Saturday, 28 May 2011

Wantage Downs

A short but profitable walk down a steep chalk dry valley near Wantage with the local natural history group. Weather overcast and cool for once - long may this continue! One of the first plants at the top of the slope were large thistles, after a little debate these were considered non-typical nodding thistles (Carduus nutans) in bud. For a report on all that the group found please look here.

Carduus nutans,nodding thistle

There were a number of butterflies sheltering from the stiff cool breeze, including in places dozens of male Common Blues (Polyommatus icarus).

Common Blue Butterfly,Polyommatus icarus

Later a brief spell of sunshine quickly caused them to start flying around and showing off their wings.

Common Blue Butterfly,Polyommatus icarus

We saw ten or so Tiger Moths (Arctia caja) sheltering often in rabbit burrows out of the breeze

Tiger Moth,Arctia caja

And also the rarer, and much better camouflaged, Green Hairstreak (Callophrys rubi).

Green Hairstreak,Callophrys rubi

Also sheltering in the clumps of nettles was a distinctive insect, which I can not identify... it may be a wasp or sawfly.

Wasp beetle

The nettles were clearly a magnet to insects. One clump had caterpillars of three different species feeding on it. These are I think peacock butterfly caterpillars munching away.

Peacock catterpillars

A couple of the distinctive Burnet Moths were also seen, this could be the five spotted version (Zygaena lonicerae).

Burnet moth,Zygaena lonicerae

There were some milkworts in flower, I spotted this one which is I think a 'pink' version of the common milkwort (Polygala vulgaris).

Common Milkwort,Polygala vulgaris

Then surely the highlight of the walk, a few isolated plants of the seriously poisonous Henbane (Hyoscyamus niger) in the 'potato' family (Solanum) along with the Nightshades.

Henbane,Hyoscyamus niger

Near one of the henbanes, we saw an Elephant Hawk-moth (Deilephila elpenor).

Henbane,Hyoscyamus niger

Finally on the way back a reminder that the orchid (common spotted?) flowering season is upon us.


1 comment:

Rob said...

Might the suspected wasp beetle be a sawfly? Tenthredo sp. possibly.