They still have a few field meetings in the programme, and today I met up with some of them to look at Purdis Heath near Ipswich. This is a nice piece of remnant heath being managed by Butterfly Conservation mainly for Silver-studded blues. The heather was absolutely gorgeous, mostly Ling, but some Bell-heather still in flower, and absolutely full of bees and hoverflies.
I spotted the very distinctive bramble Rubus laciniatus, otherwise known as the Cut-leaved or Parsley-leaved bramble. This is about the only bramble which I can ID on sight, there are just too many others which all look the same - I'm afraid I don't have the time to be a specialist. It is said to have very tasty fruit, and I can testify to that.
It was a good day for insects, one of our party managed to catch a Heath Assassin Bug, a very cryptically marked predatory bug which is said to stridulate when handled - well this one didn't - at least if it did no-one could hear it.
|Heath Assassin Bug|
We also found the first Greyling recorded on the heath since 2005, can you see it in my photo?
I was disappointed that it was too late to see the Silver-studded blues, but we did see a number of Purple hairstreaks in some of the oaks, and we were shown some of their eggs which they lay on the buds at the tips of the twigs. Makes sense as they over-winter as eggs.
|It's on that leaf!|
The S-s blues lay their eggs on a variety of plants including the heathers, gorse and Common bird's-foot trefoil. I didn't see any of the latter but did see several plants of Bird's-foot which is confusingly a completely different species, much smaller with pinkish flowers. I knew this plant from The Scillies this year where I was looking for the much rarer Orange Bird's-foot, without success.