Monday, 24 October 2011

Grafton Wood Brown Hairstreaks PT2

After the previous weeks trip to Grafton wood , i just had to go back to see the beautiful Brown Hairstreaks again,  the weather forecast was for a very warm sunny day , perfect!
I  knew where to look this time,  so made my way down towards the orchard area, the blackthorn hedgerows on the main path before the old orchard are where i saw them last time.
It was a bit early and still quite cloudy as i walked the main path and there was no sign of any butterflies,so  i continued around and into the orchard to see if there were any migrant hawker dragonflies perched up, i saw quite a few in this area the previous week but could not get any shots.  this time there was no sign of any, after walking around all the apple trees i suddenly spotted a brown hairstreak flying across the open ground!  i quickly followed and she settled under one of the apple trees,  i just managed to shoot 4 frames quickly before she took flight,  i managed to keep her in sight untill she landed in the hedge surrounding the area  before she flew over the hedge!     Wonderful!

 The sun was now breaking through the cloud,  a Brimstone gonepteryx rhamni  few past me and landed to feed on a thistle flower, as i got close i noticed there was carder bee also feeding!

As it was now getting very sunny , i made my way back to the main hedge hoping the hairstreaks would make an appearance,   as soon as i got there i spotted 2 females working along the hedge and soon noticed that they where both laying eggs,  here is a shot of one high up in the hedge.

You can see a small piece missing from the wing where she has been crawling into the blackthorn to lay her eggs on the main stems, usually near a fork in the branch on one or two year old stems.

I followed her over to the hedge, just to the right of the water trough and actually watched her lay an egg on a blackthorn stem only about eight inches off the ground!

Here is the egg, shot at x5 magnification with canon mpe-65 macro lens, it is focus stacked to increase depth of field.  the eggs are approx  0.7 mm diameter!

and a cropped shot of above , isn't the structure amazing?

I then spotted a third female in the same area a few minutes later ,  that was the fourth sighting of the day!

Having shot the brown hairstreaks i decided to make my way into the wood to see if any thing else to shoot,  i soon found a beautiful Red Admiral,  vanessa atalanta

And a few dark bush crickets

I  walked around to the southern edge of the wood and found along the bridleway a few common darter dragonflies perching on the barbed wire fence, shooting from a low angle managed to keep a nice blue sky in the framing!

Then i saw another brown hairstreak and managed a few shots before she flew off, light was very bright but it does show a lot of textures on the wings!

Walking back towards the woods and back down the main path through the woods , i then found a very old looking male brown hairstreak feeding on angelica,  at appeared to have very few scales left on the wings!

and finally a large white pieris brassicae

in total, i saw nine brown hairstreaks this day, which is exceptional!    and i was extremely lucky, the following day i had intended to go back and meet Gill , but there was a bad holdup on the motorway and could not get there,  as it turned out not a single hairstreak was seen that day even though conditions were perfect!     someone did say i must have seen everyone else's share on my trip !  lol



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