Friday, 27 May 2011

Friday 27th. May 2011

I didn't decide until the last minute this morning whether to go looking for another Fritillary butterfly in woodland near Canterbury , but in the end decided to go . The sky was grey and it was cool , not butterfly weather at all . That weather didn't improve on the way down , and it was even cooler when I arrived on site . I was there before 9.00 , but there were already people there , two of them having left home in Nottingham at 3.00 . A fleece was definitely needed , and there was no sign of any breaks in the gloom . Searching around , roosting butterflies were found , and they were only too happy to get warmth from our fingers . And this is what it was all about , one of the rarest UK butterflies , the Heath Fritillary . This species is only found in a handful of sites , all in the South of England . After about an hour , a 30 second spell of sunshine was enough to encourage some of them to open up and show their topwings . In the same short spell , large numbers of longhorn moth/Adela reaumurella took to the air as well , but the sunshine disappeared as quickly as it arrived , and the grey gloom descended again .
I made the second executive decision of the morning , and left the woods heading for RSPB Stodmarsh , about 10 minutes away , thinking that if the weather improved , I would stop at the woods on my way home later . Arriving at Stodmarsh , the fleece and a jacket were donned against a very keen wind . I set off from the Grove Ferry end , heading towards the centre of the reserve . Every reed lined ditch was alive with Reed and Sedge Warblers and good numbers of Cetti's Warblers were heard , but as usual rarely seen . The wind seemed to be keeping the birds well down in the vegetation , but the Konik ponies were showing off their new arrivals . I saw four mares , three foals and a single stallion with a broad grin on his face .
The first of several Marsh Harrier sightings came when a large flock of Starlings lifted off en mass when this male flew over them . I tried to get a shot of the flock lifting off and chasing him , but was thwarted by the tall reeds , and by the time I got to a gap , he had gained height and was off . As I said , plenty of Warblers , and this Sedge Warbler already had young in the nest , from that bill full of insects . On one of the open water areas , a pair of Mute Swans were already caring for two youngsters , but in this ditch , the pen was still sitting tight , with the cob patrolling close by . In the air , three Cormorants were doing their version of the Red Arrows , with an 'in line' fly past , and from the many Swallows , House Martins and Swifts that I attempted to photograph in flight , this was one of the few passable efforts . Heading back to the car to pick up my lunch , a distant view of a female Marsh Harrier , and along the track , one of many young Rabbits that were seen on the site . I'll leave it there for tonight , and will post the remainder of the site visit , plus the return to the woods , and an unexpected garden visitor when I got home , tomorrow .


Warren Baker said...

Unexpected garden visitor ! Sounds exciting Greenie :-)

Nice Sedgie photo by the way :-)

Anonymous said...

Greenie, those Longhorns are Nemophora degeerella.

Mike H said...

Hi greenie,

Have followed your blog for some time now. Today I think I must have followed you around for most of the day although I was probably around two hours behind you. I visited Blean and then onto Stodmarsh. Met the couple from Nottingham and thanks to Dean now know the correct name of the Longhorn. Great blog as always wonder if i bumped into you !!

Greenie said...

Dean ,
Thanks for the correct moth ID .
I thought I had got that one right , for once .

Mike H ,
I spoke to a chap at Grove Ferry entrance who was trying to direct a car driver , met another in Marsh hide briefly , and spoke to another who asked about the locked hide . Any of those fit ?

Mike H said...

Hi Greenie,

After posting my comments I realised like you that we possibly did meet. The comments and coinsidences were too great.!!Indeed it was me who chatted to you at the entrance to Grove ferry trying to direct the car driver.Trust you like i had a good day, no doubt in part 2 I will find out more. Great to put a face to a name.

ShySongbird said...

What a good day you had Greenie resulting in a most interesting post. The fritillary is lovely. As so often with your posts I was intrigued to find out more and read it was thought to be on the brink of extinction in the late 70s. It must be a real thrill to see such a rare species! Lovely photo of it on your finger. Great photo of the Sedge Warbler too.

I am already looking forward to part two :)