Sunday, 14 June 2009

Sunday 14th.June 2009

With higher temperatures than yesterday forecasted , I got out early to do a couple of local visits . The first was to the farm lake , and the temperature was already 19C . The rain and then warm weather has certainly brought on the flowers around the lake , with Musk Mallow showing well in the morning light , and more delicate than the Common variety . Another of my favourites is the Purple Loosestrife , which is just starting to come into flower . In another couple of weeks the margins will be ablaze with it's colour . The few Common Spotted Orchids are starting to go over now , but their colour is being taken over by good numbers of Pyramidal Orchids . A couple of posts ago , I mentioned the young frogs/toads around the lake , well , if it's possible , there were even more today , perhaps because of my early visit . The ground is just seething with thousands of them . On the water , all is well with the two Little Grebe families , still totalling 12 , and with the female Mallard and her 4 youngsters . The young Coots are huge , and are getting their white head markings now . In the vegetation around the bank , Damsel/Dragonflies were emerging all over the place . Lots more Common Darters , most but not all , successfully making their first flights . Four Emperor Dragonflies were patrolling their territories , and I estimated at least 35 mature Black Tailed Skimmers , both male and female ,
the males permanently on the lookout for females returning to the water to mate , and for the females to lay their eggs . Quite often , a female laying her eggs will be grabbed by another male and mated , the new male having removed any eggs and sperm from the previous mating , before passing his sperm sack to the female . The way things are going , last year's estimated maximum of 75+ on a visit on 22nd.June , will be equalled or even bettered . Everything on the lake isn't that rosy though , as two happenings will show . Firstly , I found a newly emerged BTS
floundering in the water , and having fished it out , found how it had got there . For some reason , one of it's wings hasn't developed at all , and as I said before for an insect eating machine , it's a case of 'fly or die' , and I don't think this one will be catching any food . The other was the sight of a Common Darter making it's first flight towards the trees , when , from out of the trees flies a female Chaffinch , and that was the end of the Common Darter . I saw the same thing happening here a couple of years ago . Just 4 species of butterfly were recorded during my visit .
The second site I visited was Salt Box Hill , just below Biggin Hill Airport , managed by London Wildlife Trust . Better butterfly numbers included Large Skipper -pictured nectaring on Welted Thistle (8) , Meadow Brown (28) , Large White (1) , Small Heath (3) , Common Blue (2) , Speckled Wood (2) and the first Brimstone - pictured , a female , that I have seen for a while . A probable first of the new brood from eggs laid by the overwintering females that we saw in the Spring . A 'mewing' from above had me watching a Common Buzzard , riding high on the thermals , but at one point , went into a stoop type dive when almost overhead , but unfortunately pulled out of it whilst still at a good height . In one small area , I came across two poisonous plants , growing side by side . The first was Bittersweet -Solanum dulcamara , and right beside it , Deadly Nightshade-Atropa bella-donna . Both plants , having flowered , produce black berries , the first listed as poisonous and the second as extremely poisonous . Amongst the long grass were lots of young Crickets . If you are not sure whether an insect is a Cricket or a Grasshopper , a good old rule of thumb is , if the antennae are longer than the body , it's a Cricket , shorter than the body , it's a Grasshopper .


Ken Browne. said...

Hi Greenie. Glad the aquatic bird life are still doing well. Nice pictures, as usual.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for that rule of thumb on the cricket / grasshopper id.