Friday, 19 September 2008

Friday 19th.September 2008

I let the day warm up a bit , then headed off to Fackenden Down near Shoreham , Kent . By the time I arrived , the temperature was up to about 17C. and it rose higher whilst I was there . After my last visit , I didn't expect a lot , and I was not disappointed . Even the Slow Worms were well down , with a count of 20 , and only two Adders . The first shot off at warp factor ten , but the second , allowed a couple of shots before disappearing . Both were males , but there was no sign of juveniles , which was the object of the excercise . Close to the non-photogenic male , were these sloughs , the discarded old skins of animals , allowing further growth . They break through the old skin around the head area , then pull themselves through vegetation , so that the old skin peels back , like us being helped off with our coat . Sometimes , if the slough was off an Adder , you can see the zig-zag pattern on the slough , but these had been out in the weather for too long and just broke up on touching .
Butterflies found looked as if they would break up on touching as well . The first , a Brown Argus , had definately seen better days , as did the only Chalkhill Blue that I found on the site .
Had it not been for the size and the underwing , it could have been one of many species . The Small Copper found , was substantially sound , but had somehow got damage to the hind wing on one side only . In all , I recorded 9 species of butterfly - Speckled Wood (7) , Brown Argus (8) , Meadow Brown (32) , Common Blue (3) , Small White (1) , Large White (2) , Comma (1) , Small Copper (1) and Chalkhill Blue (1) . I also recorded Southern Hawker and Migrant Hawker and Common Darter . Even the grasshopper and cricket numbers have dramatically fallen , but I did find this female Roesel's Bush-Cricket amongst the grass . Female because of the ovipositor on the end of her abdomen . Birdwise , things were quiet too , a flock of Goldfinched , odd Tits and a couple of singing Robins , and a mid distant view of what I believe was a Common Buzzard over White Hill , further down the valley .

Wasn't sure where I was going afterwards , but decided to have a look in at the Kent Wildlife Trust reserve at Sevenoaks , sorry Josh , didn't ask for permission to trespass . The first hide told the story , very quiet , with nothing exciting . Walking on , I came across a large area of Buddleia , standing in full sun , and it was here that the butterflies were concentrated . Six species were recorded - Red Admiral (5 , pictured above) , Comma (2 , pictured below) , Small White (1) , Speckled Wood (1) , Large White (1) and Green Veined White (1) .
Dragon/damselflies showed in good numbers with Brown and Migrant Hawker , Common Darter , Common Blue and Blue Tailed Damselfly all being recorded . The only 'out of the ordinary' birds recorded , were a pair of Egyptian Geese , and what I would call a 'Bitsa Goose' , as it's pedigree seems to be 'a bit of this and a bit of that' .

Tomorow I'm in deepest Surrey , coppicing with the Surrey Hedgelaying Group , so I don't know if there will be anything to post , but we will see .

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