Saturday, 18 June 2011

Saturday 18th. June 2011

Firstly , many thanks to Warren/Pittswood Birds for spotting yesterday's mistake . The male Warbler singing , directly after the Willow Warbler , is a Sedge not Reed Warbler , Cheers Warren .
Now that the Norfolk trip posts are finished , and with a family get together tomorrow , I'm using this post as a catch up on the last three days , on each of which , I managed to get out for a short period in between rain/showers .
Thursday afternoon , I managed an hour on the LWT site on Saltbox Hill , below Biggin Hill Airport . The two Dartmoor ponies that the grazier promised would be off site within two weeks , five weeks ago , are still there , and the chalk grassland looks like a horse paddock , which is what it has become . The ponies seem to prefer the larger fenced area , which in the past was very good for butterflies , on the day I found 1 Com.Blue , 1 Med.Brown , 1 Sm.Heath and 1 Brimstone . The area less preferred by the ponies looks much more butterfly friendly , and before the next shower arrived , I found two new species for the year , Ringlet , and Marbled White , to think I used to get counts of 250/300 of this species on site , but that was before the arrival of the ponies . Heading back to the car under threatening skies , I did manage to get a shot of Vervain/Verbena officinalis . I just made the car as the heavens opened again .
Friday morning , I had a quick walk around the Common , this time before the first rain of the day . On one of the fire sites that we used through the winter , Common Toadflax had got a good hold . Nearby , Crow Garlic/Allium vineale , a member of the Lily family will soon be flowering . Just three butterflies were recorded , but there was no shortage of Grasshoppers of all sizes . This Meadow Grasshopper was quite happy for the warmth provided by my finger .Whilst looking for any Purple Hairstreak caterpillars on the Oaks , I came across this unusual Shield Bug . After a lot of digging when I got home , I have come to the conclusion that it is the final instar , one step from emerging as an adult , of the Forest Bug/Pentatoma rifipes .
An early visit this morning was to the Farm lake . Even though very windy , the Black-tailed Skimmers were found in good numbers . These two 'in the ring' , separated shortly afterwards , and the female started ovipositing immediately , whilst the male patrolled above her . Another new species for the year when I found several newly emerged Common Darters . Once again , impossible to say male or female at this stage , but as they mature , the females will basically stay this colour , whilst the males will redden . The bad news of the visit is that I could only locate one adult Little Grebe and just one juvenile , which has grown well , but not surprising as it is getting all the food . Constant calling by this one was not repeated elsewhere on the lake , and could well be why the others were predated . Ringlets , Large Sippers and this Small White , were the only butterflies recorded , but the conditions were far from good . This Silver Y moth , a migrant from the continent was tucked down in the vegetation and didn't seem to want to move . That ground vegetation now contains large amounts of Lady's Bedstraw/Galium verum . Most of the family are white , but this species will cover the ground with yellow when in full flower .
And finally , a moth found in my garage the other morning for the man . I must admit , I thought it was the Coronet , but it isn't .


Warren Baker said...

Nice pictorial story of events Greenie.

250-300 Marbled Whites ? Blimey Ive only ever seen one - ever!!!

Rob said...

Nice composition of the Vervan Greenie. No Ringlets or Marbled Whites have crossed my path yet.

Anonymous said...

I can`t see it being anything else other than Coronet, Greenie. A very distinctive species it is.

ShySongbird said...

Interesting post as always Greenie.

I have never seen Marbled Whites in the numbers you mentioned and never managed a photo. What a shame about the habitat disturbance by the ponies.

Butterflies are worryingly absent here!

Anonymous said...

Salt Box Hill used to be good for butterflies and orchids. At least the Best slopes are not on the LWT reserve so are not grazed.

We have the Same grazing problems on a site in Croydon, where i fear the ponies will goto next, although the paddock is not ready yet.

Due to wrong grazing, we have lost most of our orchids, and Dark Green Fritillary has been practically grazed of the Reserve. Several UK BAP high priority species occur on Both Reserves, but the Old Surrey Downs and London Wildlife Trust would rather manage it just for Common Blue. We Still had sheep grazing well into May, when Spring grazing is listed as Harmful in all the BAP documents, although we have wardened the site for the last 25 years, to the benefit of the butterflies and orchids, since the grazing, the flora has gone and with it the high butterfly counts. It Seems Old Surrey Downs Project will not listen to the advice from experts like Natural England and other organisations and local experts. The Small Blue Transect count on our site mentioned higher up the photos is at 262 as of 24th June, but luckily most of the areas are outside the grazing paddocks.