Monday, 23 May 2011

Monday 23rd. May 2011

For once the forecasters were spot on , with a wind building throughout the day to the strength of a winter storm at times . I decided it would be a waste of time and money to visit a couple of sites way down in Kent , so just stayed local . As I will be working up on the Greensand Ridge tomorrow and Wednesday , my first stop was at the Great Spotted Woodpecker nest site up on the Common , now things have returned to normal . The female was showing the signs of a dotting mother , being very calm and collected as she fed one of the youngsters , then dealing with the result of her feeding shortly afterwards . I thought that they would just drop the sack as they flew off , but I watched them several times fly into nearby trees , and although not certain , think that they actual ate the contents . Thinking about it , the food given to the youngsters would pass through very quickly , and would still contain a lot of goodness , meaning that the adults would not have to look for food for themselves . Sorry about that , I hope you weren't eating at the time . The male is definitely not calm and collected when he arrives at the nest hole , in fact at times he looked dead scared of what was inside . I also had a look around the rest of the Common , and spotted a male Emperor Dragonfly over the heathland area and tried to photograph it . I failed completely , the wind making him very twitchy , but whilst following him , found this immature Broad-bodied Chaser , sheltering in the low vegetation . Around one of the fire sites we used over the winter , Common Toadflax/Linaria vulgaris , a member of the Figwort family , is just starting to flower , and on the remains of last years Bramble , an immature Black-tailed Skimmer was also sheltering . The only butterflies recorded were Large and Small White and a single Small Heath .
After lunch , a quick visit to Spring Park Pond , found the pond almost without Odonata . A few Common Blue and Azure Damselflies tucked away in the vegetation , and a single male Broad-bodied Chaser , at rest with a smile on his face . Why a smile on his face ? Those two marks on the sides , half way down his abdomen , are where a female grasped him as they mated in mid-air , and removed some of the powder blue from his abdomen in doing so . In a sheltered corner , a male Large White was nectaring on Bramble flower , and a Green Hairstreak , not often recorded here , was also found . Along in the small , normally , sheltered meadow , I found a very fresh looking Small Tortoiseshell , flat down on the path . The new brood would not normally be on the wing till July , but the way this year has been going , who knows . Also found , being buffeted by the wind , a very small male Brown Argus . Over the back in the Bracken patch , I found three groups of dark caterpillars , all three in or on a silken web , and all on Common Nettle . Although still very small , I'm reasonably sure they are Peacock caterpillars , as the other species that use Common Nettle , Comma lays single eggs as does Red Admiral , and Small Tortoiseshell caterpillars are black with broken bands of yellow . Also recorded were Holly Blue and Small and Green-veined White . A couple of day flying moths were also found ,
Cinnabar moth ,and Burnet Companion , not usually found posing on Bramble .


Warren Baker said...

Large white on bramble Greenie, snap! Oh! and a Cinnabar Moth :-)

I'm really getting fed up with this wind now :-)

ShySongbird said...

Another varied and interesting post Greenie.

You really did hit gold when you found the Woodpecker's nest, lovely photos again! Hopefully it was quieter there today ;) I remember reading that some parent birds consume the faecal sacs of their young particularly the female who of course is more likely to be in need of the nutrition.

All being well there should be plenty of Peacock butterflies there judging by all those caterpillars :)

Phil said...

Great post as always Greenie and I agree with Jan, the GSW story and pics are really nice. Poor old BBC having it's sex life broadcast on the net, just like a footballer really.

Paul said...

Some nice shots there Greenie, and Ive been seeing those Burnet Companion moths too. I have yet to see a Tortoiseshell though.