Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Yellow Legged/Scarce tortoiseshell!!!

Today, I had a day off and given the forecast I thought it'd be a good day for hoverflies...(and butterflies)
With news of the yellow legged/scarce tortoiseshell access having been arranged in Norwich this morning, I thought that would be a good place to start!

I arrived in warm but cloudy weather at the 'car park'. After an hour and a half a call for purple hairstreak went from one person to the rest of his group, having seen one before a little while previous to the call, I didn't bother going over. A few minutes later the YL tortoiseshell was found basking on the same oak tree, thank god for the hairstreaks! The butterfly was watched in good light for about half an hour, but it was quite high up in the oak so photos were hard, however binocular and for the sensible ones scope views were excellent (and greatly appreciated, thanks Dick!). Although the photos don't do it justice, the butterfly was clearly larger than its smaller relative and as can be seen the markings differed as they should. The closest black spot was divided in two, the hindwing was orange rather than dark, the underwing was dark with an outer pale panel and the legs were clearly yellow!
After the half hour of watching, it took to flight and disappeared (and still has not returned yet), after being told all the time that it was on the tree that we would all see it really well and very close on the buddlia  in a few mins (by those who manage the site) it was a little disappointing not to have seen it at eye level and close. Still, a second for the UK (at the time it was found) is certainly something id rather see at a bit of distance than not at all!

The first was found in ?1953 in Kent so its been a bit of a wait for the second! To add a little controversy to the record a funeral a couple of miles from the site last wednesday released some butterflies! As far as Ive been told they were Camberwell Beauty's and Plain Tigers, but it would be good to know the full species list just to be on the safe side! The positive news is that they have invaded the near continent in the past week or so, Holland I believe as well as other countries. This coupled with the fact that there was also one at Minsmere, Burgh Castle and a couple of other places on the east coast over the past couple of days certainly adds weight to the fact that this butterfly is not from the funeral release. It did however seem to be in pretty good condition with little wear noticed on the wings, the only wear was on the thorax, which was de-haired in the central region, I suspect closer views may have given away a more warn image possibly.
What a cracker and quite an unexpected twitch! 


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