Posts Tagged ‘Gatekeeper’

Found in Southern and Eastern Britain, its recent range expansion has been linked to increasing temperatures.

Bookham Common is a National Trust site in north Surrey that I have been meaning to visit for sometime. Firstly because it is one of the nearest sites to central London to have a number of special butterfly species (Purple Emperor; White Admiral; Brown Hairstreak and Brown Argus) but also because of its easy accessibility having a train station adjacent to the common. So I took the opportunity to visit today. In all honesty it was probably 2-3 weeks too late for the best of the butterflies but I thought it would be worth a look around.

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The morning was bright and cool as I arrived at the common, which is a mixture of pasture meadow and woodland with a series of pools in the middle. The temperature and the increasing cloud cover during the morning made for a lack of activity but I did see 6 species of butterfly, the most numerous being speckled Wood and Gatekeeper.

Gatekeeper

Gatekeeper

Speckled Wood

Speckled Wood

Of the special species my best chance was always going to be Brown Hairstreak as this is still on the wing well into August and I did see one confirmed female and two possible males but all were fly-by views and so I didn’t get to see the characteristic markings on the male to confirm identity.

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Photo by Mike Darlow from UK (brown hairstreak Uploaded by Amada44) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

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female showing characteristic orange bars in wing
Photo by Aah-Yeah (Flickr: Brown Hairstreak Nierenfleck Zipfelfalter) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

On and around the ponds there were a large number of Common Blue damselflies; some Common Darters; blue -tailed damselflies; an Emperor dragonfly and a Ruddy Darter.

Common darter

Common darter

Common Darter

Common Darter

Common Blue Damselfly

Common Blue Damselfly

It is certainly an interesting site and I will certainly be planning a return visit in July next yea to look for the other special species.

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I decided to make a diversion on the way back home from the town centre and have a look around the gardens of Eltham Palace. This can be a very good place for insects in the summer months despite its busyness as a tourist attraction.

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There were plenty of Gatekeepers on the grass meadow along with a few meadow Browns and a couple of small white butterflies. A dragonfly flew by (either Southern or Migrant Hawker) but I was not able to see it well enough to confirm its identity

Gatekeeper

Gatekeeper

Meadow Brown

Meadow Brown

In the flower margins I found a Mint Moth and a large Buff-tailed Bumblebee (might well be a Queen judging by size and amount of buff in tail).

Mint Moth

Mint Moth

Buff-tailed bumblebee

Buff-tailed bumblebee

I finished my walk by the moat, where there are some lily pads to see if there where any damselflies present. It was a surprise to find half a dozen Red-eyed damselflies, which I have not recorded her before. Later closer examination of photos showed that these were in fact Small Red-eyed damselfly, which makes this the 3rd site in Greenwich borough I have recorded for this species.

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Small Red-eyed Damselfly

Small Red-eyed Damselfly

This species is a recent newcomer to the UK being first recorded in SE England in 1999. It has now spread and is found from Devon in the west, through the midlands and up as far as Yorkshire in the north. However in recent years its spread has slowed down and it does not seem to be spreading much beyond this region.

An excellent hours diversion which just shows that you dont have to travel far to observe interesting wildlife.

Heysham nature reserve in Lancashire is a small piece of land bounded by the Sea, the port of Heysham and Heysham power station. It consists of two linked pieces of grassland and is very good for invertebrates.

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There were a large number of butterflies, unfortunately all of of common species. We did not see any Grayling, a speciality of the reserve.

Speckled wood

Speckled wood

Gatekeeper

Gatekeeper

I also found this moth basking in the sun.

Shaded Broad-Bar Moth

Shaded Broad-Bar Moth

At the pool in the western section we got some excellent views of both Emperor dragonfly and Brown Hawker laying eggs.

Emperor Dragonfly

Emperor Dragonfly

Brown Hawker

Brown Hawker

A number of common birds were also present but I did get ths picture of a Goldfinch, looking very smart in his multicolour plumage

Goldfinch

Goldfinch

Common Kestrel [sp] (Falco tinnunculus)
Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)
European Herring Gull [sp] (Larus argentatus)
Lesser Black-backed Gull [sp] (Larus fuscus)
Common Swift [sp] (Apus apus)
Great Tit [sp] (Parus major)
Eurasian Blue Tit [sp] (Cyanistes caeruleus)
Barn Swallow [sp] (Hirundo rustica)
Common Blackbird [sp] (Turdus merula)
Common Chaffinch [sp] (Fringilla coelebs)
European Greenfinch [sp] (Carduelis chloris)
European Goldfinch [sp] (Carduelis carduelis)
Common Linnet [sp] (Carduelis cannabina)

