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 .