Friday, 29 January 2016

A Couple of Greek Graylings.

There are several species of Grayling in Greece and the Greek Islands.Two species that I have come across on the Island of Lefkada are the Balkan and the Woodland Grayling.The former is rather common in the South Balkan Peninsula,European Turkey,and many of the Greek Islands.It likes dry and rocky grassland,scrub and small woodland.
The Woodland Grayling on the other hand has an extensive range from the shores of Western France to the Black Sea.However it is not common in most of its range and is evaluated as 'Near Threatened'.This species prefers warm light woodland, scrubby clearings and woodland rides usually at low altitudes.

Balkan Grayling

Woodland Grayling

Woodland Grayling

Saturday, 16 January 2016

First Trip to Greece.

My first ever visit to Greece was thirty years ago this year in 1986.My stay was spent on the Sithonia  peninsula of the Halkidiki region on mainland Greece.The terrain here is rugged and at that time relatively pristine.Two enormous hotels and a golf course dominated this shoreline but just a short walk gave way to a completely rural landscape.I well remember that Nightingales seemed to be everywhere and as it was May they were very vocal.In the meadows the butterflies were numerous with Queen of Spain and Spotted  Fritillaries as well as several species of 'Whites'.Among them were the Eastern Bath White,Eastern Dappled White,and my personal favourite, the Black-veined White.
Superficially the Dappled and the Bath White look the same but there are features which can separate the two.The green mottling on the underside of the Dappled can be said to resemble shadows formed by dappled sunlight through tree leaves and usually has a yellowish appearance to it.There are neat white "keyholes" around the outer-margin of the hindwing, and also of the outer-margin of the forewing but especially towards the wing tip. The underwing  green  of the Eastern Bath White is not so dappled and more of an olive green and less often yellowish.
This can be seen in the following photo of a mating pair of Dappled Whites from '86 and two examples of the Bath White,one from the same date and another seen on Lefkada in 2013.


Wednesday, 13 January 2016

The Queens' Pearls.

The Queen of Spain Fritillary is widespread in continental Europe and most abundant in the southern range.It is a rare migrant in the UK although occasionally a colony is discovered in the counties that border  France and the Low Countries across the English Channel.The most recent seems to be in Sussex where the butterfly was suspected of breeding in 2009.
This fritillary is particularly distinctive with its elegantly curved forewings,which is a unique feature among european fritillaries.So too is the underside which displays a collection of large silver spots or 'pearls' that can glitter and shine when struck by the sun's rays.Hopefully these features can be appreciated from my two photographs taken in 1986.This individual was seen in the Halkidiki region of Greece and although regarded as being common it is the only time that  I have seen this species.


Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Seeing Out the Winter.

In the top corner of a sheltered window frame on the outside of our house is a Large White pupa or chrysalis.It will remain there for up to eight months until the arrival of spring.The chrysalis is secured by a silken pad and girdle, and its colour can depend on its surroundings. Length is 25mm. 

Sunday, 15 November 2015

Top Highlight of 2015.

The past season has thrown up several exciting sightings, such as the close encounter with White-letter Hairstreaks  on an elm in Newport town centre,the joy of seeing the valezina form of the Silver-washed Fritillary in numbers at Porchfield,and finding a colony of Lesser Spotted Fritillaries on the beach on the Greek Island of Thassos. However the best must be the discovery of Glanville Fritillary pupae or chrysalies on the Island back in May.Here the habitat for this fritillary is unique as the continental Glanvilles frequent meadows,riverbanks,and woodland clearings.On the Isle of Wight it is a butterfly of our cliffs and clifftops.Therefore finding a spot to pupate can mean under stones or rocks and this is the place where these chrysalises were found.As normal they use a strand of silk to attach themselves to their chosen stone where it will take up to three weeks to emerge as an imago.

Thursday, 8 October 2015

A Small Copper in the Sun.

Today on a sunny bank along the cliff top at Compton Chine was a Small Copper.She was busily egg laying on a warm afternoon now that the wind of the last few days had abated.Not many butterflies to see however on the landslip apart from a single Large White and a couple of Clouded Yellows.

Monday, 7 September 2015

Adonis on Bonchurch Down.

With  the prospect of several days of settled sunny weather there was no better time to take a walk on Bonchurch Down  to see the Adonis Blue.It seems numbers are less than other years so counts are in tens rather than hundreds. Nevertheless it was a joy to see this most brilliant butterfly on the wing feeding on downland flowers and flying strongly on the Downs' slopes.That is,of course the males as they display those sky blue wings.The females are altogether different with brown wings,although sometimes they show variable amounts of blue.

Friday, 4 September 2015

Blue Sky.

A long overdue visit to Wheelers Bay at Bonchurch yesterday discovered  some late summer colour behind the revetment at the base of the cliffs.Several species of butterfly were feeding on the ample drifts of Red Valerian and other flowering plants. Among them, a single male Adonis Blue splendid in striking sky blue. August and September is the time of the Adonis Blue second emergence of the season on our downland,so this individual is some distance away from his usual habitat on Bonchurch Down.

Tuesday, 1 September 2015

A Large White and a Small Yellow.

This Large White has fallen prey to a Crab Spider.There is just one species of this spider in the UK apparently belonging the genus Misumena. The spider has the ability to change colour from white,to pale green,and yellow.This allows the spider to match its background, as it sits motionless on a flower bloom awaiting a victim which it pounces on and grasps with its crab-like front legs.

Saturday, 22 August 2015

A Magnificent Moth.

Although very common in the UK especially in the south of England,the Oak Eggar is a great sight to see and a  magnificent moth.This female was attracted by our house lights.The male which is slightly darker in colour and smaller is generally a daytime flyer and searches for resting females. The female emerges at dusk and flies at night.