Better weather wise this morning , but there was still a strong breeze blowing . I think it will be the most remembered part of the weather this year . Anyway , I was out early to make the most of the sunshine , deciding to check out High Elms before Kent Butterfly Conservation turn up for their visit on Sunday . I did make a quick stop at the Farm lake , but there wasn't much new there , apart from one of the Mallard ducklings missing , with just four left . Two laps around the lake produced little apart from 3 Common Blue butterflies , a male and female pictured warming up in the sun . Three Gatekeeper and a single faded Ringlet were the only other species recorded .
Moving on , I hoped that High Elms would be more productive , but my main concern were the Silver-washed Fritillaries which are the main target on Sunday and if Whiteletter Hairstreak were to put in an appearance , I would be well pleased . Being earlier than usual , the glades on the way to Burnt Gorse were only just starting to be bathed in sunlight and the Buddleia bushes were the same , but several Red Admirals were swooping down from the already sunlight trees to nectar quickly before returning upwards again . I breathed a sigh of relief when I reached Burnt Gorse and found a few SWFs . The males have lost the vibrant colour of emergence , but understandable given that they have been on the wing for 4 weeks now . The females , having emerged duller than the males , are showing wing damage too , and this one unusually showing a greenish aberration on the hindwings . A couple of plants have come into flower since my last visit , one being Ploughman's Spikenard/Inula conyza , a member of the Daisy family , and the other Red Bartsia/Odontites verna , a semi-parasitic , and a member of the Figwort family . Whilst happy with the SWFs , even though they are in much fewer number this year , I couldn't find any sign of the White-letter Hairstreaks , even though their favourite nectar source , the Hemp Agrimony flowers have started to open in the area of the Orchid Bank . Whilst searching , a large hawker sized dragonfly caught my eye , but disappeared a couple of times without me seeing where it settled . Third time lucky , I saw it settle in a small bush some way off . I slowly approached it , and was able to identify it as an immature male Southern Hawker . I took one more step closer after taking that shot , and you can guess the outcome . With clouds starting to win , I headed for the glade down near where the large stand of Bird's-nest Orchids were earlier in the year . Straight away I found three more SWFs , two of them in courting mode , but unfortunately disappeared over the trees to court in private . A male Brown Hawker was patrolling the glade , but I never found where he settled when he disappeared from view , but I did find at least 5 White-letter Hairstreaks , all of them nectaring on Canadian Golden-Rod/Solidago canadensis , as it's name implies , an introduced species . It must be good stuff , as they didn't seem interested in any other flowers . I just hope they stay in the glade , at least until Sunday . I started heading back to the car , and on the way found some Broad-leaved Helleborines/Epipactis helleborine , a member of the Orchid family ,almost in full flower . Which reminds me , I must get up and have a look at the ones up on the Common . I purposely retraced my steps past the Buddleia bushes to the car park , and was pleased that I did , as by now the sun , when out , was streaming into the glades , and several species were competing for the best blooms :Silver-washed Fritillary and Red Admiral ,Red Admiral and Peacock , 2 very smart Red Admirals .Peacock and male and female SWFs .
Nothing else I can do now , just keep everything crossed for Sunday .