Thursday, 12 January 2017

Winter Pursuits

Winter is a quiet time for the amateur entomologist but it is a good time of year to search for eggs of the Brown Hairstreak (Thecla betulae). The adult butterfly can be rather elusive during its flight season but if you know where to look, its eggs can be much easier to find. This species is a late season emergent and it is the eggs that see out the winter months on blackthorn, its foodplant. The eggs are usually laid singly (but sometimes two or three in a group), generally in the fork of a branch, near where the current and previous year's growth meet.
Brown Hairstreak (Thecla betulae) (ova on blackthorn)

When the winter sun is shining, then for me, there is no better place to go for a walk than on Ashdown Forest. I met up with Bob on Wednesday for a walk around one of our regular routes. I had never seen a Great Grey Shrike (Lanius excubitor) before, a scarce but regular winter visitor to UK shores. Whilst I could have seen one long before now, I just don't possess the "twitcher" gene and I have always been happy to wait for the moment when I would come across one when out for a walk. Well, that thrill happened for me yesterday when Bob spotted one sitting on top of a gorse bush. I managed to record the moment with this rather long distance shot.
Great Grey Shrike (Lanius excubitor)  


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