On the 20th May the lockdown had eased slightly, allowing us to go out more than once a day, I had my first trip away from home yesterday to Alner’s Gorse the Butterfly Conservation reserve near Kings Stag. I was hoping that it would be quiet and I was not disappointed there was a couple of cars and I only met two people, lots of space to hide away!
My main aim was to look for Marsh Fritillaries as their season as Butterflies would soon be over at Alner’s Gorse, they are a threatened species and the conservation priority is High. I knew where I had to go for a good chance of seeing them and headed that way first. They are a small Butterfly and you have to keep your eyes peeled for them. It wasn’t too long before I spotted the first one on Knapweed flowers enjoying the warm spring sunshine. I also spotted one on a Ragged Robin plant. I enjoyed spending sometime just watching them and taking a few photographs.
As I sat down in the meadow I saw and heard much more, a Fox came by out of the trees, a large Dog Fox, he didn’t see me straight away so I had time to watch him but then he spotted me and was gone. I also heard a Cuckoo in the same meadow, I enjoyed staying there for a while with all the birds singing and the lovely Butterflies.
As I left the meadow I just spotted a couple of Orchids in the coarse grass, I wasn’t sure what they were and with some help I’m pretty sure they are Marsh Orchids it’s sometimes difficult to tell as quite often they ceross pollinate with other species.
Going back form the meadow I spotted the colourful caterpillar below on a Nettle leaf again I didn’t know what it was so after putting it in the Butterflies UK Facebook group they soon came back with an identification, a Lackey Moth caterpillar it was in the right habitat as it feeds on Broadleafed shrubs including Hawthorn.
Back to the grassland area I didn’t see too many Butterflies about, couple more Marsh Fritillaries and some small Blues which didn’t stop around for identification and some Large Skippers. I met a man on his way to do Butterfly recording and he told me where a Nightingale might be on my way back and sure enough it was there although, I didn’t see it I could hear it, a real treat.
Another insect I spotted was some very tiny Grasshopper Nymphs, less than 1cm long so quite difficult to spot. I understand they go through several moults before becoming an adult.
Just before you go up the slope to the Car Park there is a small pond and I stopped for a while as there were Damselflies around it. I noticed a lovely Azure Blue Damsel on a Dock Leaf and then a male and female mating. I had a lovely morning in near isolation, I didn’t think I would get to see the Marsh Fritillaries this year and I was so pleased that I could make it due to the government relaxing the restrictions.