Wednesday, 16 April 2014

A tale of hunting a Swallow

Holly Blue, Celastrina argiolus
Late Monday night I checked the latest posts from UK Butterfly forum before closing the computer. To my astonishment a beautiful photo of a European Swallowtail had been posted, with a story about the butterfly being seen at BC Hampshire’s nature reserve near Winchester. The Swallowtail was in excellent condition and is likely an emergence from last year’s immigrants which are known to have laid eggs in Sussex. 
 I emerged early yesterday and arrived at Magdalen Hill Down at 8:45am. A few other enthusiasts arrived during the morning, including Marc, Pauline and Neil Hulme. We toured the whole site with Reserves Officer Jayne Chapman but saw no sign of the Swallowtail. We concluded it had flown elsewhere the previous day. I saw my first Holly Blue of the year, plus a keen eyed Neil spotted a Brimstone egg laying. Magdalen Hill Down is a spectacular reserve, the upper slopes being covered in cowslips. Good management ensures that nesting skylarks are not disturbed in an area bounded by an electric fence.
  Neil and I then visited another BC Hampshire reserve, Noar Hill where we met False Apollo from UKB forum who posted the Swallowtail photo. I found five Duke of Burgundies. This species has not yet emerged in Sussex.
Brimstone egg, Gonepteryx rhamni
Cowslip, Primula veris
Magdalen Hill Down

view from Magdalen Hill Down

Orange-tip, Anthocharis cardamines
Noar Hill:
Duke of Burgundy, Hamearis lucina

this Duke started twitching its head side to side, usually a prelude to flying, but it stayed put

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