Ocean Mist

7 May 2017

May Kildare Outing Report

Posted by Jes

The bitter easterly wind of the previous two days abated to give us a glorious, calm, sunny day that was perfect for butterflies, and for us. A great turn out, with one person joining us from Kent and others from Carlow, Kilkenny, and Westmeath made long journeys to savour the delights of the butterflies that live in the incredible habitats present in this beautiful wilderness in Kildare. One of the great advantages of butterfly watching here is that you see several species as soon as you get out of the car! The more you look, the more you see, but the habitat is so richly endowed you do not need to seek too long or travel too far to find even the more specialist species, like Dingy Skipper or Marsh Fritillary. The area continues to surprise; today I saw the first Holly Blue I have seen in the area; common enough this year, but not particularly associated with vegetated cutaway bog. However, some Common Holly has now appeared in the birch/willow woodland, and the butterfly seems to be taking advantage of this new habitat. We walked on to the cutaway at Lullymore and soon found Dingy Skipper, Small Copper and Cryptic Wood White. The latter is the only Irish butterfly that is absent from the British list, and is keenly sought by UK visitors. The heat and dry conditions saw a couple of males seek moisture from exposed, damp peat. Brimstones were much in evidence. Males pestered unresponsive previously mated females busy trying to lay their eggs. Males were seeking out the food plant to accost the females. One encounter, which lasted several minutes, was photographed by our members and visitors. The Brimstone, a highly conspicuous butterfly is limited to areas containing the larval food plant, itself very patchily distributed, making it a butterfly that is either very common and  familiar  or completely absent. Our winter clearing work to open buckthorns to direct sunlight showed instant results. Brimstones rarely lay on shaded plants and clearing encroaching scrub has greatly increased the plants available for breeding. We gathered here for some time, looking at the butterflies and several eggs; one short terminal shoot contained seven eggs. Moths were also present, but only one Narrow-bordered Bee Hawkmoth was seen, a little early in May for this most interesting-looking creature. We did see Mother Shipton, named after a Yorkshire witch because of the witch’s face profile of the forewing. A very elusive species, the Beautiful Yellow Underwing was netted by our moth expert, Philip Strickland. It is the first close view I have had of this moth. Later I managed to net a Small Purple-barred, a macro-moth and  beautiful seen up close, and not a common species. Our meandering took us to Lullybeg Reserve which still looks a little bare after the management late in 2017 but which will show a burst of growth in the coming weeks. We re-traced our steps, and picnicked at our pull-in spot. Altogether a beautiful, relaxing and rewarding day. Thank to all who came, and added to the enjoyment of being in a great place.

What have you got there?©D.Bel-maguire.

Brimstone Aerial antics.©D.Bel-maguire.

Dingy Skipper.©J.Harding.

Green Tiger Beetles.©J.Harding.

Brimstone ova ob Alder Buckthorn.©J.Harding.

First Small Copper recorded in 2017!©J.Harding.

Small Purple-barred.©J.Harding.

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