Thursday, 17 August 2017

Mid-August at Castle Hill LNR, Newhaven

Week 20 of the Castle Hill LNR butterfly survey season

Rampion off-shore windfarm in progress - as seen from the Castle Hill LNR clifftop
Seed-spangled orb web
I did my transect walk on Sunday in better weather conditions than I've had recently. We're at week 20 of 28 already. I've added below a list of what I saw. Most of the flowers are now past their peak, but there is still a mass of late-summer colour. The willowherb was casting immeasurable numbers of seeds into the air and all the spider webs were spangled with them.
There were 25 species of butterfly and moth and a total of 438 individuals, which I thought was pretty good considering the time of year. I was particularly pleased to see 27 Small Heaths; it has never been a common butterfly at Castle Hill LNR and has significantly declined in the UK over the past few decades, mainly because of the loss of habitat as grazing land has been 'improved' for livestock. It is a butterfly that likes fine grasses on dry soils and Castle Hill offers some good potential habitat, particularly along the clifftops.  Annual totals since 2011 have been 3, 7, 12, 23,31 and 37, so to have seen 27 in one day, mostly along the clifftop, is great news. It has been having a good year generally and I have been counting up to 80 on some days in a meadow near The Rookery at Bishopstone.

Small Whites were seen in good numbers; it was strange to have seen 60 and not a single Large or Green-veined White to go along with them - I wonder what the odds are of that?! Clouded Yellows are beginning to make an appearance and Holly Blue numbers were good along the northern path.
Volucella pellucens - the Pied Hoverfly
Amongst the other stuff seen were quite a few Volucella hoverflies. V. zonaria and pellucens are among the most spectacular of the 7000 species of British fly. A female Wheatear was seen on the clifftop, indicating that the autumn migration is upon us. Another year if flying by!

Butterflies (13 species)

Small White
Pieris rapae
60
Clouded Yellow
Colias croceus
4
Speckled Wood
Pararge aegeria
29
Small Heath
Coenonympha pamphilus
27
Meadow Brown
Maniola jurtina
129
Gatekeeper
Pyronia tithonus
19
Red Admiral
Vanessa atalanta
3
Painted Lady
Vanessa cardui
4
Peacock
Inachis io
1
Small Tortoiseshell
Aglais urticae
1
Comma
Polygonia c-album
1
Holly Blue
Celastrina argiolus
6
Common Blue
Polyommatus icarus
127
Moths (12 species)

Bordered Carl
Coptotriche marginea
3 (mines)
Common Nettle-tap
Anthophila fabriciana
2
Ox-tongue Conch
Cochylis molliculana
1
Common Marble
Celypha lacunana
1
Grey Gorse Piercer
Cydia ulicetana
6
Six-spot Burnet
Zygaena filipendulae
1
Straw-barred Pearl
Pyrausta despicata
3
Small Purple & Gold
Pyrausta aurata
1
Common Purple & Gold
Pyrausta purpuralis
2
Rush Veneer
Nomophila noctuella
1
Straw Grass-veneer
Agriphila straminella
2
Silver Y
Autographa gamma
4
Other stuff

Common/Viviparous Lizard
Lacerta vivipara
2
Kestrel
Falco tinnunculus
1
Sparrowhawk
Accipiter nisus
1
Wheatear (female)
Oenanthe oenanthe
1
Southern Hawker
Aeshna cyanea
1
Pied Hoverfly
Volucella pellucens
1
Hornet Hoverfly
Volucella zonaria
4





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