Sunday, 11 August 2013

Beckley Wood Butterfly Event

Well the day threatened to be overcast as we assembled at our meeting point in Beckley Woods, near Rye, in East Sussex. We got off to a good start with beautiful fresh Peacocks (Aglais io)  and majestic Silver-washed Fritillaries (Argynnis paphianectaring on the hemp-agrimony (Eupatorium cannabinum) adjacent to our assembly point. It was not long until the first Large White (Pieris brassicae) and Small White (Pieris rapae butterflies were seen too.
Peacock Butterfly
Beckley Wood is not conducive to walking a circuit so we walked out along the rides from our central base and back again. However the location mattered little as there were butterflies in abundance. We soon had Gatekeeper (Pyronia tithonus) , Small Skipper (Thymelicus sylvestris) and Painted Lady (Vanessia cardui) to add to our observed species list.
Painted lady
Meadow Browns (Maniola jurtina), Ringlets (Aphantopus hyperantus) and a Small Tortoiseshell (Aglais urticae) were then observed followed by a Clouded Yellow (Colias croceus). I missed the Clouded Yellow on the first occasion as I had remained back by the cars in case of late arrivals.
Clouded Yellow
As with most other woodland this week the numbers of Peacocks were very high. Easily over fifty were seen, and almost ubiquitously where nectar sources were available. What pleased me greatly was the same could almost be said for the Silver-washed Fritillaries. A male Silver-washed Fritillary with a damaged wing followed me down the ride like a pet dog.
Silver-washed Fritillary
On the second leg out from base camp I finally got to see the Clouded Yellow, my first this year. A Common Blue (Polyommatus icarus) was then spotted by Richard. Along a section of ride-way that was cleared by Steve Wheatley and his volunteer party four years ago we saw another good crop of Peacocks and a veritable host of Green-veined Whites (Pieris napi).
Green-veined White
 However the zenith of the walk was a White Admiral (Limenitis camilla) sunning itself on a plant stem. It was totally unperturbed by our presence and posed for many pictures. Stuart managed to get a picture with his phone, and this was tweeted with in seconds to his butterfly fan base in Massachusetts in the United States of America; technology hey.
White Admiral
I was particularly pleased to see so many butterflies in Beckley Wood as this marks the fruition of the monumental conservation effort by Butterfly Conservation in this woodland four years ago.
Small Skipper
Another cheerful aspect to this walk was the large number of Bumblebees seen and migrant Hawker Dragonflies (Aeshna mixta) are having a bumper year too.
Migrant Hawker
So many thanks to Stuart Cooper for leading the walk, the Forestry Commission for allowing us parking access and to Georgina, Richard, Ed, Rod, Heather and Doug who participated in this walk. A special thanks also to Doug Neve who took the photographs for our use and who remained behind after the walk was over to record some of the species we did not see earlier, namely Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta), Comma (Polygonia c-album) and Speckled Wood (Pararge aegeria).

All photographs courtesy of Doug Neve 11/08/2013

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