Monday, 30 May 2011

Small Copper in the Churchyard of St John the Baptist, Adel

During this weekend's variable weather we made the most of periodic sunshine and dropped in to the churchyard of St John the Baptist, Adel to see what was around.

Amidst the grassland, in sunny intervals, we were delighted by five or six Small Copper (Lycaena phlaes). Showing their bright copper coloured forewings, this pair headed towards us from the centre of the grassland to settle arms length away and feed from a buttercup. The churchyard contains patches of other foodplants, Hawkweed, Daisy, Dandelion, and Common Sorrel the larval foodplant of the butterfly.  

A Robin settled on a gravestone, accompanied in the churchyard by Blackbird, Wren, Goldfinch, Dunnock, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Chaffinch, Crow and Magpie.

A common moth Silver Ground Carpet (Xanthorhoe montanata) settled in the grass.

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Fairburn Ings

Our first damselflies of the year appeared in numbers at Fairburn Ings RSPB. This pair of Large Red Damselfly (Pyrrhosoma nymphula), an early and widespread species, settled on the roughly painted edge of the boardwalk while a dozen zipped around a bank of vegetation adjoining the stream. It provided a good opportunity to dust off my copy of the 'Field Guide to the Dragonflies and Damselflies of Great Britain and Ireland, S Brooks', where I read that the adults live on average between five and seven days, so they're unlikely to be around on my return.

Throughout our wander we heard the call of a male Cuckoo, settled just far enough away to remain out of view. At one point a blue butterfly, more Common Blue than Holly Blue darted past, the only exception to four or five Whites, the number of butterflies limited as a result of blustery winds. 

In the hedgerow surrounding the car park, we noticed hundreds of these tent making caterpillars, Spindle Ermine Moth perhaps?

We parked ourselves down by the pond for a few minutes to enjoy the view, surrounded by an abundance of fresh and vibrant, vertical green reeds, lit up by the afternoon sun. 

Friday, 13 May 2011

Hosta leaf

The large ribbed leaves of a variegated hosta, potted up in my back garden seem to retain raindrops more effectively than the surrounding plants. Undeterred by the failing light I snapped away to catch the quartet of glistening raindrops before they disappeared.

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Urban nature - Kingfisher over Leeds City Station

Standing on platform 3 at Leeds City Station waiting for the Harrogate train, I spotted a small, short tailed, long billed bird fly from the direction of the River Aire, way above the station platforms and power lines towards the Leeds Liverpool Canal. As it crossed overhead I caught the flash of blue and recognised a Kingfisher. My previous encounter with a Kingfisher viewed from the Whitehall Road Bridge in autumn was, or so I thought, likely to be the closest proximity to the city centre but this one is going to be hard to beat.

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Lawnswood Cemetery, Leeds

Strolling through Lawnswood Cemetery, I stood beneath the canopies of a row of Copper Beech and was drawn to the vibrancy of colour present in the spring leaves, more than equal to the saturated warmth of their autumn foliage. High levels of anthocyanin mask the green color of the chlorophyll and are responsible for making the leaves appear as a copper or purple color. Here their colour is further enhanced by early evening sun.  

We continued down the path and disturbed a Red Admiral butterfly, a few metres away from the location of our previous sighting a week or two ago. As it took to the wing, I stood still to watch it loop around and return to the exact same spot at the edge of a headstone. The striking butterfly with its orange banded forewings stood out against the contrasting stone and shadow.

Monday, 2 May 2011

Breary Marsh

Up at Breary Marsh earlier today, Bluebells, Ferns and Greater Stitchwort were all in fine display, enjoying patches of intermittent sunlight prior to the thickening of the canopy.  We heard Warblers, Bullfinch, Chaffinch Robin and Blackbird in the trees, and saw Tufted Duck, Canada Geese, Moorhen and Grebe on Paul's Pond.

Greater Stitchwort appeared in patches around edges of the woodland.  Less abundant than those posted by Phil Gates (Cabinet of Curiosities) but equally eye catching.

Speckled Woods and Large Whites were the butterflies of the day. Although present in comparatively smaller numbers the former proved far more obliging than the latter.

Sunday, 1 May 2011

Bolton Percy Station - Holly Blue

A trip out to one of Yorkshire Wildlife Trust's smaller reserves - Bolton Percy Station, near Tadcaster provided further Holly Blue (Celastrina argiolus) sightings and this year's first glimpse of a Small Copper.  

Male Holly Blue (Bolton Percy)Female Holly Blue (Adel)

The Holly Blue that we saw at Adel churchyard was a female (see the black border to the upperside forewing in the pic above right), by the lack of a black border on the upperwing of this one (above left) I'd say its a male. 

Also at Bolton Percy Station, our first Small Copper sighting of the year.

A Green Veined White (Pieris napi)

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