Next was the Down House bird survey , a couple of days late , but I wanted to avoid a weekday because of major roadworks in the village . By the time I arrived , the sun had warmed things up and even a teeshirt seemed too much to have on . 22 species were recorded , about average , with the best being a male Sparrowhawk warming himself up in the garden , a Great Spotted Woodpecker nest in the Sandwalk woodland , where once again I put up a Roe Deer , and a singing Yellowhammer almost at the end . Halfway through , I detoured onto West Kent Golf Course to see if the Kidney Vetch , that the small colony of Small Blues depend on , was in flower yet , which it was , just , but very few plants were found . On the Golf Course , Sainfoin-Onobrychis vicilifolia , a member of the Pea family , had also started to flower . Back in the open meadows of Down House , Yellow Rattle-Rhinanthus minor , a semi-parasitic member of the Figwort family was doing likewise . It gets it's name from the fact that the seeds when ripe , rattle within their pods , just like a baby's rattle . A few butterflies , Large White (5) , Small Copper (4) , Common Blue (8) and Green-veined White (2) were also recorded . Lots of the day flying moth , Burnet Companion and a single Cinnabar moth , were also seen .
On the way back home , I stopped off at the Farm Lake , my first visit for a while . The recent high temperatures and the fact that it looked as if no water had been pumped in from the artesian well , which would have cooled things down , meant that the whole place was alive with dragon/damselflies . Most obvious were the large numbers of newly emerged Black Tailed Skimmers , identified by the still wet , soft wings . It appeared that every step around the bank , put up more , making their maiden flights into the safety of the surrounding trees . It is impossible to sex the insects at this stage , as like the Broad Bodied Chasers , they all emerge the same golden colour . Every bay , lily pad and stand of reed had aerial battles going on for ownership , and many involved probably the easiest dragonfly to recognise , the Four Spotted Chaser , the only dragonfly to a four spots halfway along all four wings . A small butterfly caught my attention next , and when I managed to get a look at it , it turned out to be a very fresh , small Comma . Going by the book , not due out till the end of the month , and this one , one of the form 'hutchinsoni' , with golden brown underside , the later specimens will have much darker undersides . Back at the water , some of the earlier emerged Black Tailed Skimmers , were found already colouring up , and the males like this one staking their claims along with the rest . The males can be confused with male BBChasers from their colouring , but they do not have the broad bodies , nor the brown markings at the base of the wings of the BBCs . Although I didn't see any at Spring Park , there was no shortage of Emperor Dragonflies here . They too were joining in the aerial battles , driving off any intruders , and as usual , hardly ever stopping . This lake always has good numbers of Black Tailed Skimmers , but the numbers of Broad Bodied Chasers are always well behind , but this female , with her mate guarding her from above , was doing her best to redress the balance . I took about 20 shots of her dipping the end of her abdomen into the water and releasing an egg each time , in the hope that the timing on the odd one might be right , and this was that one . A butterfly amongst the Ragged Robin , which I thought was a 'white' from a distance , when I got up to it , turned out to be a female Brimstone .
I took a few shots , and when I looked them back , found that I had managed to get one of the rarely seen topwing if this butterfly , as she moved to her next nectar source . Other butterfly species recorded included Common Blue (5) , Large White (2) , Green-veined White (2) and my first Meadow Brown of the year , but he didn't hang around for a photo .
As well as the dragonflies , damselflies were also lifting off all around the lake . Large Red , Common Blue , Azure and Blue Tailed were all recorded in good numbers , along with the first sighting of the year for me , of Red Eyed Damselfly . I had been looking during the visit for one of the Emerald Dragonflies , which I have recorded over the last few years on this site . I thought that I got a view of one , but it was gone before I could be sure . I stuck around , and a while later , it reappeared . It then took another half hour to get a shot of it that wasn't blurred , as this species is even more active than the Emperor , if that were possible and only about half the size . This species is the Downy Emerald , and although not rare , I only record in ones and twos , but I'm reasonably sure that they are breeding on this site . As I walked back to the car , the unmistakable glide of a Demoiselle over the reeds , and when I got the binoculars on it , a male Beautiful Demoiselle , could it be the one Carol helped out of the carport the other day ? Now I've got 2 to record . That brought the Odonata species list to 10 for the visit .