Saturday, 25 July 2015

Arnside Knott

The Silverdale / Arnside area is one of the most biodiverse regions in the UK, with Arnside Knott arguably the jewel in the crown. Many rare and unusual species occur on the Knott, for example a couple of years ago I was shown Teesdale violet which grows only here and on the sugar limestone at Teesdale. Today we spent our day bug, butterfly and plant hunting on the Knott and saw a decent selection of what the place has to offer.

Undoubtably the star of the show, a freshly emerged high brown fritillary. This is a rare butterfly in the UK with Arnside Knott and other limestone crags in the area such as Gait Barrows and Warton Crag amongst its few UK strongholds.

It's very difficult to seperate this species from dark-green fritillary, you really need a good look at the underwing, but fortunately you can just about see here the two diagnostic red "polo mints" near the base of the underwing.

Not far behind high brown fritillary comes Scotch argus, here at one of only two UK locations outside Scotland. The species is right at the start of its flight season, so this individual must be freshly emerged. Even so it's pretty tatty looking already!

Even rarer and more localised than high brown fritillary, this is dark-red helleborine. This orchid grows on limestone,mainly along the North Wales coast, in North West Scotland and here at Arnside, as well as a few place in the Pennines.

Dark-green fritillary. Many of these are starting to look faded and worn now.

Northern brown argus. Definately faded and worn!

Even without the butterflies and plants, Arnside Knott is a great place to visit and one of the most breathtakingly beautiful places I know.

We also called in briefly at the new Public Hide at Leighton Moss. Not a lot to report from here, except this poor coot with a grossly deformed bill. It seemed to be feeding ok though.


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