Monday, January 19, 2009

Hairstreaking in the Brede Valley

On Saturday, at the invitation of Butterfly Conservation's Rother Woods project, we went looking for brown hairstreak butterfly (Thecla betulae) eggs in the Lower Brede Valley, East Sussex.  The species has been occasionally recorded in this area in the past and it may simply have been overlooked as it is a difficult butterfly to find as an adult.

Neil Hulme from Butterfly Conservation (Sussex) joined the group and brought an egg on a blackthorn twig so that we all knew what to look for (see picture below).  The egg came from West Sussex and was scheduled to be returned, on its twig, after our field meeting.

20090117 Neal Hulme at Stonelink 010

20090117 Stonelink 004

The eggs are usually laid in the fork of a blackthorn twig as above and look like small, hemispherical pearls.  They remain in situ until the leaves come in spring and, once seen, are fairly easy to find if they are present at all.  There are one or two eggs of moths that can be laid in this position, but they are not of this shape.

We had a good walk round the hedges at Stonelink but did not find any eggs (early days yet) though we did see some impressive wild boar rootings and found a strong colony of the rather scarce hard shield-fern.

20090117 Stonelink 017

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