Cumbrian Discoveries pt2

With day one a great success for day two we headed across the River Kent estuary to Arnside Knott.  On the very southern edge of Cumbria the Knott is a 500ft high limestone hill with commanding views.  I had been given recommendations on two areas to search for High Brown Fritillary and Northern Brown Argus on the lower slopes, so we headed there first.  No Frits in the first spot and no Argus in the Primrose Field, which was very parched, plenty of commoner species though.  Time to head to the summit.

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July 2018, a Grayling on Arnside Knott nectaring on wild marjoram

Despite the day being lovely and sunny a mist hung in the distance obscuring the views of the mountains to the north.  Last year this place was covered in flowers, now it was brown.  Patches of flowers were growing in the sheltered spots and one large marjoram was proving very popular with insects.  The Grayling (Hipparchia semele) in the above photograph is rarely seen nectaring, they usually sit, camouflaged, on stony paths.

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Nice to see you, a Northern Brown Argus

Whilst crouched down in the vegetation photographing the Grayling a very small butterfly zipped by, it was the Northern Brown Argus! (Aricia artaxerxes).  Amazing, when you are not looking for something it turns up.  This butterfly differs from it’s southern relative (featured a few posts back) by having indistinct spotting on the underwing, they also only have one brood per year.  I must have caught them at the end of their flight period as they were quite faded, in all we saw six.

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The colours might be faded but this Argus still looks sprightly!
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A common butterfly but the colours of this fresh Small Tortoiseshell make for a lovely image

Didn’t get to see any High Brown Fritillaries but there were a few commoner Dark Greens, all females looking to lay eggs.  Also saw  a very early Scotch Argus, possibly the first of the year, but it would not settle, can’t win them all.

On day three would you believe it rained!  The first for many weeks.  So we acted like tourists and drove up to see the famouse lakes of Windermere and Coniston.  Beautiful scenery and if I was any good at landscape photography a paradise, but I’m not, so you will have to use your imaginations, ha ha.  In the afternoon the skies cleared and we visited Tina’s friends who live nearby.

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My final discovery, a Beautiful Demoiselle

We went for a walk in the parklands of the Holker Estate taking their three sheep dogs along.  When the youngest ran off toward a ditch I followed and made another discovery, my very first sighting of a Beautiful Demoiselle (Calopeteryx virgo).  What a fitting end to a short but welcome holiday.

For more images of Butterflies in Cumbria on my HOME page click on this link.  https://blhphotoblog.wordpress.com/portfolio/butterflies-in-cumbria/

Cumbrian Discoveries pt1

At last a weeks holiday!  A return visit to Southern Cumbria.  This year we are picking up our daughter Victoria (the Norfolk Lemming) from Manchester Uni a few weeks later, so I hope to see and photograph some new species.  Beautiful weather and on day one we went to Latterbarrow nature reserve.  This is a narrow site on a hill near Witherslack, the vegetation was parched dry due to the very hot summer with few flowers.

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High Brown Fritillary at Latterbarrow

Tina spotted a Fritillary whilst I was searching for Northern Brown Argus.  To our great delight it was a High Brown Fritillary (Argynnis adippe) one of the UK’s rarest and most threatened species.  Once widespread in woodlands across Britain it can now only be found on a few limestone hills around the Morecambe Bay,  and at a couple of sites on Exmoor.  The population has crashed by over 90% since 1970!

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New species number two, a Black Darter

Absolutely elated.  I noticed a small dragonfly, eventually it settled on a swaying grass head and I reeled off a few shots.  It was a Black Darter (Sympetrum danae).  I have never seen one before.  In Norfolk they only occur at two sites in the west of the County.

Then a really pretty moth, a Mint Moth (Pyrausta aurata)

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Mint Moth
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Slightly worn but still beautiful, the High Brown Fritillary

Day one a great success!  I have updated the portfolio on my HOME page https://blhphotoblog.wordpress.com/portfolio/butterflies-in-cumbria/