Friday, 19 June 2009

Friday 19th.June 2009

With similar weather to yesterday forecasted , I got an early start , heading for Lullingstone Country Park / Golf Course , with two species on my list . The first , Lizard Orchid and the second , Dark Green Fritillary butterfly , but given the wind , could well be a problem .
On arrival at the site , I decided to walk along the River Darenth , with the hope of finding Banded Demoiselles . The wind was very gusty , and the few Damselflies that I saw , were in sheltered , sunny spots , away from the water . As I passed Lullingstone Castle , it was good to see 10/15 House Martins , hawking for insects in the grounds and adjacent fields . Apparently , their numbers are really down this year , and I haven't seen them locally to me , and they were regular breeders on the site . Good numbers of Skylarks were lifting off the fields , and singing in defiance of that strong wind . It wasn't until I reached a small bridge over the river that I got reasonable views of the male Banded Demoiselle . Annoyingly , he wouldn't come closer to the bridge , and sat in the bankside vegetation , flashing his wings , trying to attract females , none of whom seemed to be about at the time . I headed off up a footpath , between the Country Park and the farmland , and was pleased to find a Red Admiral , the first I have seen for some time , but not prepared to be photographed . Further along , a freshly emerged Speckled Wood declined the camera as well . It was becoming obvious , that any butterflies would be found in sheltered , sunny spots , out of that wind . So it was that I found yet another Small Tortoiseshell , albeit tatty , soaking up the sun on the footpath . Good numbers of Skippers , both Large and Small were recorded , along with a few Painted Ladies , they too , were tatty . When I got to the grass areas around the Golf Course , Meadow Browns and Ringlets were more numerous , and it wasn't long till I found the first Dark Green Fritillary , only , as I went to get a record shot , a Meadow Brown disturbed it , and it was gone , not to be seen again . Common Blues and Small Heaths were also recorded here , along with one Large White .
I headed over to the Orchid Bank , and as I did so , had several House Martins , Swifts and Swallows , hawking over the grass and the surrounding vegetation . When I reached the top of the Orchid Bank , I sighted another DGF , feeding on Greater Knapweed , and looking so fresh that it couldn't have emerged long ago . Like most Fritillaries , the ground colour is that deep orange with black markings , but this species gets it's name from the underwing , with it's green sheen and creamy white spots . As with the Silver Washed Fritillary , the female is duller in colour than the male . Having found the DGF , I set about looking for the Lizard Orchid , which shouldn't be a problem , as it is probably the biggest of all the Orchids . I spent ages , covering the areas where it always shows up , but could not find any sign . There were plenty of Pyramidal , fewer Fragrant and just a few Bee Orchids , but not a sign of the Lizard . Perhaps it is taking a break , like the Violet Helleborine at High Elms did last year , and will return next year . This is the only site that I find dual-colour Greater Knapweed , and rather than the normal purple flowers , some of the specimens have a lilac and pink colour , and anyway , it gives another opportunity to get a picture of the 6 Spot Burnet Moth in as well . Other flowers found included a very delicate member of the Pea family , Grass Vetchling , with a beautiful shade of pink , and as it's name implies , looks just like a blade of grass with this flower on a single stem . Scrambling amongst the long grass was another member of that same family , Tufted Vetch , with it's colour varying from violet to blue , depending on it's age . Looking a bit like a flower , and found mostly on Rose , is the Robin's Pin Cushion . It is in fact caused by the larvae of a gaul wasp-Diplolepis rosae . Going very well together colourwise , this male specimen , identified by the swollen hind femora , of Oedemera nobilis . Day flying moths recorded include Yellow Shell , Burnet Companion ,6 Spot Burnet , Silver Y and Cinnabar moth .
Other birds of note seen/heard were Chiffchaff , Blackcap , Yellowhammer ,Kestrel ,Green Woodpecker and Willow Warbler .
On my way off the Orchid Bank , I noticed 2 DGFs , getting very active in one area of grass , and when I got closer , I could see a newly emerged DGF down on one of the stems . I could see that the wings were not fully inflated , and that it was still colouring up . I'm not sure whether or not it was a female , but given that I only found 8/10 DGFs on the site , and they all appeared to be males from their gizz , I just don't know . On the way back to the car , I came across another of those sheltered Bramble patches , and apart from the many butterflies it held , a female Broad Bodied Chaser seemed to be snoozing on one side , already looking a bit faded . On the other side a female Banded Demoiselle posed daintily for the camera . By the time I reached the car , there were more clouds than blue patches , so I headed home , happy with my 50% strike rate .


Kingsdowner said...

Some lovely shots there, especially the emergent DGFrit. That's a great little bit of habitat.

I'm a huge fan of Thick-kneed flower beetles (or swollen-thighed beetles).

Anonymous said...

The background to that female Banded Demoiselle has a look of the undersea world about it.

Warren Baker said...

Some special pics there today greenie. Dark green Fritillary is now my favourite butterfly. (until the next one!)