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 .