Thursday, 25 June 2009

Thursday 25th.June 2009

After two days confined to the yard on the Greensand Ridge , I couldn't wait to get out this morning . With the Biggin Hill Air Fair on at the weekend , I decided to visit the sites that I will not be able to get to , without difficulty , whilst the Air Fair is on .
On my way , I stopped off at the Common , to see what was happening . Although early , I checked the Ash tree for any signs of Purple Hairstreak , both on arrival and just before leaving , but did not see anything . In the same glade , Meadow Browns , Ringlets and the odd Large Skipper were on the wing . Not far from the Ash tree , Common Toadflax was found in full flower , and in the aptly named Orchid Glade , a handful of Common Spotted , probably 100+ Pyramidal and a second Bee Orchid - pictured , were found . In the same glade , Yellow Rattle and Lucerne , also known as Alfalfa , a member of the Pea family , was found in many shades from lilac to my favourite , deep purple . Both probably brought in as seed on the tractor / grass cutter in the Autumn . On the heathland , very little was found , but the Brimstone caterpillars are just getting larger and larger , but no adults seen on the wing . Other species found on site were , Large and Small Skipper and Small Heath . Other interest found , were a pair of Bullfinches calling , but not showing themselves , the Chiffchaff , still singing his heart out on the heathland , and a sign of modern day life , a cannibis grinder .
From the Common , I headed for High Elms , the road to which becomes part of the one way system to get traffic from the M25 to the Air Show on both days , so well worth avoiding over the weekend . As I have posted before , as I arrived , the sun became milky , then disappeared . My chances of White Admiral went with it , but , at the end of the glade where I sometimes find them , I did have sight of what I am very sure , but not positive , was my first Silver Washed Fritillary , but I will not record it as such , because of not being 100% sure , and it was at a distance . All was quiet in the small glade where I watched the female SWFs laying their eggs last year , so I headed up to Burnt Gorse . Not the hive of activity there either , but I did find a second male Marbled White , and along the top edge , a male Brimstone - pictured , recently emerged by the look of him . The usual Skippers , the odd Common Blue and several fresh looking Commas , along with the Meadow Browns and Ringlets completed the recording .
The third site visited , after lunch , was Salt Box Hill , directly below Biggin Hill Airport , so an obvious 'no go' for the weekend . On one particular part of the site Wild Parsnip is coming into flower . I didn't re-find the Dark Green Fritillary , but the Marbled Whites (79) had emerged since my last visit at the weekend , and these will increase to about 200 hopefully , when the females emerge . Like many butterfly species , the females are larger , and the underwing markings , black on this male , are brown . The Meadow Browns (41) are getting down to what they were put here for , once again , the larger female on the right . Ringlets (52) , Large Skipper (8) , Brimstone (5) , Small White (1) , Comma (2) , Large White (1) , Common Blue (2) , Speckled Wood (2) and Small Skipper (1) , made up the 11 species recorded . The most frustrating time on site , was when I found a Hummingbird Hawk Moth , a migrant from the Continent , feeding on Bedstraw . It just would not stay still , and by the time the camera focused , it had moved on to the next flower , eventually disappearing into the big blue yonder .
I had to pass the farm lake on the way home , and the car just turns in naturally . A bit of a breeze was blowing across the lake , but warm under the now unbroken blue sky . I could only find one of the first Little Grebe youngsters , and three of the second family youngsters . The other side of the coin is that the Mallard family , Mum and four , are still intact , the Moorhens now have three young , and the four , first brood , Coots , now have another 5 newly hatched young , and the first brood seem to have been exiled to the far side of the lake , to get on with things for themselves . This is probably where the saying 'bald as a Coot' comes from . Around the lake , things are turning yellow , as masses of Ladies Bedstraw comes into flower . Even with a conservative estimate of 50+ Black Tailed Skimmers around the lake , they are still emerging in good numbers , this one having flown up onto surrounding trees to finish drying it's wings . If it is a female , then when she comes back to the water to breed , she will be set upon by 6/10 males , as was happening whilst I was there . The Azure Damselflies , like all of them are mating ready to start the new generation , and the Common Darters are showing signs of maturing , so their breeding time will come soon . Other species recorded were , Large Red , Blue Tailed and Common Blue Damselflies and Emperor Dragonfly . Butterflies were few , but six species in small numbers were recorded .


Warren Baker said...

Well you certainly made up for your lack of outings recently Greenie! You saw more lepidoptera/Odonata in a day, than I do in a Season here!

Ken Browne. said...

Hi Greenie.
I'm glad you finally got out and about. It seems as if the insects are on the increase, going by your numbers. What a good selection of flora and fauna you found today.Nice photo's.