Thursday, 13 August 2009

Thursday 13th.August 2009

Firstly , a big thank you to Dean for a correction and an ID , and Shysongbird for an ID , both relating to yesterday's post . Amendment and IDs posted in red on said post .
For a change , I am starting this post with a question , and don't worry , I do know the answer to this one . A plant we pass by , without a second look , and it was only because I was looking at an insect on it that I noticed that it was in flower . What is it ?

With rain early , I spent the morning , sorting out the vast number of photos taken over the last few days . As it happened , I could have done with a lot more rain to finish them , but I had a meeting arranged in the afternoon with Steve/Kingsdowner , who was in the area today . The planned visit was to High Elms , with Violet Helleborine , Silver Washed Fritillary and White Letter Hairstreak as target species . Fortunately , the weather did start to clear late morning , and on the way to meet Steve , I stopped off at Keston Ponds for a look around . Things were pretty quiet , but a few Dragon/Damselflies were on the wing . Two Brown Hawker males were battling over the top pond , and here too Red Eyed , Common Blue and Blue Tailed Damselflies were recorded , along with a good number of Common Darters , some mating and ovipositing .
Later , I met up with Steve , and a very pleasant time was had showing him around High Elms .
We were able to cross Violet Helleborine off the list early on , but there were only one or two flowers remaining for a photograph . By the time we got to the Silver Washed Fritillary area , the sun had disappeared behind a large bank of cloud . We pressed on to the Orchid Bank , but still no sun . Butterflies were very hard to come by in these conditions , but Steve kept busy photographing Broad Leaved Helleborines . Eventually the sun re-appeared , and the SWF started to show themselves . Most are getting very tatty now , but the odd one or two are still very respectable . When be came back to the female's laying area , a kind female obliged and gave good views . I then had to smile when she first attempted to lay on my camera bag , and then on Steve's trousers . The Small Glade and Burnt Gorse followed , both producing SWFs , and a few plants of interest . The only shot I took there was of Volucell inanis . A few more species were found , but still not the elusive WLH . The lower glade was tried , but that proved negative as well . Whilst there , we thought we had another Volucella inanis flying around a stand of Hemp Agrimony and Golden Rod , but on closer inspection , it turned out to be a Hornet-Vespa crabro . We watched it hunting for a while , then it disappeared . We relocated it within the stand , having an early tea . It's meal appeared to be a Hover Fly of some description , perhaps Marmalade . Hanging onto a stalk with one leg and another on a leaf , it started munching it's way through it's prey . Within what seemed like a very short period of time , the food held in it's front legs was gone , and the Hornet had a quick 'wash and brush up' , before flying off to look for afters . We made our way back to the Orchid Bank to check the Hemp Agrimony for a last time for WLH , but still did not find any .
On the way back to the cars , we found some Green Wood-cup fungus , but nothing else to write home about . A most enjoyable afternoon in good company , hopefully when Steve comes again , we will get the WLHs.
I'll post the answer to the flower question , if nobody gets it , tomorrow .


Warren Baker said...

It's always nice to break the isolation with some like minded company Greenie. I went for my evening walk, and it proved to be the best part of the day........more on tomorrows post!

roger.wood800 said...

Great to see some of the photos you've been taking recently.
I'm just back from a few days in Switzerland, visiting my girlfriend, who is currently living and working near Lugano.
It was there (a few years back, now) that I had my first chance to watch hornets at close quarters. I was near a stand of golden rod, watching to see whatever came by, and mostly it was bees. Then along came a hornet, which also flew round the flowers, but you could kind of tell it wasn't really interested in them like the bees were.
And then - all of a sudden - whack! Just as one bee was backing out from a flower head, the hornet pounced on it from behind and put it in a bear-hug, right in front of me. In the next second, it snipped off the bee's head, and was off and away with it!
Hmmm, they're real brutal little beasties, aren't they!
I was also lucky enough to get another 'first' on this latest trip. I thought I'd seen a clouded yellow land near a stick by some brambles, but when I got to it I couldn't see any sign of it. I tried jiggling the stick, and each time I did it seemed as if something was moving. I looked closer, and there it was... the first praying mantis I've ever seen in my life.

Greenie said...

Roger ,
Those Hornets certainly don't hang about when looking for a meal .
The speed of devouring the Hoverfly was amazing .
As would be finding a Preying Mantis .