Friday 25 July 2008

Large Tortoiseshell - Round II

Round II of the Large Tortoiseshell started some time after Round I ended.

Were we beaten? We were not.

Were we confident? We were not.
Were we slightly mad? We were!

First up in our stalking was the first of 4 Weasels!

This one was clambering through drystone walls looking for stuff.

This grotty male Lulworth Skipper wasn't quite as distinctive as the females with their crescents on their fore-wings.

Just one of the many Marbled Whites that inhabited this meadow.

Common Blue - and you may judge from the last three species that I wasn't really looking for the Large Tort in the right habitat (on account of it being seen only on bramble bushes...).

Grass Vetchling - always good to find (cos I can identify it!).

Starting to look in the bramble bushes this Digger Wasp spp provided a short but welcome interlude.

After several hours of searching, it was becoming apparent that the Large Tortoiseshell was playing hard to get - if it was here at all! In a bid to widen the search area I ventured in to nearby gardens to check Buddleia bushes and then along the entrance track to the Country Park - all to no avail.

And then, as I wandered aimlessly like a cloud along the road, I suddenly heard some lunatic shouting my name, "Baldie, Baldie!". "Come now, I've got it. Jump through the hedge!".

I jumped through the hedge to find Zebidee and the Bearded One gawping at point blank range at some bramble blossom - and sure enough, the Large Tortoiseshell was sat up on the blossom feeding away in the sunshine.

Large Tortoiseshell - 2 days, 700+ miles and 13 hours of searching!

Worth it? Of course!

It was a hairy little monster.

My 65th butterfly species in the UK.

With the target under the belt it was time to depart the site - sad really as we'd spent so long their it was beginning to feel like home.

Next up was the Hooded Merganser at Weymouth. In active body moult, it started off well as it immediately swam away from me. Showing the new white feather tracks, this wary 1st summer male was doing its best to get on to The Bearded One's UK life list.

Then it swam over to a little girlie who was lobbing bread to the other ducks in a bid to see if they were wild. Our little merganser took bread and even feathers off the water surface.

As a final test we played a little classical music to see what it would do. This little chap rose up out of the water and started conducting. Was this bird wild? Was it b*****ery!

With things going from excellent to appalling we decided to head to Portland Bill and look for Wall Lizards in the quarries. With some excellent directions from Mr A Teapot of Essex and some dreadful directions from Paul Lambourne (who clearly tried to send us off in the wrong direction) we located several of these wee quitters. This well-marked male being a little easier than the females.

Female Wall Lizard - the note big legs (if you want to).

This lizard had lost its tail in an encounter with something - we called it 'Stumpy', but it didn't seem to mind.

And finally, Common Restharrow - and then a 175 mile drive home!

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