No let up in that wind today , and early on the cloud cover was thick too . Regardless , I decided to do the Down House bird survey this morning , calling in on the Great Spotted Woodpeckers on the Common on the way . At the nest site , I could hear an adult calling , but no sign of movement or sound from the hole . Eventually the male arrived with food , which started calls from within the nest hole , but I think there was just a single youngster at home . During the half hour I was there , the female never showed , and the male only searched for food in the trees surrounding the nest . I think the female had encouraged the other youngster out of the nest , and was feeding it elsewhere , leaving the male to do the same with the other one . I fully expect the nest to be empty next visit .
Arriving at Down House , the wind was even stronger , being high up , but it also meant that the cloud cover was broken up and some pleasant sunshine followed . It was very slow to begin with , especially as calls were lost in the rustle of the trees , so once again , it became a double survey , with butterflies being recorded as well .The first butterfly found , was also the tattiest one found . a Small Copper that had definitely seen better days . All of the species seen were well worn , but , with two more broods hopefully to come , one mid July/August and the other late September/November , it won't be the last we see of them . Nine Meadow Browns were recorded , this male being one of them , but many more were probably sheltering down in the long grass . Another male found was this Brown Argus , identified as a male by the 'blueing' on the abdomen , and the orange spots fading out as they reach the leading edge of the forewing . A distraction was a plank of wood on the side of the large meadow , and underneath two Slow Worms . Both male and female Large Skipper were also found in the same meadow , the female having just the mottling on the wing , whereas the male of the species , and that of all the 'Golden Skippers' , carries a distinctive dark line , also known as a sex brand , on the top of it's forewing .
Common Blue , Small Heath and Large White were also recorded , then , a flash of orange , carried on the wind , as it lifted from the long grass . A short chase ensued , and my first Dark Green Fritillary of the year was in the book . A species of downland , it gets it's name from the distinctive green wash on the underwing . This means that a visit to Lullingstone Country Park will be on the cards in the near future .
Birds were being recorded as well , and two hirondine species were amongst them , Swift and Swallow , but apart from those and Bullfinch and Yellowhammer , nothing madly exciting .
But , that couldn't be said as I crossed the stile from the Cricket Field into one of the small meadows . The area adjoining the Sandwalk Woodland proved to be a sun trap and also sheltered from the worst of the wind . The grass at the woodland end was very long , and as I moved in that direction , a doe Roe Deer and a fawn strolled out from the bushes and started grazing . I still had the macro lens on for the butterflies , so dropped on one knee , and as quickly as I could , changed to the large lens . When I looked up again the pair were still there . I fixed the camera and lens onto the tripod and gingerly stood up . I managed 4 shots before the doe spotted me , and with a call , the two of them legged it back into cover . I'm pretty sure that this is the animal that I photographed last month , that was seen to be carrying young . I felt well chuffed that I had managed to get those shots and carried on . A Red Admiral was my next target but once again I had the wrong lens on . It was on the Dock leaves , top left of the shot , but then flew down and right . I was too near , but then noticed those white spots in the background . I once again quickly changed lens , and managed a single shot of another fawn , lying quietly in the long grass , just a couple of metres away . With that , the doe appeared again , and gave a call , and the fawn leapt up from it's hiding place , raced to it's mum , and they both disappeared into the cover of the woodland , a truly magical moment . Still shaking with what had just happened , I spotted a small bird land on one of the outer branches of the woodland trees , and with binoculars , made out a juvenile Nuthatch . Once again , the wrong lens was on the camera , so I just moved towards the bird , thinking it would fly . It didn't , so I stopped and changed lens again and set up the tripod . It looked like this youngster had been 'parked up' , whilst the parents searched for food . It was quite unperturbed by my presence , and had a long preening session . I even managed to move for a better shot , and it was funny watching the youngster asking for food from any bird flying by . I had hoped the parents would return and feed it where it was , but a call from deeper in the woodland , and the youngster was off .
Things quietened down after that , with just Speckled Wood being added to make it 10 butterfly species on the visit .One flower made it to the camera today , Corn Cockle/Agrostemma githago , a member of the Pink family , once found on almost every cornfield .
The bird survey ended up with a very respectable , for the site , 25 , which made the visit even better .
Returning home , the butterfly day list went up one , when this very fresh Small Tortoiseshell stopped for it's lunch on Carol's Pansies on the patio , whilst we were having ours .