Small White (Artogeia rapae)
Meadow Brown (Maniola jurtina)
Gatekeeper (Pyronia tithonus)
Speckled Wood [sp] (Pararge aegeria)
Large Skipper [sp] (Ochlodes venatus)

Banded Demoiselle (Calopteryx splendens)
Blue-tailed Damselfly (Ischnura elegans)
Common Blue Damselfly (Enallagma cyathigerum)
Brown Hawker (Aeshna grandis)
Emperor Dragonfly (Anax imperator)
Common Darter (Sympetrum striolatum)

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The Gatekeeper (also sometimes known as the Hedge Brown) is commonly found in England and Wales, but is absent from Scotland. It is usually found, as its alternative name suggests, around the field and meadow margins and hedges. This may account for the name gatekeeper as it would have been frequently observed at the entrances to fields and meadows. The adult feeds on Bramble, Thistle and Privet amongst other plants. It is usually seen on the wing in July and August.

Following a morning appointment I returned home via Sutcliffe Park LNR.

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As I arrived the clouds began to close in and although it was quite warm and muggy, a strong wind had begun to blow. Thsi was to be a bad sign as there was very little activity from Butterflies and I didnt see one Dragonfly during my visit, I had hoped to get some pictures but only managed to photograph this rather worn looking Gatekeeper.

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Canada Goose [sp] (Branta canadensis)
Mallard [sp] (Anas platyrhynchos)
Common Moorhen [sp] (Gallinula chloropus)
Eurasian Coot [sp] (Fulica atra)
Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)
Lesser Black-backed Gull [sp] (Larus fuscus)
Common Pigeon [sp] (Columba livia)
Common Wood Pigeon [sp] (Columba palumbus)
Rose-ringed Parakeet [sp] (Psittacula krameri)
Eurasian Magpie [sp] (Pica pica)
Carrion Crow [sp] (Corvus corone)
Great Tit [sp] (Parus major)
Common Starling [sp] (Sturnus vulgaris)
Common Blackbird [sp] (Turdus merula)

Large White (Pieris brassicae)
Small White (Artogeia rapae)
Common Blue (Polyommatus icarus)
Meadow Brown (Maniola jurtina)
Gatekeeper (Pyronia tithonus)

A walk around the Tarn this afternoon as I hadn’t done a butterfly count there for over a week and I wanted to get one more done before the Big Butterfly Count ends on Sunday.

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The butterfly list was short with mostly Small Whites plus a couple of Large Whites and a single Gatekeeper. There was no sign of the patrolling Emperor Dragonfly although there were a few Blue-tailed and Azure Damselflies.

Gatekeeper Butterfly

Gatekeeper Butterfly

Azure Damselfly

Azure Damselfly

However Birds were to top the bill on this visit. As I returned to the entrance I saw a bird fly away across the lake towards the area of the sluice gate and immediately located it that area – A Grey Wagtail (my second in two days). This is the first record for this year of a species that is seen annually on the Tarn most commonly during the Autumn.

Our resident Amphibian on his usual sunning perch

Our resident Amphibian on his usual sunning perch

Canada Goose [sp] (Branta canadensis)
Muscovy Duck (Cairina moschata)
Mallard [sp] (Anas platyrhynchos)
Common Moorhen [sp] (Gallinula chloropus)
Eurasian Coot [sp] (Fulica atra)
Lesser Black-backed Gull [sp] (Larus fuscus)
Common Pigeon [sp] (Columba livia)
Common Wood Pigeon [sp] (Columba palumbus)
Rose-ringed Parakeet [sp] (Psittacula krameri)
Eurasian Magpie [sp] (Pica pica)
Carrion Crow [sp] (Corvus corone)
Grey Wagtail [sp] (Motacilla cinerea)

Large White (Pieris brassicae)
Small White (Artogeia rapae)
Gatekeeper (Pyronia tithonus)

Blue-tailed Damselfly (Ischnura elegans)
Azure Damselfly (Coenagrion puella)

After a morning working at home I went for a walk around Eltham Palace Gardens.

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Although the palace itself was very busy the more remote corners of the gardens are largely unvisited and so was a good place to do today’s butterfly count. There were large numbers of Gatekeepers and Meadow Browns plus Holly Blue, Large and Small White.

Gatekeeper

Gatekeeper

Meadow Brown
Meadow Brown
Photo by Tim Ebbs (http://www.flickr.com/photos/ebbsphotography/)

An Emperor Dragonfly was also present and it was great to see the Bees busily at work on the plants

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