I haven't had much chance to increase my Butterfly list that I started last year so when I knew I was working in Thatcham I couldn't resist in calling in at Bowdown Woods where 2 of my target species the Silver-washed Fritillary and White Admiral are currently flying. Unfortunately things conspired against me and after a phone call from the office I had to cut short my visit without seeing either. I came across a small glade where I saw most of the species which included an unusual marked Green-veined White (below) and thanks to Andy on the UK Butterfly forum for helping with its ID.
Some luck was with me and I stopped to watch 2 Green Woodpeckers as finished my walk along the Bomb Site path I noticed an Oak Tree and knowing there are Purple Hairstreak reported I took a good look finding one high up and just within my lens range, though the quality wasn't to good with shooting into the sunlight.
Male Common Blue
Female Common Blue
Other butterflies included Peackock and Gatekeeper
Aston Rowant NNR is a great place for butterflies with 35 species recorded on the site and 20 recorded the day before my vist. The sun wasn't out and there was a slight wind so hopes of seeing a high species count on my visit were not very high but with at least 10 on show I don't think I did to bad.
Male Chalkhill Blue
Female Chalkhill Blue
Female Common Blue
Brown Argus There were several species of Blue flying and along with Skippers I find them very difficult to identify until I get home and trawl through my photos. Chalkhill Blue were flying in large numbers and with it being the middle of their flying season and Aston Rowants chalk fields its main habbitat it wasn't a supprise.
The Small Heath was both a difficult species to find and photograph with only 2 subjects seen on my visit and both deep in the grasses. Other species onsite but not photographed were Large Skipper and Meadow Brown
For the second year running (as far as I know) a pair of Black Redstarts have successfully bred in Preston town centre. I was unable to locate them last year on several visits but an hour spent there tonight brought signs of a juvenile and though I didn't see the adults the male could be heard calling and both were seen later in the evening along with a second juvenile. Thanks goes out to Zac Hinchcliffe for putting out the information that they were back, check his blog for photos of the adult birds.
I spent 3 hours in the sunshine wandering around the reserve with Howard Prescot looking mainly for the White-letter and Purple Hairstreaks that are seen in small numbers at this time of year. Though the sun was out there was no sign of them on this visit but there were many other species flying across the reserve.
Meadow Brown Including the above there were also Peacock, Gatekeeper and Speckled Wood also Small and Large Skipper have been reported recently. With the variety of flowering plants across the reserve is wasn't a supprise to see a great number of bumble bees including the 2 shown below.
Buff-tailed Bumblebee Dragonflies and Damselflies were around in numbers including 6+ Brown Hawkers as well as those shown below.
Female Empreror Dragonfly oviposting
I believe the bottom photograph is of a newly emerged Common Darter as the wings are much more transparent. Whilst I was looking for the White-letter Hairstreak I came across this Common Toad amongst the undergrowth and quite a way from any of the pools.
I called in at Brampton Woods with the hope of catching one of the UK's rarest butterflies the Black Hairstreak. There are 5 known sites in the woods where they can be seen but its at the end of their short flying season so hopes weren't high. The weather didn't help either, it was warm but cloudy with a slight wind not ideal conditions so I wasn't disapointed when I didn't see one maybe next year.
There are plenty of other species to be seen with Ringlet being the main one flying low in the long grass and flowers rarely landing. The bottom photograph shows a very worn specmen which amazingly was still able to fly.
There were 3 species of Skipper, Essex Large and Small. They can be distinguished by their antenae with the Essex having a black tip and the Small having an orange tip.
Only one Brown Argus could be found on my visit and no other small blues seemed to be present but this may be due to the weather.
Other species included Gatekeeper, Meadow Brown, Red Admiral, Speckled Wood and Green-veined White also reported at the site are White and and Purple Hairstreak.