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 .
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
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 ,