Thursday, 4 September 2008

Thursday 4th.September 2008

After completing the West Wickham Common Bird Survey , I stopped briefly at the main junction on Hayes Common , to see if there were any signs of Wasp Spider . It was here last year that four Wasp Spider eggs sacks were found , not knowing what they were at the time . I photographed them and then set about identifying them . With help from a member of Orpington Field Club and a contact who has a great knowledge of spiders and many other facets of wildlife , they were identified . In the meantime , I had taken copies of the photos to the Natural History Museum , who came up with - ' a coccoon of a moth ' . Once identified as Wasp Spider egg sacks , I Googled it , and up came images the same as mine . I got back on to the Natural History Museum , and gave them the details of the identification . They said they would look into it and get back to me , I haven't heard a word since . Anyway , I managed to find one of last year's egg sacks , looking a bit like a hot air balloon that had daflated somewhat over the year . The interesting thing though , was that the seal , placed by the female having layed her eggs , was still intact . So it would appear that for some reason the eggs did not hatch into young spiders , and the female would have died off over last winter . Could this be the reason for not finding any signs of this species in the area . Also found was a Common Lizard soaking up the sun , when it made an appearance . Unexpectedly in this habitat , Gorse ,Heather and Bracken , I found three Holly Blues , all females , and with a bit of patience , and sun , managed to get open wing shots of all three . The vegetation held large numbers of spiders including this rather

striking one , Araneus diadematus-Garden Spider , with it's diagnostic white cross on the abdomen .

My next stop was at the farm lake , where all was not peace and serenity . Reason being that the adult Coots , imparticular the male , had decided that it was 'time the kids wern't here' , and spent the whole time of my visit , and a large amount of energy , trying to drive the seven youngsters away from his lake . They in turn , used the lily pads to hide in , only to emerge into open water every time he retreated . Once again he would spot them and come charging across the lake like a destroyer in a surface ramming excercise . It will be interesting to see on my next visit if he has driven them off , or has run out of steam . Elsewhere on the lake , the Moorhens remain at 4 , the single juvenile Little Grebe is holding it's own , and 3 Mallard have taken up residence . Dragon/damselflies are still dwindling with Common Darters most numerous and still mating and ovipositing , as is a single female Emperor . One Brown and one Migrant Hawker and about 25+ Common Blue Damselfly were also seen . Butterflies are down to 3 Meadow Brown , 4 Brown Argus ,11 Common Blue and 3 Speckled woods . Birdwise , very quiet apart from the Goldfinches feeding on the seedheads and this Magpie looking for mischief .

A qiuck visit to High Elms did not produce the hoped-for Clouded Yellow ,but there were several foreign Silver Y moths on the wing , probably enduced over on the recent Southerly winds . The silver Y marking can be seen on the shoulder of the wing . The only colourful butterfly I saw was this tawny Comma , taking something from the leaf surface with it's proboscis .

I did manage a short walk around lunchtime today , before the weather closed in , and spent it on Keston Common . There at Keston Bog , one of the places visited by Charles Darwin , I found the seed heads of Bog Asphodel , giving a splash of orange over the green foliage . This must be one of a few places within Greater London where this plant can be found . Just before the first heavy shower of the day , I found this fungi on a stump . It is Fistulina hepatica , but I by far prefer it's common names - Beefsteak Fungus or Ox-tongue . This particular fungus causes brown rot of the wood , and the Oak is a rich , dark brown , and is much in demand by the furniture maker . I took my cue from the heavy sky , and headed home .


Warren Baker said...

Maybe that coot will send some of it's offspring my Way. Coots are a scarce visitor to my patch. Another interseting and varied post.

Steve said...

Interesting about the Wasp Spiders Fred - I haven't been able to find my New Hythe ones (yet) this year...learning alot about Fungi from your posts - thanks!