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Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Hills and Holes - on 3rd June, 2017

I'll open by apologising to those people who left comments on my previous post, which I was tardy in publishing, and even more tardy in replying to. I've been away for a week in The New Forest, where the only reliable internet connection available was by use of my phone and away from the cottage that we were staying in. After first attempts at using this to publish comments went awry (my finger hit 'delete' instead of 'publish' on the small screen), I decided on minimal attempts to use this medium. All comments have now been published and replied to.

As one of the many volunteers at Rutland Water, there are a number of events specially arranged for our interest. I have found the Butterfly Walks, arranged by our excellent Volunteer Coordinator, Sarah Proud, to be particularly rewarding. For this occasion, Sarah had arranged a visit to the Hills and Holes nature reserve, by Barnack. Sarah had also arranged for ecologist Oliver Grice-Jackson to accompany us to help with plant identification.

Hills and Holes is famous for its orchids and butterflies. Our visit was too early in the year for Chalkhill Blue butterfly, but there were other butterfly possibilities.

Once gathered together, the first thing to come in front of the camera was a female Common Blue butterfly. This was one of the rather blue variants (most are mainly brown on the upper surface of the wings). 

Common Blue (Polyommatus icarus) (female) - Hills and Holes
 Sarah pointed out a pair of mating Dock Bugs. I've never found these mating before.

Dock Bug (Coreus marginatus) (pair mating) - Hills and Holes
Our first orchid was Fragrant Orchid.

Fragrant Orchid (Gymnadenia conopsea) - Hills and Holes
Hills and Holes is also famous for its Pasque Flowers - now deemed a very rare plant in UK. These were nearly all finished by the time of our visit, but we did find a flower or two. However, the seed-heads after the flower finishes are also very attractive, as shown in the second image below.

Pasque Flower (Pulsatilla vulgaris) - Hills and Holes
There were a few sightings of Speckled Wood butterfly.

Speckled Wood (Parage aegeria) - Hills and Holes
There were plenty of the day-flying Common Heath moth flying around.

Common Heath (Ematurga atomaria)  - Hills and Holes
A male Common Blue butterfly was photographed with its wings closed, to show the underside.

Common Blue (Polyommatus icarus) (male) - Hills and Holes
We were then back with the orchids, It seems that we were a little too early in the season to see the Pyramidal Orchid in all its glory, and I'm not sure if the Man Orchids were past their best, or if we were a bit early!

Pyramidal Orchid (Anacamptis pyramidalis) - Hills and Holes
Man Orchid (Orchis anthropophora) - Hills and Holes
An exciting find was a relatively early Brown Argus butterfly.

Brown Argus (Aricia agestis) - Hills and Holes
We also found an obliging Small Heath butterfly (there were a few around).

Small Heath (Coenonympha pamphilus) - Hills and Holes
I have saved to last what, for me, was the best part of the visit. Relatively early on in the visit, some dragonflies were spotted. I was not able to identify them there and then, but I knew they were different to what I am used to. There were three of them, and it turned out that they were Scarce Chasers. This is a species that I have never seen before. 

At the first sighting, I concentrated on one individual. This turned out to be an immature male - the abdomen and eyes of males soon become a fine blue colour.

Scarce Chaser (Libellula fulva) (immature male) - Hills and holes
After the walk was over, I headed back to where the Scarce Chasers had been. There were now only two, one of which stayed up in the treetops. The one that came down closer, however, was a female.

Scarce Chaser (Libellula fulva) (female) - Hills and holes
For those wondering what the differences are between the two which signify which sex they are, it's largely down to the shape of the appendages at the end of the abdomen, and the well-defined dark smudges at the wingtips of the female (these are either absent or very faint in the male). 

With the dragonflies giving me my biggest excitement of the visit, this had been a splendid event, and I thank Sarah and Oliver for the arrangements and their guidance.

I'm not sure what my next post will be about, but I have an idea!

Thank you for dropping by.


  1. Gorgeous spring photos, Richard!
    You don't have to apologise about comments: many of us are away in summer and it is difficult to blog when abroad sometimes.
    When I am in Spain, although I have a (weak) connection to the web, I have no time; hardly to load my pics in my computer and try to rest a few hours before getting up at 4 in the morning!
    Your butterflies are superb but the dragons even better and this Pulsatilla flower a delight, I still have to see one.
    Libellula fulva has become quite rarity in my area, a pity.
    Keep well and enjoy whatever your plans are :)

    1. Four in the morning - I didn't know there was such a time, Noushka!

      The Scarce Chaser seems to be spreading northwards in UK. It's probably climate change at work - our gain is someone else's loss. In the end, we'll all lose out.

      Thank you for your kind words. Take good care, and keep showing us your wonderful images - - - Richard

  2. Particularly like the Scarce Chaser photos. Very nice indeed Richard.

    1. Thank you Marc. I've not seen Scarce Chaser since, but had planned to visit the location tomorrow to see if any were still around. The weather forecast, however, has put paid to that idea. One day we'll get a still and sunny day up here - I just hope it's this summer!

      Best wishes - - - Richard

  3. Excellent selection of butterflies, plants and of course the Dock Bugs, beautiful Richard.

    1. Thank you, Bob. Those Dock Bugs are rather cute. I don't know if they emit a foul-smelling liquid like shield bugs do, but I'm not about to check out that idea!

      Best wishes - - - Richard

  4. Well shot and what an exciting day. The fly on the Man Orchid looks like a Saw Fly but not one I recognise.

    1. Thank you, Adrian. I think that the fly is probably Scorpion Fly (Panorpa communis) which is very common in these parts.

      Best wishes - - - Richard

  5. Interesting observations, and just wonderful pictures! Greetings

    1. Thank you, Anne for your very kind words. With best wishes - - Richard

  6. Hi Richard and a larger variety of species then on our last visit, wonderful images of Butterflies, Orchids and Dragons. In particular the Common Heath is a real stunner. All the best and we will meet up soon, weather permitting that is. John

    1. Thank you, John. Just looked at the forecast for tomorrow, and it looks like we're going to be out of luck - again! Will talk to you soon - - - Richard

  7. Obviously a great day out, Richard. Your dragonfly knowledge is impressive and so are the pictures. It seems as though Scarce Chaser lives up to its name! Our love to you both, David

    1. It was a splendid day, David, and those Scarce Chasers were the icing on the cake. I'm still very much a novice when it comes to the dragonflies - but I've got some good reference books!

      my love to you and Miriam - - Richard

  8. Second time I write this comment as the last one just disappeared! Looks like you had a fabulous day out. So many of the butterflies here are the same species as we get around Charente. I have still not managed to get near any dragonflies. Time just disappears and I am struggling to keep up with my own blogs at present. Hope that all is well with you. Take care Diane

    1. Hi Diane. It seems that I'm suffering from the same problem as you. I've just noticed that a comment I wrote for your blog a few weeks ago never appeared!

      Many species of butterfly can be found all over Europe, but there are also many that are relatively localised. Sorry to hear that you've not found any dragonflies to photograph. I've also found that blogging can consume a lot of time - and I only do a post about once a week on average!

      Take good care, and don't overdo things - there's a big wide world out there. With my very best wishes - - - Richard

  9. Hi Richard,
    I have obviously missed this post !!!!!
    Here too are beautiful pictures of little butterflies and the beautiful bird-skating dragonfly. Photo 5 is very nice to see and very beautiful as well.

    Best regards, Helma

    1. Thank you for those kind words, Helma. It's very easy to miss blog posts as I know from my own expperience. I have to be careful not to spend too much time looking at blogger!

      With my very best wishes - - - Richard


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