This morning was even worse than yesterday , and it took till nearly 3 o'clock to get a few breaks in the grey sky . Having said that , at time of writing , we have wall to wall sunshine , too late .
I spent the grey part of the day processing the recently taken photos , a job , I must admit has needed doing for some time . Even so , I didn't catch up completely , but most have been sorted .
I only managed an hour or so out this afternoon , and spent it up on West Wickham Common . An unexpected find was a juvenile Kestrel , going by the downiness on the head and cheeks .
It didn't seem bothered by my attention , and spent most of the time preening .
The wind was still strong , keeping insects sheltering in the Brambles and Nettles , which was where I found another new Hover-fly for me , Epistrophe grossulariae , and this one was yellow and black . On the Brambles around the heathland restoration area were dozens of these Cuckoo Bees , this species being the Vestal Cuckoo Bee-Bombus vestalis . On searching for it's identity , I find that this is a male , and that Cuckoo Bees do not have pollen baskets on their back legs , and this particular species breeds in the nests of Bombus terrestris , hence the 'cuckoo' bit .
The heathland area was quiet , apart from hundreds of Grasshoppers , in varying stages of development , which was very handy for a couple of Odonata that I came across . The first was a male Black Tailed Skimmer , which I saw taking the Grasshoppers , before resting in between snacks . The second was an immature Emperor Dragonfly . On the Common , I thought that it was probably a female from the colouring , and this was confirmed when I checked the photos at home , being able to see the anal appendage , which is at the end of the abdomen . With a large dragonfly like this it is possible as the female has what I can only describe as two small feathers , but the male sports his much stronger looking claspers , with which he secures a female behind the head when in tandem . I found another tent of Peacock caterpillars on a stand of nettles , but they were much less advanced than the ones at Spring Park . The now reasonably warm sunshine even encouraged the Dock Leaf Bug-Coreus marginatus into togetherness .
And finally , in an attempt to make some sense out the mumbo-jumbo that I wrote on Dean's blog /DDD yesterday . On the left is the exuvia of the Common Hawker , which I think was what Dean had found , and on the right that of the Broad Bodied Chaser . Apart from overall size and proportions , the labium , eating parts is good for identifying exuvia . The BBC on the left has a spoon shaped labium and the CH on the right has a flat labium . I know that Warren will not bother reading or looking at this , as he understood and agreed with the ID last night .
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