Saturday, 3 July 2021

In Search of Lulworth

Yesterday evening I went for a walk at Cogden. Out along the coast path, back along the beach. As it was July 2nd I expected nothing in the way of birds, so 10 Med Gulls W (including a flock of 8) was nice, also 2 Sanderling W along the water-line, landing briefly and distantly. Almost all the Meds looked like scruffy 1st-summers, but I was just pleased to see a few nice birds. It was so quiet. Hardly any song now of course; all the vegetation in full, lush summer growth; calm, grey sea; calm, grey sky. Atmospheric...

Before the birding gets hectic again, I have a small mission. Lulworth Skipper. It's a butterfly I've never knowingly seen, and one which apparently is available very close by. I have a rough idea where, but not exactly. And I don't know if any are out yet. However, I know that its food plant is Tor-grass, so I learned how to identify Tor-grass, and then went hunting. This was late Thursday afternoon. Hot and sultry. Long trousers to minimise tick trouble, so there was much perspiration. A few pics...

Tor-grass. At least, I really hope so! And like everywhere else, Pyramidal Orchids all over the place!

I rarely bother with those micro moths that roll themselves up into tiny tubes, but this was so striking I couldn't resist. It appears to be a Thistle Ermine. Appropriately.

One beaten-up Painted Lady. It had no problem flying though, and at one stage was involved in a dog fight with a large, orange butterfly, which it chased off. Of course, that may have been a Comma, but my gut told me it might have been a fritillary. Which was a bit unkind of it.

Close, but no cigar. Small Skipper. One or two of these.

Ditto. The rather lovely Large Skipper. Several of these.

I think this is a Dark Bush Cricket.

Marbled Whites are gorgeous, and very photogenic. A few of these.

I rather like this habitat shot

And this, I think, is Speckled Bush Cricket.

So, no Lulworth Skippers this time. I will try again when the weather looks promising. If I've got the identification correct there is certainly a lot of Tor-grass where I was searching, so I think I'm in the right area. I suppose I could make enquiries in order to confirm, and maybe ask for pointers to aid my search, but to be honest I would rather do the whole thing on my own. Any success will be all the sweeter for it. And if there isn't any success, well, there's always next year, and begging for help.

11 comments:

  1. I think I'd probably go with Bog Bush-cricket rather than Dark BC for your top gropperish thing. It's not really cheating, but here's the BSBI distribution map for Tor-grass, just so you know whether or not it (and therefore - potentially - the skipper) is in a tetrad near you :) https://bsbi.org/maps?taxonid=2cd4p9h.qqt

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    1. Thanks for the map link Seth. Yes, loads of Tor-grass in the relevant square.

      The area where I photographed the cricket is not remotely boggy. I assumed Dark Bush Cricket based on stubby little wings and the fact that it's common. Following Tim's comment below I've come to the conclusion that crickets are tricky.

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    2. Sheesh I'm rusty on bush-cricket ID. The one in queston looks like a young male, I didn't even realise green was an option for male Grey BCs. Though it does actually look more like a Grey than a Bog. And if it was a dry site... Yeah, go with Tim's ID! There aren't any bush-crickets up here, in fact it's been probably over 5 years since I last clapped eyes on one. Hmmm, a sobering thought that.

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  2. Great to see you're branching out though the whole insect thing is definitely addictive - every spring I wander off-piste and spend a few months barely seeing a bird before autumn migration eventually drags me back again. Agree with Bog Bush-cricket and the last green one is a Great Green BC - a nymph still so wings still just buds. Good luck with the Lulworths.

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  3. Sorry, meant to say Grey rather than Bog, a little early in the morning is my best excuse.

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    1. Thanks for your help Tim, much appreciated. Every year I seem to learn a tiny bit more about non-birdy things. Some of it even sticks. I do wish I had started many years ago, but I think that part of the attraction has been my relatively recent ability to photograph these creatures. Rather than having to catch them, I can take an image home to peruse at leisure. Limiting I know, but manageable.

      Still, it'll be back to mostly birds soon. 😊

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  4. No problem Gav. A digital camera with macro settings got me into it about 15 years ago. Using much better equipment now but I still only take photos. Nothing against collecting specimens, I just don't think I have the time and it's surprising how much can be identified from a series of good close ups.

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    1. Sometimes I'm pleasantly surprised by the quality of photo I can get with the P900, but your insect shots are in a different league Tim. 👍

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    2. You're too kind - I take a lot, get some good ones!

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  5. Lulworth Skippers are probably easier to find feeding on Vipers Bugloss, Thyme or Knapweed - they're not the most exciting butterfly to be fair

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    1. Thanks for the tip Dave. Ha ha, yes, I'm not expecting fireworks! 😄

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