Just a quick post before heading off for a family get together .
Did the Down House Bird Survey this morning , and I wondered at the end if it was worth it with just 14 species , good job Warren's away , being recorded , and the best of a poor bunch being a Mistle Thrush .
Just as well that there were other things to look at . In the walled vegetable garden , I found a small moth that I usually see on downland , Pyrausta purpualis , soaking up the morning sun . Further along the border was a small bee feeding on Evening Primrose flowers , but with very swollen red femurs . I haven't seen it before , and wondered if anyone else has ? Once I got out into the fields , it was obvious that there had been a large emergence of Small Coppers .
Every single stand of Creeping Thistle seemed to have aerial duels between males , disputing ownership . I recorded 13 specimens whilst doing the Bird Survey , but had I been surveying butterflies , I would have probably found 2/3 times as many . Meadow Browns were still the most numerous species , and they are still mating . I was surprised to find a fresh looking male Marbled White , the only one recorded today , he must have got his timing wrong , and missed his chance of mating . The full list was , Meadow Brown (78) , Gatekeeper (27) , Marbled White (1) , Large White (7) ,Small White (10) , Green Veined White (1) , Comma (4) , Peacock (5) , Small Copper (13) ,Speckled Wood (2) , Small Skipper (5) , Common Blue (14) , Brown Argus (3) and Painted Lady (18) , making 14 , the same number of butterfly species as bird species recorded .
I didn't really have the time , but decided to call in at High Elms , for a quick look for White-
letter Hairstreak . When I got to the Silver Washed Fritillary area , I came across Peter Kirby , Conservation Officer for Butterfly Conservation , Kent Branch , and his family , engrossed in photographing the female SWFs egg laying . After a quick chat , I left them to it and headed for the Orchid Bank . On arrival at the stand of Hemp Agrimony there were several male and female SWFs nectaring , and attempting to mate . There were Peacock , Red Admiral , Comma , Large White and a single White-letter Hairstreak , hidden amongst all the coming and going . An absolutely pristine male , probably emerged this morning , with his tails , those little extensions behind the orange markings in perfect condition . So my worst fears that they didn't breed last year have gone , and hopefully , more of this species will be found in the next few days . This species gets it's name from the white letter 'W' on the underwing .
23 hours ago