The Portland Naturalist

The Portland Naturalist

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Barrow's of Butterflies

A day off work today, so I made the most of it.  Yet another scorcher, and despite my best efforts of suncream usage, the great fireball above still managed to infiltrate my epidermis.  For those English-speakers amongst you, I got burnt.  Nevertheless, it was a fantastic day for butterfly-watching, which is what I spent much of the day doing.

First though I thought I'd pop into the Obs to see the moths.  The trap was certainly heaving, amongst them some brilliant lifers. 

It may not be rare, but this monster below has been my bogie-moth down the years, so great to finally catch up with it.  Definitely the highlight as far as I'm concerned.

Eyed Hawk-moth

By far the rarer moth, though certainly isn't a looker compared with the Eyed, is this Portland Ribbon Wave.

The other lifer was this Crescent Dart.

Some of the other highlights of the trap below.

Male Glow-worm

Synaphe punctalis

 Short-cloaked Moth


Thistle Ermine 

Dark Spectacle 

Large Fruit-tree Tortrix

I then decided to do a little seawatching from the Bill despite the unpromising looking conditions.  An hour or so brought the only highlight of a flock of 19 Common Scoter with an infiltrating Teal.  Also a couple of Mediterranean Gull feeding offshore.  The shot below is quite a contrast to my shot (on Twitter) there from a couple of weeks ago!


Late morning, I went out on a guided butterfly walk at the fantastic King Barrow Quarry - a Dorset Wildlife Trust reserve.  On the face of it, it don't look much like any other quarry on Portland, but that still makes it high in biodiversity! 

A different feature was this tunnel going right through the spoil heap.  It was refreshingly cool in there!

The Lepidoptera was excellent, and included in the list of 12 or so butterfly species was several Silver-studded Blues, a probable Adonis Blue, Dingy Skippers, Marbled Whites, and a Grayling.  The latter a first record for the site.  A few moths were spotted too.  Alongside the expected Burnet moths were sightings of Barred Yellow, Green Carpet, and Crambus perlella.  A new plant for my Portland list was the unobtrusive Parsley-piert.  The scorching weather meant the butterflies were very jumpy, so I only managed this one passable shot.

Large Skipper 

Come the afternoon, I thought I'd check out the adjacent New Ground and Nicodemus's Knob, primarily for plants.  It's not a bad view from up there (and you'll notice, there are now clouds!).

Here I found the first Field Scabious in flower.


And, managed to get to grips with the rare Ivy Broomrape.  I suspect that all the Broomrapes I've seen on the island up to now have been this species, rather than Common!

I also saw two new (UK) species of Wild Madder (below) and Shining Crane's-bill, which I saw in abundance last week in Ireland, where I got to grips with separating it from the similar Herb Robert.

I also found a swarm of these tiny moths, which I believe to be Micropteryx aruncella.

 Pair in cop
A family group of 5 Raven were doing aerobatics in this area too.  On my way home along the West Weares, I saw a Mother Shipton moth, and probably heard one of the juvenile Peregrine screeching from their nest there, but couldn't locate them.
Lets hope for some cooler weather tomorrow!

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