Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Old Crick-in-the-Neck

Rod Taylor very kindly sent me these pictures of a female Purple Hairstreak that he saw in Long Wood.

Windy weather, or even a low growing oak tree can mean that these butterflies will descend from the tree tops.

The female in the picture above is laying her eggs right at the base of the oak leaf.

(Pictures Rod Taylor: 03/08/2012)

Well it is that time of the year again. The evening sunshine kisses the tree tops and the world is embraced in golden light. The out doors beckons, and irresistibly drawn, I am as a moth, and Barnes Wood is 125 Watt Mercury Vapour bulb.

A walk in the late evening will hopefully yield a special butterfly, the Purple Hairstreak (Favonius quercus).

Purple Hairstreak:- Butterfly Conservation

As their scientific name would suggest, the key to finding Purple Hairstreaks are oak trees. There is a spot in Barnes Wood where I always see them, on south west facing oaks that catch a good amount of evening sun.

This evening I wasn’t disappointed, though I was out a little later than the ideal time of about 18:30.

Spotting them requires a little patience as it can take a while to see the first one or two. However once you do observe them, they are worth the wait. Often you will get a burst of four or five butterflies, a gaggle of males chasing a female as she flits out of the oak tree, then returns back in again.

They are very much an arboreal species, so it takes quite a bit of looking up until you find them.

From ground level they appear silvery as they catch the sun. The ones in Barnes Wood seem to favour four or five trees in a group and a burst from one tree can be quickly followed by a burst from another.

They spend most of the day resting and feeding on honeydew, but become very active in the evening when they mate.

Like the Green Hairstreak (Callophrys rubi) these butterflies are probably under recorded as they will often be found anywhere that oak trees are established.

Finally a crescent moon reveals the sun in the west.

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