A spotty twelve-inch person!?

After a somewhat dank and drizzly start to the day it was rather pleasant later in the day to be joined by a number of Red Admirals cavorting around the buddleia. There were definitely two distinct ‘versions’ of these butterflies,  some rather tatty  specimens that had obviously been around for some time, but also a couple that were very fresh, like this one that settled on the nearby picnic bench.

A rather fresh looking Red Admiral, basking in late autumn sun

A rather fresh looking Red Admiral, basking in late autumn sun

The warmth also brought out a number of dragonflies, with up to twenty Southern Hawkers reported outside the viewing screen opposite the Ivy North Hide. A pristine Migrant Hawker briefly perched up, but wasn’t considerate enough to hang on whilst I went to get my camera. A slightly more obliging mating pair of Common Darters spent several minutes on the bench, allowing me to capture this image showing how the male uses his abdominal claspers to grip the female, just behind her head. She brings her abdomen up to collect sperm, he has previously placed there, from under his thorax, a classic mating configuration in dragonflies and damselflies, known as the ‘cartwheel’ position.

Pair of mating common darters

Pair of mating common darters

The  Clifdon Nonpareil,  that Jim found in the moth trap yesterday, appears to be one of several that have turned up in Hampshire ( and possibly further afield). They are apparently more commonly attracted by ‘sugaring’, involving a sweet sticky mixture smeared on a rope or similar.  The moth trap last night didn’t have anything quite as spectacular, but did produce this nationally scarce immigrant moth, a male Four-spotted Footman.

Four-spotted Footman

Four-spotted Footman

To give you some idea of the difference in size of these moths I’ve included this comparison image.

Clivden nonpareil with Four-spottedFootman and a penny for size comparison

Clifdon nonpareil with Four-spotted Footman and a penny for size comparison

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