Monday, 13 June 2016

Monday 13th. June 2016

Another of Hutchinsons Bank's specialities is coming into bloom , Greater Yellow Rattle / Rhinanthus angustifolius , along with it's smaller relation , Yellow Rattle/  R.minor .
A pristine male Large Skipper was my first this year .
Good numbers of Burnet Companion , a day flying moth , seen around the site .
I have only found a handful of Orange Tip eggs this year , and this the only larva .
On the Elm , White-letter Hairstreak larvae have reduced to a singleton , the others probably gone to pupate . The book says they do so on the underside of leaves , but much searching has failed to find a chrysalis .
Small Blue numbers have finally started to rise , with several females , brown like the females of several of
the blue species , being found , and being found and paired , with the ever alert males .
Found close by , an tiny immature Roesel's Bush Cricket , with much growing to do .
The Down House bird survey produced 20 species , the only possible Summer migrant being a singing Blackcap . I did record the first Yellowhammer of the year which was some compensation .
The garden has produced some interest , with a mating pair of Green Shieldbug / Palomena prasina , the female , like many other insect species , being noticeably larger than the male .
Up to no good amongst a Hebe , this Ichneumon , probably Amblyteles armatorius , but there are a large number in this group , and it makes identification difficult .
Also difficult to identify , this Cuckoo / Ruby-tailed Wasp , as there are several similar looking species . Called a Cuckoo Wasp because the female , having made sure no one is at home , reverses into a solitary  bee's nest and lays her eggs alongside the bee's eggs . The bee then seals the entrance with wax , unaware that the wasp larvae on hatching , feed on the bee larvae , before emerging themselves as adults .
Easier ti identify , the Wasp Beetle / Clytus arietis .
A new one for me , the metallic Rosemary Beetle / Chrysolina americana , an invasive species , as the name suggests , appearing from across the pond during the mid 1990s .
The High Elms butterfly transect is still producing really poor results , with the last two and a half hour transect recording just 14 butterflies from 8 species .
Most orchid species are down in number compared to last year , but a few Fly Orchids are still in flower ,
the first Pyramidal Orchids are about to burs into flower ,
and this was one of nine Bee Orchids just flowering that were found .
Also in flower , Scarlet Pimpernel / Anagallis arvensis , a member of the Primrose family ,
Grass Vetchling / Lathyrus nissolia , a member of the Pea family ,
and along a woodland path , Wood Speedwell / Veronica montana , a member of the Figwort family .
A passing golfer told me of an unusual sight , a swarm of bees in a circle on the 13th. fairway .
The Nuthatch pair that I posted 'claying' up their nesthole , have been successful with at least 2 young . I only
had my 100mm. macro lens with me , and on going back with a longer lens the next morning , found that they had fledged .

 A stop off at Keston found at least 6 pairs of House Martins , busy rebuilding or refurbishing nests .
Another visit to Hutchinsons Bank , found Martin with an unusual find , the larva of the Oak Eggar moth .
Glanville Fritillaries are still emerging on site , with numbers of fresh males like this one being seen , and a
few fresh females too . Weather permitting , they could be on the wing for a good while yet .
Brimstones were seen courting , both male and female looking very fresh . If they have hatched this year , they wouldn't normally mate until next Spring , after over-wintering as an adult , but who are we to tell them what to do .
A look around Spring Park Pond found a Whitethroat carrying food ,
a few blue damselfies like this pair of Azure in tandem ,
also in tandem , a pair of Large Red Damselflies .
on emergent vegetation , the exuvia of an Emperor Dragonfly , but no sign of the adult . A pair of Broad-bodied Chasers were also seen but were too busy chasing each other to stop for a picture .

Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Tuesday 31st. May 2016

Just as Summer was seemingly getting going , heavy rain and winds today have put the brakes on once again , although I must admit that the garden was much in need of the incessant wet stuff .
Earlier , in better conditions , a look up on the Common produced a few bits of interest ,
a Tick-Ixodida , probably brought in by one of the Roe Deer , deer being a major carrier of the ticks , which in turn can be carriers of Lyme disease , which can be transmitted to humans if they latch on to the body .
The first male Common Heath moths have emerged and as usual , difficult to photograph .
 Amongst the grass , the delicate Dovesfoot Cranesbill-Geranium molle ,
and it looks like there will be a good supply of berries on theflowering Rowan-Sorbus aucaparia .
I've made several visits to Hutchinsons Bank to enjoy the Glanville Fritillaries , and with the emergence of the
females , was lucky enough to see the first pairing and since then , a second pairing has been observed .
The Brimstones that over-wintered as adult , are gradually reducing in numbers as their time is finished , their offspring will appear later in the Summer .
I've found it another disappointing Spring for Orange Tips , and searching for eggs hasn't given much hope for next year , so few being found .
An unusual fly with an orange abdomen , seems to tick the boxes for Rhingia rostrata .
A quick look at Keston Ponds whilst en route to High Elms , found this female Mandarin with her six ducklings , which look very good look alikes for Mallard ducklings at this stage .
The butterfly transects at High Elms are still a struggle to find anything on some sections . Species numbers are up to 11 at best , but total numbers are still way down , once again  I put it down to the fact that much of the grassland was cut far too early last Autumn , destroying many butterfly eggs and larvae in the process .
Common Blue , a typical grassland species have emerged , but only on Burnt Gorse , where the gang mower cannot gt to , thank goodness .
It is also where the few Green Hairstreaks have been recorded , the females now laying the eggs that will be the next generation . After this one moved on , it took some time to find the small pearly green egg , nestled
in the buds of one of their foodplants , Birdsfoot Trefoil .
Also found was the first Garden Chafer-Phyllopertha horticola . No doubt the first of many , as they can be present in very large numbers some years .
The first Birdsnest Ochids have emerged , just four at the moment , but I get the feeling that orchids in
general look as if they are not having a good year so far either . The first White Helleborine also found , and
also the first Common Spotted Orchid to burst bud . Along the paths , evidence of Wych Elm , with lots of leaves and seeds on the ground . Thee fact that the seed is in the middle of the disc , determines that it is
Wych and not another member of the Elm family .
I've made a couple of visits to a site bellow Biggin Hill Airport where it was rumoured that Small Blues were seen last Summer . I'm glad to say that the rumour was true , having found 2 males on each visit and hoping
for more to emerge . Also on site , Swollen Thigh Beetle-Oedemera nobilis , only the male suffers the
swelling and what seems to be a solitary wasp , Gorytes quadrifasciatus .
A couple of stops at Spring Park Pond produced only common species of damselfly , but on vegetation
around the pond , Malachite Beetle or Red-tipped Flower Beetle-Malachius bipustulatus and a very
long-legged , evil looking fly Empis tessellata were found , both in good numbers . In the small meadow , a
well named Oak-striped Bug-Rhabdomiris striatellus was sunning itself on an Oak leaf and nearby ,
Bishop's Mitre-Aelia acuminata posed too . Between the pond and the meadow , the coppiced Small-leaved
Limes are regenerating really well .
My last visit to Hutchinsons Bank at the weekend , produced an opportunity to photograph the second
abarrant Glanville Fritillay , found earlier in the week , a lighter toned individual than the first . At the top of
the site , the Sainfoin-Onobrychis viciifolia , a member of the Pea family has started flowering , adding colour and more nectar for the invertibrates . On my way home , I stopped at a nearby Wych Elm to look for
White-letter Hairstreak larvae . Just two were found , one the usual green form , but the other was my first
 brown form , indicating that it is about to pupate . Strange thing is , I look for these larvae every time I do the HE transect , finding feeding damage on leaves , but never a larva . Also found on the Wych Elm was this
Copper Underwing larva which has cannibalistic tendencies , so WLHs beware .
Back home , we have had Robin , Blackbird and Dunnock fledglings in the garden and after much noise from
the Blue Tit box , all was quiet the other morning apart fro the odd squeak from this little one , on the grass in front of the box . Not a good situation , with several Corvids flying around . so , without much fuss , the
fledgling let me pick it up and place it in the Hawthorn tree . Almost immediately the parents found it and
returned constantly with food . Next time I looked , it was out in the open again and loudly calling for food .It moved several times around the garden and was still calling late evening . I hope it makes it .