I was again lucky to be travelling home from work via Aston Rowant and this time I met up with Mike Foley on the reserve who was hoping to photograph the Silver-spotted Skippers I saw last week. By the time I caught up with him he'd already seen Chalkhill Blue, Silver-spotted Skipper and Brown Argus, a species I'd hoped for but hadn't seen on my previous visit. As I emerged from the tree lined path down from the car park I spotted 2 Small Heath, something I thought I'd seen last week but upon searching around I couldn't find again to photograph. This time I took the opportunity when it presented itself and managed a few shots before it disappeared across the hillside.
MALE SMALL HEATH
I decided to search for the Brown Argus having not seen one before and I soon came across a worn example of a male (not shown). Whilst I searched for a better specimen I anaged to photograph a few of the species I saw last week.
ABOVE SILVER-SPOTTED SKIPPER, BELOW MALE CHALKHILL BLUE
ABOVE MALE COMMON BLUE BELOW WELL WORN FEMALE COMMON BLUE
I finally managed to find several Brown Argus flying hurredly between the plants and only occasionally alighting to feed. The female is distinguished from the male by its larger form, more rounded wings and bolder orange markings that reach the wingtip.
ABOVE FEMALE BROWN ARGUS BELOW AND BOTTOM MALE BROWN ARGUS
Although the the weather was similar to last weeks visit there didn't seem to be as many butterflies around until the sun made an appearance from behind the clouds. It was during one such appearnce I came across 2 Small Copper a butterfly I'd only previously seen at my visit to Bishop Middleham Quarry.
ABOVE AND BELOW SMALL COPPER
The last species I managed to photograph and another first for me was the Essex Skipper. I'd read that they could be seen on the reserve but hadn't found one on my first visit and it wasn't until I was almost ready to leave that I found what at first I thought was a Small Skipper. The two species are very difficult to distinguish unless viewed through binoculars or a camera as the antennae of the Essex Skipper has a black tip.
ABOVE ESSEX SKIPPER BELOW NOTE THE BLACK TIP OF THE ANTENNAE
All in all another great visit to the reserve with a total of 4 new species and a grand total of 10 species across the 2 visits and I'm sure there is more to be seen through out the year.