04 May, 2009

Skippers and Hairstreaks on OWH

The plan today was to visit a relative in Hampshire, but as the weather was absolutely perfect, we decided to take a small detour to Old Winchester Hill- best nature reserve in the world ;). The last time I visited Old Winchester Hill, a White throated Sparrow was resident in the hedgerows by the carpark, but has now vanished into the English countryside somewhere... he did seem a bit out of place in the South Downs though didn't he?!

Another little guy that looked a bit out of place on the hill was this very colourful Goldfinch, which was chattering away in the car park...

As the temperature must have been getting close to 25C and the sun wouldn't stop shining, I was hoping to encounter some of the sites scarcer butterfly species that will be on the wing. The first butterfly to show itself was a Small Heath, although not a first for me it was still a nice surprise.

No longer had I taken my eye of the Heath, a tiny green thing floated past me. At first I thought it was a leaf, but when it landed, I knew exactly what it was; a beautiful GREEN HAIRSTREAK!

This had to be the most entertaining butterfly I've come across, as after a few seconds of perching, it would then clumsily lopside as if it were drunk!
Moving on up the steep slope and as I looked back to take in the view... which was stunning ;)- I noticed, out the corner of my eye, a little moth like creature fly onto a dandelion. 'No', 'it couldn't be', 'oh my God it is!', 'no it's not', 'yes it is!!'- were just some of the thoughts going through my head at the time. This moth like creature was a DINGY FLIPPIN' SKIPPER... I mean Dingy Skipper, Dingy Flippin' Skipper is extinct in Britain ;).
The way to distinguish a Skipper from a moth is to look at the antennae; if it is looped at the end it's a butterfly but if it isn't then it's a moth...
A pair of Bullfinches flew past as we neared the fort. After chatting to the very friendly site warden, we noticed we were a bit late leaving, so we had to swap the leisurely pace we had been walking at and replace it with a jog. Of course, I couldn't miss a getting a shot of a yellow Yellowhammer in a tree...
Or a leaf like Brimstone on a leaf...
Suddenly, mum flushed another almost microscopic insect and as I was about to turn away thinking it was just a flying beetle, I noticed it had the pattern of a Grizzled Skipper. It landed and there in front of me was a GRIZZLED SKIPPER!!!!! It was almost impossible trying to pinpoint, as it was so small...
And a close up showing those 'grizzled' markings on the wings...

7 comments:

Lynmiranda said...

You had a very, very lucky day today! Lucky in seeing and getting good pictures of rare Skippers but also lucky in having brilliant sunshine as most of us had a chilly day due to cloud cover.

The Early Birder said...

Good visit to the 'Hill'. Thanks for showing the Green Hairstreak - I haven't caught up with one yet this year.

P.S. I'm going to do a short post on 'young bloggers' very soon, so hope you don't mind if I include Bill's Birding?

Have a good week. Cheers Frank

GRAMPS said...

Brilliant as usual Billy. Excellent photographs of wonderful creatures - love the text snippets as well as the 'photos. Like the way you are now signing your work. Well done all round.

Billy said...

Lynmiranda- Thanks, unlucky about the weather. It was too sunny where I was!

Frank- Thanks, the G hairstreak is a beautiful butterfly. I'd be happy for you to include my blog in the post, hope it goes ok!

Gramps- Thanks again Grandpa. Every photographer has to sign their own work ;)

Matt Latham said...

Fantastic day out with three butterflies I hope to see very soon.

Mark Fellowes said...

Hi Billy

Excellent macro work - your green hairstreak is superb!

Mark

Billy said...

Matt- Thanks for the comments and also for joining the blog!

Mark- Thanks, I'm starting to get into macro photography