Thursday, 17 June 2010

Thursday 17th.June 2010

Yesterday's volunteering involved path strimming in the morning and working in the yard in the afternoon , subsequently no wildlife was seen . I had already made up my mind to spend today at Lullingstone Country Park / Golf Course , with the target species , Dark Green Fritillary . Then last night I got a call from fellow enthusiast Keith , to say he had visited that afternoon and found the Fritillaries on the wing , so that confirmed today's visit .
It was cool and overcast when I arrived at the bank frequented by this species , and from that vantage point , I couldn't see any breaks in that cloud . Eventually , small chinks of blue started to appear , and so did the first of about 10 specimens seen today , all in pristine condition . Slowly , one by one , they arrived for breakfast on one of the only stands of Greater Knapweed-Centaurea scabiosa . The species gets it's name from the green wash on the underwings . They are attracted to purple flowers like the Greater Knapweed , but I also photographed them later nectaring on Pyramidal Orchid and the yellow flower of one of the Hawkweed/Hawkbit family . Also there for breakfast were a couple of 6 Spot Burnet moths .
After commenting on Rob's blog , Wight Rambles the other day about how infuriating it can be trying to photograph the red hindwing of the Cinnabar moth , I found one today caught up in the long grass , and spent a couple of minutes releasing it . As a 'thank you' , the moth then showed it's hindwing , briefly , but enough to get a rare shot .
The cloud closed in again , so I headed towards the River Darenth , in search of Odonata . Checking stands of Nettles for caterpillars , which I found few of , I came across lots of Harlequin Ladybirds . Not only adults , but several larvae , and a couple of pupae too . This particular pupa , seemed to be just in the process of shedding it's old skin , and moving into the next stage or instar , of it's developement . Close to the Darenth , I found the species that I had been hoping for , the Banded Demoiselle-Calyopteryx splendens , and very splendid they are too . The male , electric blue , with a blue band across both pairs of wings . Like many Odonata , they have set up territories along the bank , and defend their patch against all comers , hoping to attract a female to lay her eggs , that he will fertilise , into the emergent vegetation along the bank .

I saw no sign of mating , in fact nearly all the females were away from the water , resting of feeding , like the one above , just finishing a small moth that she had caught in flight .The only other species found in large numbers was the Common Blue Damselfly , with many pairs found in tandem . Most females were of the 'drab' form , being coloured a pinky grey , but I did find one pair , where the female , on the right , was of the blue form , the first time I have photographed the combination . Birdwise , things were quite quiet , but I did hear Turtle Dove calling whilst I was photographing the Fritillaries , along with several Yellowhammers . Skylarks showed in good numbers , which was pleasing , and their song just makes the weather better . This one was just starting it's parachute decent . Surprisingly , not a single Burnet Companion was recorded today , but several Treble Bars were . And finally , help please with a caterpillar which I looks like a moth species , found in a Bramble patch whilst following Odonata . Done some digging after dinner , and I think it is the caterpillar of the Yellow Tailed Moth - Euproctis similis .


Phil said...

I'm surprised I didn't bump in to you today Greenie, Lullingstone and the river Darent being my preferred choice today. I too chased a Cinnabar moth for a picture but to no avail. Stunning shots of the Dark Green Fritillary, i'm Greenie with envy!

Anonymous said...

Yes, nice one of the DGF, Greenie, and you scooped the Cinnabar hindwing shot too. I haven't seen any Knapweed flowering yet.

Kingsdowner said...

Some great photographs today Fred - a very steady hand.

Anonymous said...

Yellow-tail it is Greenie and like the others have said, great photos.