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Monday 31 August 2015

Butterflies of the Surrey Hills; Chalk Hill Blue, Adonis Blue, Meadow Brown, Small Heath, Treble-bar Moth, Drinker Moth?, Hornet and bees at Ranmore.

The steep, south-facing chalk hills at Ranmore were fabulous for insects, especially butterflies and moths yesterday.  

Scores of Chalk Hill Blues were flying around.
Near the middle of the photo' above is a tiny, vivid blue speck:
an Azure Blue, a little battered and missing areas of scales from its wings yet stunningly blue none the less.
Meadow Browns were present in significant numbers; a female above and a male below.

Smaller and more orange than the Meadow Browns were some Small Heaths, above.

This might be a Treble-bar Moth, Aplocera plagiata, whose caterpillars feed on St John's Wort, which food plant was in flower still.

Is this a Drinker Moth?  Any ideas anyone?

Common Carder bees were common still.
And this looks like a male Red-tailed bumblebee.

A Hornet seemed to be scraping wood from this dead stem to expand its nest cells.
There is such a variety of insect and plant life on this hillside, which being steep is a good opportunity for some vigorous exercise too!

Saturday 29 August 2015

Native orchid, Autumn Lady's-tresses, Spiranthes spiralis, flowering now on unimproved grasslands on the Downs and sympathetic churchyards.

The UK's native orchid, Autumn Lady's-tresses, Spiranthes spiralis, is flowering now on unimproved grasslands on the Downs and in sympathetically managed churchyards like this one in East Sussex.
 Resembling plaited hair, the leaves have withered before the flower spike appears.
 The flowers are tiny and easily overlooked; yet are exquisite to anyone enjoying the amazing beauty and diversity of our native flora.
An orchid fan is opera tenor, Francois Piolino on a rest day from singing in Ravel's Double bill at Glyndebourne this week.  He was pleased to see and photograph this delightful flower for the first time.
See also

Thursday 13 August 2015

Four Bumblebee species in a Cuckfield garden today; Common carder bee, Bombus pascuorum, Bombus campestris, the Field cuckoo bee, Anthophora furcata, and Buff-tailed bumblebees.

Feeding on lavender in Cuckfield, West Sussex, England today was a Common carder bee, Bombus pascuorum.  Its nests are made above-ground in tall, but open grassland, under hedges and piles of plant litter; ref; bwars.
This is a good reason for "untidy" bee-friendly natural areas of our gardens.

An enemy of the Common carder bee is the Cuckoo bee below, which lays its eggs inside Carder bee nests which are then fed by the host workers.
 Feeding on "Lambs'ears" is purely for its own development and not for its own offspring.
This looks like Bombus campestris, the Field cuckoo bee.


 Above & below looks like an Anthophora furcata female, Its nest burrows and cells are excavated in rotten wood; another reason to leave rotting wood around in our gardens.
More info' at
 Click on any picture to expand them.
The fourth bee was Buff-tailed bumblebee, which I didn't bother to photograph as it is so common this year.
A "wild garden" is an endless source of fascination for nature lovers like me.
And a rich source of material for my nature talks. See

Wednesday 12 August 2015

Four bee species in my garden in Cuckfield, West Sussex yesterday

 Lavender is a great plant to attract bees.  Above looks like a Colletes sp. solitary bee.

 Red-tailed bumblebee.
Buff-tailed bumblebee
Honeybee, Apis mellifera.

What a joy to see these insects.

Please do let me know if any species on this blog are misidentified.  It is a steep learning curve for me!

Sunday 2 August 2015

Beautiful butterflies in the Surrey Hills; Silver-washed fritillaries, Commas, Gatekeepers, Holly blues, Common blues, Brown argus, Peacocks, Brimstones, Whites, etc..

 This glade is managed by the Surrey Wildlife Trust. Yesterday the Nettle-leaved bellflowers were glorious.  Click on any picture to expand it.

 The Marjoram flowers were enjoyed by a host of butterflies -- a Peacock and Gatekeepers,
a Comma, Meadow brown and Gatekeeper.
 Silver-washed fritillaries.
 There are two Silver-washed fritillaries above -- one showing the underwing.
 Holly blue.
 Meadow brown with Psithyrus vestalis, a Cuckoo bee.
 A Comma.
 Large White.
 Common blue.
 Essex Skipper.
 Marbled white.
Green-veined white.
This is a great time of year to walk the hills and meadows of Surrey and enjoy the plethora insects and flowers.
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