Thursday, July 12, 2012

Doings in Fermyn Woods

I'd like to be able to report that there was a substantial emergence of Apatura iris in Fermyn Woods today, but there wasn't.  Despite warm, bright conditions until 4pm I saw only 4 males, less than yesterday (and numerous other people there saw less than that).  

Only one of those had definitely emerged today, but the poor thing had fallen from his pupa case whilst expanding his wings on a tall shady sallow 2/3rds of the way down Cherry Lap in Fermyn Wood proper, and despite being promptly rescued by someone of Purple Pursuasion may not be able to fly. 

I am particularly grateful to the chap who spotted the pupal case, as pupae / pupal cases are excessively hard to come by in the wild (for me, n = 6 now) - and apologies for not asking his name so he could be properly lauded on this website.  Please come forward sir, and be lauded!  (I was in a hurry to spend 3 hrs 15 mins on a journey that should take 2 hrs 30 tops...)

The pupal case was 5m up on the underside mid rib of a large leaf of a leaf cluster, on a ca 8m tall female tree of the hybrid sallow Salix x reichardtii (with leaf characteristics leaning towards S. caprea).  The larva must have been feeding at least at that elevation, as the lower branches had been trimmed back during the winter. 

Liz is absolutely right, there is a distinct paucity of Brother Quercus, the Purple Hairstreak, at present (though I saw a nice evening skibble near Dragons Green in mid W Sussex on the 6th).  I looked for the evening flight yesterday in Fermyn and saw none.  I and others also failed to find White-letters out in Fermyn again today.  And Liz is also right in saying that iris doesn't get going properly until Brother Quercus is coming out nicely.  This may just be an old fashioned 'late' iris season - I hope so, as the alternative is horrendous...

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