Thursday, 30 November 2017

The Scarce Small Skipper Butterfly aka the Essex Skipper Butterfly

A couple of years ago or so we were referred to as Novice Lepidopterists.

Truth to tell and Sadly perhaps, not much has changed and the Epithet is probably as true today as it was then. Just as then, we still have troubles in identifying Butterflies viz. differentiating between [i] Green-Veined White, Large White and Small White Butterflies, [ii] Meadow Brown and Ringlet Butterflies and [iii] Essex and Small Skipper Butterflies.

We mention this because yesterday (Wednesday), we were sitting on the Train after visiting the Library and glancing through, An Illustrated Natural History of British Butterflies and Moths (E Newman, Published c. 1880). We came across the Pages covering the Skipper Butterflies. There were references to Large Skippers (seen locally) viz.

and Small Skippers (seen locally) viz.

but nothing about the Essex Skipper (also seen locally) viz.

Which made us wonder: is the Essex Skipper a fairly recent arrival to our Shores or what?

The simple answer would appear to be that it has been a long-term Resident.

Our next Port of Call was, The Butterflies of the British Isles (R South, Published 1906), which includes a reference to the Essex Skipper. It would seem that a Mr Hawes collected three Specimens in Essex during 1888 and assumed they were varieties of the Small Skipper. It was not until 1889/1890 that the Essex Skipper was recognised as being a Species in its own right (the connection between Mr Hawes and the Butterfly being recognised as a Species in its own right is not clear).

WF Kirby, in Butterflies and Moths (Published 1913) refers to it as the Scarce Small Skipper.

But as far as we are concerned, it would make life so much easier it all wee-tiny brown Butterflies with either black (Essex or Scarce Small Skipper) or brown (Small Skipper) tips to their Antennae were still just Small Skippers!

Saturday, 25 November 2017

It doesn't take much to Please Us (Again)

We decided to walk along the Thames Path from the old Belvedere Power Station Jetty/Wharf, downstream to Erith (aka the 'Patch') dropping off to see if we could find the Stonechat that appears to be Over-Wintering by the small Lake beside Church Manorway.

After spotting a couple of Teals on the Mud beside the old Power Station Jetty/Wharf, the next Birds seen were Redshanks and Lapwings viz.

And then, as we were approaching Ringed Plover Territory, we noticed something moving beside the River: it was a Dunlin. Looking closely we then noticed a Ringed Plover: then another and another viz.


There were two Dunlins viz.

Walking on we saw some some Gulls standing by the River: all Black-Headed Gulls.

And Wow: we then saw some Black-Tailed Godwits, Dunlins and Redshanks just below the Sea Wall and Super-Close viz.

We were in Seventh Heaven for a few minutes before the Dunlins, Redshanks and some of the Godwits flew off. So: time to move on.

Before turning off to look at the Lake we noticed some more Teals and a Grey Heron.

There was no Stonechat to be seen (or heard) beside the Lake but we did see five Moorhens (we wonder if they are all related) and a Coot.

Back by the River we noticed some more Black-Headed Gulls, Linnets (high up on the Erith Docks Buildings), Mallards (always Mallards), a couple of Redshanks and a Teal. Including a very elegant looking, assumed First Winter, Black-Headed Gull viz.

Further downstream we saw more Black-Tailed Godwits, Dunlins and Redshanks. Also a couple of Shelducks, some Common Gulls, some Lesser Black-Backed Gulls and lots more (distantish) Black-Headed Gulls.

As is our Wont, we looked though the Ranks of the Black-Headed Gulls in the hopes of seeing a Mediterranean Gull. And we thought Wow: that might be one! We went through the standard Uncertainties: is it, no it isn't, but it might be, can't be, but it might be &c. and ended up thinking, it is viz.

Wow again.

By then our hands were pretty much Frozen and with the Sun sinking behind the nearby Buildings we decided to call it a day and head Homewards via Sainsbury's.

Whilst waiting outside Sainsbury's for the Bus to take us up the Hill and Home we looked Westwards at the Sky: it was on Fire viz.

And when we were almost Home we glanced upwards and saw some Craters on the Moon viz.

Footnote: entering the Mediterranean Gull' Sighting into our Patchwork Challenge List (59 Species now) we noticed that other people were seeing Green-Winged Teal, Leach's Petrel, Cattle Egret and Cackling Goose.

Can our Ringed Plovers &c. compare? Sure as heck they can!

Monday, 20 November 2017

Miniature Worlds Beckon Again

We have essentially bidden, Adieu, to the Butterflies until next year (God Willing) and it won't be too long (again, God Willing) until we see the Crocuses, Lesser Celandines, Sweet Violets &c. re-appearing in flower.

The Birds are of course ever-present but it is the time of the year when our attention turns to the Miniature Worlds of (tiny) Funguses, Lichens, Liverworts, Mosses &c. viz.

Rightly or wrongly we don't really attempt to Identify them: as mentioned elsewhere, we have enough trouble with Birds, Butterflies and Wild Flowers. But we enjoy looking for them.

Sunday, 19 November 2017

As we approach Winter there are still quite a few Plants in Flower locally

As we approach Winter, we have seen quite a few Plants in Flower during the past few days, including:

[i] beside the Public Footpath running between the Thames Path and Church Manorway:

Black Horehound viz.

Black Medick
Common Field-Speedwell viz.

Common Knapweed viz.

Common Vetch viz.

Creeping Thistle viz.

Goat's-Rue viz.

Hedgerow Crane's-Bill viz.

Hogweed viz.

Mugwort (at least we think it's just about flowering) viz.

Narrow-Leaved Ragwort
Oxeye Daisy
Red Campion viz.

Red Dead-Nettle
Round-Leaved Crane's-Bill viz.

White Campion
White Clover
and Yarrow viz.

Plus an Unidentified Member of the Daisy Family viz.

and an assumed Perforate St John's-Wort which, if the Frost holds off, might be flowering shortly viz.

[ii] beside Church Manorway:

Bristly Oxtongue viz.

Common Knapweed
Greater Knapweed viz.

Narrow-Leaved Ragwort
Red Clover
White Clover
Plus an Unidentified Member of the Cabbage Family (although we hope to sort an ID out sooner rather than later) viz.

[iii] beside the Public Footpath running between the Thames Path and Norman Road North:

Spanish Stonecrop viz.

and Winter Heliotrope viz.

[iv] beside Norman Road North:

Bristly Ox-Tongue
Common Knapweed
Crown Vetch viz.

Goat's-Rue viz.

Wild Carrot viz.

and [v] beside the Thames Path:

Common Mallow
Cowslip viz.

and Sea Aster viz.