Netherclay

Netherclay Community Woodland - Taunton, Somerset, UK. ID 825_7476

Netherclay Community Woodland – Taunton, Somerset, UK. ID 825_7476

Over the years I have visited several nature reserves on the lookout for the elusive brown hairstreak butterfly.  I have seen them (once) before but never got a picture.  That was on a visit to The Welsh Wildlife Centre in Pembrokeshire.  It was displaying just behind my car low to ground in a perfect position to have its picture taken.  Sadly, my camera was in that car beneath all our holiday luggage.

My brown hairstreak saga still continues.  I look for it on my weekly butterfly transects of Lynchcombe, and I’ve even visited reserves down in Dorset.  But with no luck.

So today I headed out to Netherclay Community Woodland near Taunton.  It is getting late in the season so I was getting a bit worried.  On the other hand there have been lots of recent brown hairstreak sightings posted on Facebook so I felt lucky.

Netherclay Community Woodland - Taunton, Somerset, UK. ID 825_7237

Netherclay Community Woodland – Taunton, Somerset, UK. ID 825_7237

This was my first either visit to Netherclay and I was so exited!

Netherclay

This is a small community woodland owned by the Somerset Wildlife Trust.  Along the northern edge are hawthorn and blackthorn as well as ash and oak.  I decided to concentrate on this part of the reserve.

Common Darter (Sympetrum striolatum) - Netherclay, Somerset, UK. ID 825_7044

Common Darter (Sympetrum striolatum) – Netherclay, Somerset, UK. ID 825_7044

The immediate impact was the large numbers of common darters. So I took some time out from my quest and capture them backlit.

The River Tone runs along the southern edge of the reserve. It has some quaint old bridges and lots of over hanging trees.   Its home to some special golden-ringed dragonflies.  This one patrolled one of the glades, flying up and down before having a rest.

Golden-ringed Dragonfly (Cordulegaster boltonii) - Netherclay, Somerset, UK. ID 825_7193

Golden-ringed Dragonfly (Cordulegaster boltonii) – Netherclay, Somerset, UK. ID 825_7193

The reserve is crisscrossed with footpath. Some deep in shade, others in the warm sunshine.  The brown hairstreaks spend a lot of time high in the trees only dropping down to lay their eggs on hawthorn.  So a loitered around each bush on the lookout.

This time of year hawthorn is covered in sloe berries.

Sloe Berries - Netherclay, Somerset, UK. ID 825_7230

Sloe Berries – Netherclay, Somerset, UK. ID 825_7230

While on my hunt the other usually suspects made appearances: speckled wood, meadow brown, red admiral, comma and small whites.

Speckled Wood (Pararge aegeria) - Netherdlay, Somerset, UK. ID 825_7085

Speckled Wood (Pararge aegeria) – Netherdlay, Somerset, UK. ID 825_7085

Comma (Polygonia c-album) on Blackberries - Lynchcombe, Somerset, UK. ID 825_7129

Comma (Polygonia c-album) on Blackberries – Lynchcombe, Somerset, UK. ID 825_7129

Holly blues put in a special appearance feeding on the ivy flowers.

Holly blue (Celastrina argiolus) - Netherclay, Somerset, UK. ID 825_7294

Holly blue (Celastrina argiolus) – Netherclay, Somerset, UK. ID 825_7294

Holly blue (Celastrina argiolus) - Netherclay, Somerset, UK. ID 825_7389

Holly blue (Celastrina argiolus) – Netherclay, Somerset, UK. ID 825_7389

It was good to see their wings open.

Holly blue (Celastrina argiolus) - Netherclay, Somerset, UK. ID 825_7456

Holly blue (Celastrina argiolus) – Netherclay, Somerset, UK. ID 825_7456

And Finally…

In the centre of this bush is a brown hairstreak butterfly.  Its pretty hard to spot but I finally got my picture.

Brown Hairstreak (Thecla betulae) - Netherclay, Somerset, UK. ID 825_7173

Brown Hairstreak (Thecla betulae) – Netherclay, Somerset, UK. ID 825_7173

Here are some zoomed in sections showing the butterfly.  Its a bit hidden but its definitely a brown hairstreak.

Brown Hairstreak (Thecla betulae) - Netherclay, Somerset, UK. ID 825_7173

Brown Hairstreak (Thecla betulae) – Netherclay, Somerset, UK. ID 825_7173

This second picture is clearer but the camera focused on the leaves not the butterfly.

Brown Hairstreak (Thecla betulae) - Netherclay, Somerset, UK. ID 825_7174

Brown Hairstreak (Thecla betulae) – Netherclay, Somerset, UK. ID 825_7174

So its was a success.  I eventually got my picture even if its tiny and out of focus.  Next year I will get the picture I really wanted and post it on Facebook with all the others.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *