Thursday, 21 May 2009

Thursday 21st.May 2009

After the excitement of yesterday , it was back to reality , with the Reptile survey at Fackenden Downs , as the other surveyor is out of the country at the moment . Numbers have not been outstanding so far this year , and when I arrived at the first set of refugia , finding a Common Lizard sitting on the corrugated iron confirmed my doubts , as this would be a tasty meal for any Adder in the vicinity . Shortly after , the sun went in as I started turning other refugia . Then , down in the bottom corner of the field , I put up a small butterfly , showing silvery underneath in flight . Brown Argus I thought , then lost sight of it . One Slow Worm under the refugia , then another sighting of 'the little silvery one' . This time , I managed to spot where it landed , and slowly crept towards it . To my amazement , I was looking at one of the rarest , and definitely the smallest butterfly in Britain , the Small Blue . Then another flash of silver , and a second landed not far away . I managed a few more shots , then the sun came out again , and they both became very active , and I lost sight of them both . Feeling well chuffed , I carried on with the reptile survey , not finding much . Another Common Lizard on a wood pile , this one having lost it's tail at some time . A few Common Blues were recorded and then the first of two Small Heaths . Dingy Skippers found , were starting to live up to their name , as some were definitely very close to their sell by date . Here , one was breakfasting with a Common Blue . At the next set of refugia , I found another two male Small Blues , scrapping with each other . Eventually , one flew off and the other settled in the grass . I got down to photograph it , and whilst doing so , saw a movement out of the corner of my eye . 2 feet away , tucked in the longer grass was a female Adder , and she had decided to slip away into the vegetation . All over the site , beetles were dropping out of the sky into the grass . I'm reasonably sure they are Garden Chafers-Phyllopertha horticola , at times it seemed as if the ground was moving , there were so many of them . Still just the odd Slow Worm under the refugia , until I got to a pair with a log pile close by , a spot where I have found Common Lizard sunning itself . No Lizard this time , replaced by another female Adder , unfortunately , she saw me as I saw her , and she was off , but the first time I have had an Adder in that location . Crossing into the field where the two ponies were , I was so pleased that they had been taken off 2/3 weeks ago , not only for the reptiles , but also because the Fragrant Orchids are already flowering . This field was a picture with them last year , and hopefully , it will be the same this year . It also contains the majority of the Horseshoe Vetch , the food plant of the Chalkhill Blue , and it is in full flower . I didn't realise till I got home , but the shot also got a couple of the large number of small day flying moths that were seen today . Other plants included Kidney Vetch , the foodplant of the Small Blue , and also coming into flower , Yellow Rattle , a parasitic plant on grass roots , so called because the Victorians used the dry seed heads as rattles for their babies. An immature Adder was found under one felt
most probably a male . Under another felt , I found this black beetle , which I thought at first was a Stag Beetle of some sort , but the antennae do not fit in with that species . I'm still looking , but would be obliged for any help . Sizewise , it was at least 3cm. long excluding antennae . Since posting , I realise it is a very large specimen of the Violet Ground Beetle-Carabus violaceus , never seen one that big before . . The bottom path is covered in Sainfoin , a member of the pea family . As I made my way back , a large raptor loomed up from behind some trees , hopefully no trouble with this one , a Common Buzzard , hunting probably for one of the many rabbits on the site .
Before I knew it , two Carrion Crows came from nowhere , and to put it in the words of another blogger 'escorted it to the parish boundary' , noisily . While this was going on , there was another large bird , high up , but I'm not sure if the poor shot would enable identification . A Sparrowhawk was also seen just before leaving . Heading back to the car along the bottom track , I came across another two Small Blues , and whilst photographing one of them , it took a fancy to my walking boot . Then it decided to give me a closer inspection , and landed on my camera . Oh to have a second to get that shot . Then it landed on my finger , which began a very sureal ten minutes , when I stood with this small, rare butterfly , taking salts from the sweat on my fingers , whilst I photographed him doing it . By the time he had had enough , my disc of 148 shots was full . This has once before to me , with another rare butterfly , the Heath Fritillary , at East Blean Woods near Canterbury , many years ago , on a sticky , humid afternoon .
The reptile return was 23 Slow Worms , 2 Common Lizards and 3 Adders .
The butterfly list was , Peacock (2) , Small Copper (1) , Dingy Skipper (17) , Small Blue (6+) ,Common Blue (33) , Orange Tip (1) , Green Hairstreak (2) , Small Heath (2) , Grizzled Skipper (3) , Small White (3) , Green Veined White (3) and Brown Argus (3) . Six Burnet Companion and one Treble Bar day flying moths were also recorded .
Apart from the pictured birds , Yellowhammer , Blackcap , Common Whitethroat and a calling Tawny Owl were recorded ( sorry Warren ) , but , just for you ,


Ken Browne. said...

Hi Greenie.
Well what a day you had. Excellent is a better word to use. Finding the Small Blue Butterflies was great. But what I want to know is just how do you do it? What I wouldn't give to have a butterfly land on my hand, let along long enough to photograph it. I do remember it happening when I was a kid, and before anyone says it, no it wasn't THAT long ago(HaHa)Seriously Fred you certainly do have the knack. Great blog, great pictures.

ShySongbird said...

Wonderful, what a thrill to see the Small Blues and in such a 'close up and personal' way. Another very informative post and lovely photos.

Kingsdowner said...

Very pleased to see that you found small blues at Fakenham, and that you managed to get touchy-feely with them. Adders next?

Also good to hear that the horses have gone!

Warren Baker said...

Another great post Greenie. A good day for you and a good read for us!

I think the large bird in the sky is a Gull. LBB or Herring.

Thanks for the shameless sex scenes and the end of your post, must be fun having both sets of reproductive organs!