Saturday, 17 April 2010

Saturday 17th.April 2010

After a misty , grey start , sunshine was forecasted , so I headed for Knoll Park , near Sevenoaks , with a wish list of Common Redstart , Tree Pipit , Wood Lark and Cuckoo . Well , the sun did come out , and out of the breeze it was quite pleasant , but only Tree Pipit appeared from the wish list , and he was very distant , and even more distant when a group of runners passed noisily under his tree . Plenty of Willow Warblers , a Yellowhammer singing , but not seen , large numbers of Jackdaws , not surprising given all the trees with holes or damage on them , Chiffchaffs and Blackcaps singing , and everywhere , Stock Doves calling . The odd Green Woodpecker , lots of Wrens singing and even more Great and Blue Tits . But , no more species from my wish list .
At the bottom of a sloping track , bathed in sunshine and out of the breeze , the 'Pussy Willow' catkins of the Goat Willow/Great Sallow , were hosting a good number of insects , many bees and bumblebees , several Peacock butterflies , and this very well presented Small Tortoiseshell , avidly feeding on the nectar . At the top of the site are some very large Beech trees , and growing on many of them are this bracket fungi , Fomes fomentarius-Hoof or Tinder Fungus . This specimen was at least 30cms. high and the same wide . The good weather had attracted lots of families , and the paths were soon busy with bikes , prams and a few footballs , so that was my cue to head out . I headed for the area around Bough Beech Reservoir , not far away , to see if I could find some Orange Tip butterflies , as , I have been lucky here in previous years . The particular field I stopped at , has a good amount of Cuckoo Flower/Ladies Smock/Milk Maids , growing along the inside if the roadside hedge . The flowers were in full sun , and sheltered behind the hedge , and it wasn't long till I spotted my first specimen , a female , feeding on the species 'food plant' . Shortly afterwards , I spotted the first of 4/5 males , racing almost non stop along the line of flowers . Occasionally they do have to stop to refuel , giving the only chance of a shot . At one time , a male found the female resting in the grass , but , she was not interested in mating , turning the end of her abdomen skywards . I must say that if anyone wants a good work out , try following a male Orange Tip for a picture . on the woodland edge leading up the field , several Peacocks were again feeding on Pussy Willow , and this on feeding on Dandelion . Also growing in the field edge , and just coming into flower , I found Bugle-Ajuga reptans , another of the Labiate family . The Orange Tips were also crossing into the woodland , and following them , I found another Chiffchaff , busily building it's nest . Males were calling , and two Blackcaps were also heard .
To get home , I had to cross the Greensand Ridge , and I can never just drive over . I stopped , just to have a look under some of the closest refugia , as we should be doing a full survey during the week . It was quite warm by now , and I didn't expect anything under the refugia , so I was also looking around them . Surprisingly , I did record my first two Grass Snakes of the year , both under corrugated tin . They were both juvenile specimens , probably born last season , and not much thicker than a boot lace , as can be seen by the size of the leaves in the picture . I did find one male Adder in a brash pile , well actually , he found me first , and I just saw the back of him as he headed deeper into the pile . One Slow Worm was added , and as I headed back to the car , I found this male Adder stretched across my path . From the eye , he looks as if he has already sloughed , and is sporting his mating colours . So it looks as if the 'all lads together' bit is over , and now it will be , every man for himself .


Anonymous said...

I like that last shot of the adder - down at his level. Nice one,

Kingsdowner said...

Great shots again..... the chiffchaff especially.
You're right about Orange Tips - just stand back and admire!

Anonymous said...

All great pics Greenie, but i`m with Kingsdowner. That Chiffchaff is bang on.

Steve said...

Great pictures Fred - especially the last Adder.