiral, looking like it had seen better days. Despite extensive damage to both its hindwings and forewings it appeared to fly freely. 



Blue Tit fledglings bounced around in the Hawthorns overhead.



A couple of fresh looking Speckled Wood engaged in a series of aerial tussles, the victor returning to pride of place amongst a heap of what looks like Wood Pigeon feathers. 


A Song Thrush settled on the upright of a wooden bench, eyeing me from a distance, by the look of the bench its a popular birdy perch.



Saturday, 11 June 2011

St Stephen's Churchyard, Kirkstall


In the corner of St Stephen's churchyard in Kirkstall, there's a well established patch of Honey garlic (Nectaroscordum siculum ssp bulgaricum), a tall, shade tolerant, perennial whose upright flowerheads open into dainty hanging umbels. 


The plant is a native to the Mediterranean and is related to the Allium family. Its nectar rich flowers are much loved by bees, which was apparent as I watched twenty or so working their way around this patch.




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