Brown Hairstreak. Photo: Gerry Traves
Gerry and Lyn are members of the Ringwood Natural History Society: the group were shown round our Alners Gorse Butterfly Reserve by our Reserves Manager, Nigel Spring, on 27/07/2017. They write that they enjoyed the morning very much, and sent us the full list of butterfly and other species they recorded on the visit, which you can see here.
Marsh Fritillary web. Photo: Lynda Lambert
Devil’s-bit Scabious. Photo: Lynda Lambert
Lynda found this web and two others at Alners Gorse on 13/08/2017, at the base of some Devil’s-bit Scabious, which is the foodplant for the Marsh Fritillary caterpillars.
Sunshine is a prerequisite for the health of the species at the caterpillar stage which explains why some years numbers are better than others even when the site is managed with this fritillary in mind as well as for other species.
Devil’s-bit Scabious is a pretty perennial plant which grows quickly to a height of approximately one metre, flowering from June until October. It is a good source of nectar and is visited by many types of insects as well as butterflies. Wild Honeysuckle and Small Scabious are also plants used by the Mrsh Fritillary caterpillars, but Devil’s-bit Scabious seems to be the preferred plant in the UK.
Silver-washed Fritillary. Valezina. Photo: Elaine Conlon
Elaine saw this worn Valezina form of the Silver-washed Fritillary at Alners Gorse on 10/08/2017
They are a different form of the female Silver-washed Fritillary and at one time were only found in the south of England. In recent years they appear to be spreading further north, but whether by natural expansion or by deliberate release of captive- bred butterflies is unclear.
Peacock. Photo: Elaine Conlon
Elaine photographed this brightly coloured Peacock at Alners Gorse on 10/08/2017
It’s vibrant colour and perfect condition suggest it is freshly emerged .
Although beautiful to us, the bright eye-spots act as a warning to predators.
Very Worn Silver-washed Fritillary. Photo: Elaine Conlon
Elaine took this photograph on 10/08/2017 at Alners Gorse.
Although sad to see such beautiful butterflies reduced to this ragged appearance, it does show how very little wing a butterfly needs to be able to fly.
We have four Butterfly Reserves in Dorset, all of which have their attractions, but Alners gathers the most attention at this time of year because of its Hairstreaks. A guided walk there on 5 August, led by Martin Warren,drew 30 people, and was described as “superb” despite showers.
Brown Hairstreak. Photo:
Brown Hairstreak. Photo: James Gould
James photographed these butterflies at Alners Gorse on 05/08/2017 and says:
A Brown Hairstreak photographed at Alner,s Gorse last week has had a narrow escape. It is a good example of the hairstreak survival strategy at work, ‘the false head illusion’, as described by Adrian Hoskins (Butterflies of the World): ‘A variation of the decoy theme is employed by Hairstreak butterflies. Distinctive patterns of bright stripes direct the eyes of birds towards a target area on their hindwings i.e. eye-marks and antenna-like tails (big photo). The ‘false head’ fools the bird into aiming at the rear of the butterfly (smaller photo).
Silver-washed Fritillary. Photo: James Gould
James photographed these at the end of July at Alners Gorse and says
I followed this courting couple of Silver-washed Fritillary for 15 minutes as they chased each other, occasionally settling in the grass or on the ground. Eventually they lost interest and flew off in different directions. Even though the specimens are looking a little worn and faded, the photo gives a good comparison of male and female Silver-washed Fritillary. The male (below) being a brighter orange colour with four bold sex brands along the veins of the forewings
Brimstone. Photo: Mark Pike
Mark has been to Alners Gorse again, and found this lovely fresh Brimstone. 26/07/2017.