Sunday, 8 July 2018

in search of the small pearl-bordered fritillary

This was Tuesday the 26th June and I was really looking forward to it: another ranger led foray into the Pentlands to survey the Small pearl-bordered fritillary, with Victor the ranger. Unfortunately it was following hot on the heels of the night before when I was dashing across the Pentlands in wet swim wear and I was still a little tired from that. I hadn't gone on the same survey 6 days before as the weather had been overcast then, and the forecast better for this outing. There had been good numbers of butterflies then, so I was anticipating similar for this. There were 4 or 5 of us arrived at Red Moss car park. I had left myself only an hour to do the cycle and although I managed it in 58 minutes it left me a bit ragged.

First up and we went back down the road a bit away from the hills, to look at a couple of sites North East of Red Moss. A dead sp-bf was all we found in the first area but in the second was a more lively version and it was busy on top of a thistle-head which allowed me to take photos. Victor had noted that they had emerged early this year and the ones he found the week before, like the ones we found today, were somewhat aged and worn. This one had a wonky left forewing. But, like all of the fritillaries, was still very pretty. I had been admiring many in online posts from down south and was surprised with the ease of finding them here with such little fuss or messing about. (I've spent a fair bit of time around here and never set eyes on one.)

After checking out those 2 venues we went halfway round the raised boardwalk to the small pond there. Then back further off the boards and climbed a fence, walking more than half a mile round the back of the West side of Threipmuir Reservoir. I had no sense of where we were (other than in a grassy field out the back of Red Moss) until I saw the gps output much later. As I said I don't think I was in best form. I also found one of the company of volunteers a bit hard going. I did my best to ignore him.

2 large red damselflies at the pond

on the walk across the field at the back we stirred up about 40 specimens

This youngster was not stirred. After taking a couple of photos we crept away causing as little disturbance as possible before the parents returned.

there were several cinnabar moths

and common blue damselflies

the butterflies I saw were much like this one, past their freshest best,
however it was a good indication of a thriving colony to count so many


When we got back to the car park I felt I wanted to check out the first 2 venues again. Not just for Small pearl-bordereds, but because it is such a great place to have a wander and admire the surroundings. I came upon 2 further sp-b frits; one, our friend with the wonky wing, and another which I got a few good photos with, but then blew the best shot of the day - wings up, on top of a thistle - when the camera refused to focus. I wandered about for another hour seeing 3 hares close by, and a lizard that scuttled off into the heather before I had the chance to raise the camera. Despite extensive searching no further reptiles were forthcoming. Lots of ringlets and meadow browns and bees on the thistles. And generally much MUCH better than sanding skirting boards so I can't complain. Next year I must make an effort to get out first or second week of June to catch them freshly emerged. They are a special butterfly and quite rare in this part of the country, though more widespread in the West and North of Scotland. Numbers perhaps declining in parts of England. Thanks to Victor again for leading us to the right spots.

No comments:

Post a Comment