I only managed to get a shot of one adult with 6 of the youngsters . By half past nine , with the temperature at 21C. , I left the lake and headed off to Salt Box Hill , just below Biggin Hill Airport , for my first visit this year . A lot of clearance work , probably by contractors over the winter , had obviously been done , but when I got to the kissing gate on the large patch and found it chained and padlocked , there was only one answer , animals must be on the site . And so it was , the two Dartmoor ponies that had destroyed the site last year , were standing in the shade . When I had the meeting with the grazier last summer , he said that grazing would be minimal this year . Minimal must mean something different to graziers , as later I met two local people who voluntarily keep an eye on the animals , who told me that the two ponies had been on site for months , and it showed , and also that the grazier didn't have any grass for them on other sites , so here they stay , to destroy even more of the site . Nothing I could do , so I got on with the butterfly survey . First find was not a butterfly but another day flying moth , the Treble Bar . Brimstones were the most numerous species ( 13 including 5 egg laying females ) , but six other species , all in small numbers , were found , including two female Holly Blues , one of which was egg laying on Cornus/Dogwood , even though the books say just Holly and Ivy are used . The most numerous of all though , were the St.Mark's Flies , with their dangling legs , which were swarming everywhere .Very difficult to focus on , but they will certainly sustain all those arriving migrants . In the wooded area , one of the more unusual Buttercups , Goldilocks/Ranunculus auricomus , with it's deep cut leaves in swirls around the stem . Before leaving , I tried to cool off in the shade at the top of the site , a great spot to look for Common Buzzards , but even with perfect conditions for them , they did not put in an appearance .
With Lunch time looming , my last stop was the old farm house at Keston , which I have been watching each time I pass , to see if the House Martins had returned . As I pulled off the road , a black and white blob emerged from one of the under the eaves nests , they were back . I set up the tripod to get some shots , but the speed entering and leaving the nests made things difficult . At least leaving , a head poking out of the nest before the launch , gave some warning , but returning was much harder , as they arrived from behind . At least three pairs were around , and , talking to the owner later , they must have arrived late yesterday/early today , as there was no sign of them yesterday during the day . It was not just the House Martins that have returned , the pair of Grey Wagtails that were seen last year , were back , using the damaged roof to gain entry to their preferred nesting site .
And finally , looking around the garden after lunch , a handsome looking hoverfly , Helophilus pendulus , was sunning itself on the leaves of the Marsh Marigold in the pond . Carol had seen a Large Red Damselfly around the pond in the morning , but no sign this afternoon .