Firstly , before I forget them again , the other two poor shots of the large bird of prey , seen as I arrived at Fackenden Down last Monday .On the way out this morning , I did a quick lap of the Common on the way . Blackcap (2) and Chiffchaff (3) were still competing in song , and I put up one Blackcap from the Gorse , that might have been on a nest . I think the Long Tailed Tits may have a family now , as I saw both parents to and from the nest . Because of the hazy sunshine , not many butterflies were on the wing . The softer light was good for one Peacock that I found warming up .
From the Common I headed for the London Wildlife Trust site at Salt Box Hill , just below Biggin Hill Airport . Since my last visit last year , the site has been stockproof fenced , with the probability of grazing . I'm really pleased about this , as money has been spent several times clearing the site , only for it to become overgrown again . I hope that the grazing goes ahead , not just another white elephant . This site has always been good for Brimstones , and the further clearance for fencing seems to have improved it further . A conservative estimate of the fenced and smaller unfenced areas population of Brimstone would be 35/40 insects , nearly one half of them females , and nearly every female I saw was egg laying on Buckthorn . Those females that were not actively egg laying were being pursued my one or more males , sometimes numbering four .Here , the sulphur coloured male attempts to mate with the paler coloured female . I think the 'headache' word was used , as he was unsuccessful , and flew off to meet his mates down the pub . Other species recorded were , Speckled Wood (2) , Green Veined White (3) , Large White (2) , Small White (4) , Orange Tip (2) and Peacock (2) . At one point , standing counting the Brimstones around me , I had , Willow Warbler , Blackcap , Chiffchaff and Robin , all sounding off at once . Other birds recorded included , Jay , Magpie , Woodpigeon , Chaffinch , Wren , Blackbird , Mistle Thrush , Blue and Great Tit . There are several bits of tin lying around the site , and these produced 15/20 Slow Worms and a Short Tailed Field Vole . On leaving , I disturbed a Roe stag , who saw me off the premised with a series of barks .
I must admit that I was not happy with the Green Hairsteak shot that I posted yesterday , but , with the time constraints of the butterfly transect , it was the best I could get . So I decided to call back on the way home and have another go . There was more breeze than yesterday , but the glare of the sun was less , and almost immediately I started finding them again . Some wer in the grass and some were sunning , when not scrapping , on a Wayfarer Tree . Eventually I got a few shots that I was happier with and this is one of them . I said yesterday , that I would have expected to find Dingy Skipper as well as Grizzled Skipper as they both emerge about the same time . Well , all I could find again today was the Grizzled ,but then , just before giving up and going home , I found my first Dingy Skipper of the year , albeit looking more like a moth , but once again those clubbed antennae give it away .
Tomorrow , I'm taking a page out of Warren's book , and taking Carol to the coast . She doesn't know it yet , but it will be Dungeness RSPB Reserve , and the binoculars and camera WILL be going .
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