Clouds of butterflies

Clouded Yellow Colias crocea Tophill Low NR, East Yorkshire August 2013

The migrant butterfly, Clouded Yellow Colias croceus, was one of the many highlights of the busy August Bank Holiday weekend at Tophill Low NR, East Yorkshire, with a minimum of eight individuals to be found around the site on Monday. Easily the highest single site day total I’ve seen for many years in the UK, and my biggest ever Tophill count.

The Bank Holiday Monday sunshine saw 17 species of butterfly on the wing with over 720 individuals counted during an afternoon walk of the site, which included 7 Brimstone Gonepteryx rhamni, 2 Brown Argus Aricia agestis and over 200 Peacock Inachis io.

Brimstone Gonepteryx rhamni Tophill Low NR, East Yorkshire August 2013

A splendid 10 species of wader appeared over the weekend. The good Whimbrel Numenius phaeopus passage continued with two south on Sunday. A Little-ringed Plover Charadruis dubuis was present at the south end with several Dunlin Calidris alpina, while a Black-tailed Godwit Limosa limosa was encountered flying north through D reservoir, which also held another Black-necked Grebe Podiceps nigricollis. A maximum of 21 Little Gull Larus minutus appeared on D res on Saturday in gloomy conditions reminiscent of August Bank Holiday weekend 12 months ago, while a juvenile Yellow-legged Gull Larus michahellis appeared briefly before flying out east on Monday. Despite the Bank Holiday sunshine, the raptor highlight was a Hobby Falco subbuteo hawking Odonata – maybe the weather conditions were not quite right to encourage a decent movement of raptors. Click here for the rest of the week’s news from Tophill Low.

Ruddy Darter Sympetrum sanguineum Tophill Low NR, East Yorkshire August 2013

Five species of Odonata recorded on Monday demonstrated that despite it still being August, the season is starting to wind down. With what appears to be a year with little immigration, a count of 40 Migrant Hawker Aeshna mixta was respectable, while the other four species numbered 4 Southern Hawker A. cyanea, 8 Brown Hawker A. grandis, 89 Common Darter Sympetrum striolatum and 22 Ruddy Darter S. sanguineum.

Mompha raschkiella Tophill Low NR, East Yorkshire August 2013

The weekend saw another 1000 moths trapped of 112 species. The highlight being the first Mompha raschkiella for Tophill, but there were several more interesting records that prove that the subject area is anything but predictable!

Feathered Gothic Tholera decimalis Tophill Low NR, East Yorkshire August 2013

This Feathered Gothic Tholera decimalis was the fourth trapped on site, the previous three individuals were all trapped in 2002.

A species we always hope to trap in late-summer is Dusky Thorn Ennomos fuscantaria – this one below the fifth record in Tophill history.

Dusky Thorn Ennomos fuscantaria Tophill Low NR, East Yorkshire August 2013

Magpie Abraxas grossulariata Tophill Low NR, East Yorkshire August 2013

The distinctive Magpie Abraxas grossulariata is nationally a common species – amazingly this was only the sixth record since first being recorded at Tophill in 1999, and the first individual noted on site since 2002!

Other interesting records included the second Pyrausta aurata in Tophill history and a Tawny Speckled Pug Eupithecia icterata – the fifth since 1992 and the first for six years.

Other new species for the year included Gold Spot Plusia festucae, Centre-barred Sallow Atethmia centrago, and Sallow Xanthia icteritia – the latter two species a clear indication autumn is on the horizon. However, that means that likelihood of more species – will Dusky Sallow Eremobia ochroleuca be attracted to light after several years of blanks?

Gold Spot Plusia festucae Tophill Low NR, East Yorkshire August 2013

A further two hoverfly species were added to the Tophill list. Epistrophe grossulariae and Eristalinus sepulchralis were photographed and identified by Doug Fairweather at the southern end of the site. Many other species were also present in abundance, including numerous Syritta pipiens, while the first Helophilus trivittatus we’ve seen for several weeks also put in a brief appearance.

Epistrophe grossulariae Tophill Low NR, East Yorkshire August 2013

Eristalinus sepulchralis Tophill Low NR, East Yorkshire August 2013

A few stands of Pluteus cervinus Deer Shield were noted over the weekend, the first sign that a few more fungi will begin to feature, and hopefully a few more species will be added to the Tophill list.

Deer Shield Pluteus cervinus Tophill Low NR, East Yorkshire August 2013

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