Tuesday, 11 December 2018

June-July: the sun has got its hat on

Summertime lived up to all of the hype and billing. The sun shone, the rain stayed away and the temperature soared. It was a good time to trawl the countryside for plants, butterflies and moths. Instead of remembering to pack the waterproofs it was sunscreen and water that you needed to make sure that you had onboard.

The garden MV is at its most productive at this time of year, and in line with previous summers a number of new species for the site appeared, most notable of which were Great Oak Beauty, Kent Black Arches, The Mocha (above) and Oak Processionary. Moth numbers, although not at levels that were enjoyed 20-30 years ago, seemed to be a bit higher than those of the past few years. Another lepidopteran highlight occurred at the end of July, when a single Silver-washed Fritillary alighted a back garden buddleia (below) - the first recorded here and indicative of a number of species that were wandering from their breeding sites in the hot weather. It was also a good summer to find Purple Emperors, my own meetings with this most charismatic of butterflies taking place in Banstead Wood and Juniper Bottom.

I was successful in seeing a couple of species of flower that had, so far in my botanical ramblings, eluded me. First up was Wild Liquorice, where a healthy number of plants were present on a bare chalky slope above Brockham Quarry (below). And then my search for White Horehound was successfully completed on the Sussex chalk at Arundel Park (bottom). I was also delighted to track down two local/rare species of Bedstraw close to home - Slender (on Colley Hill) and Wall (in a car park at Merstham).

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