Shark food

Posted by Graeme Lyons , Friday 14 May 2010 16:14

I had a good day assessing our grazing operation on the Lewes Downs today. Started with Malling Down. Five Buzzards and a couple of singing Lesser Whitethroats were the bird highlight. Butterflies on the wing included Small Copper and my first Common Blue, Large White and Grizzled Skipper of the year! Moths included Pyrausta despicata, Pyrausta nigrata and this Shark moth. It's not Chamomile Shark, it doesn't have the triple fringe on the hindwing and the dark streaks on the forewing don't extend to the tip. It is more the season for Chamomile Shark and this moth had just emerged, note how the wings are held back and even more strangely the 'Elvis quiff' is not extended. I didn't realise this was held back when they emerged. The vegetation here is also distinctly lacking in mayweeds and chamomiles (Chamomile Shark food) but one of the commonest components of this chalk grassland is Rough Hawkbit (Shark food!). We then went on to Southerham and at Bible Bottom we found some Chalk Milkwort and this Yellow Belle moth. There were also several Dingy Skippers and Small Heaths. Linnets and Meadow Pipits were using the dew pond to bathe. We had a look at Caburn Bottom and there was loads of Chalk Milkwort and about 30 Burnt-tip Orchids, although I am sure there were many more there. This weekend would be a great time to see them.

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