I set of this morning in the hope of finding three gems , all emeralds , and headed for the marshes between the town of Cliffe in NW Kent and the Thames estuary . I arrived at the car park and started the long , warm walk out to the area where the three gems might be found . Little did I know at the time that I could have driven in from the other end . The amount of Buddleia flowers on the way was incredible , but unfortunately to was the lack of butterflies , perhaps when things get hotter I thought . One of the few I did see was this Red Admiral along the track . I found the small track off the main one and started searching . Half an hour produced lots of newly emerged Common and Ruddy Darters , a few Blue-tailed Damselflies , but no gems . Two guys arrived in a car , one had been to the site last year and knew that it was possible to drive there . I must admit I was glad to see someone else , as I was starting to doubt if I was in the right place . Now we had three pairs of eyes searching . The odd damselfly was found still roosting amongst the vegetation , and it was quite some time before the first gem , a male Emerald Damselfly/Lestes sponsa was photographed , but the sightings were few and far between . Sightings were abandoned at one point , whilst a Cleg-fly/Tabanus bromius flew into the vegetation , and we were all very keen not to get bitten by this bruiser . As it got warmer , the Odonata increased a bit , with a couple of Emperor Dragonflies passing through , lots more Ruddy Darters , male pictured , and further along the ditch , more Emeralds . Eventually , the second gem was photographed , a male Scarce Emerald Damselfly/Lestes dryas , looking very similar to the Emerald Damselfly , but the pruinescence , the bluing on the abdomen behind the thorax , only covers one and a half segments , whereas on the Emerald Damselfly it covers the whole of the first two segments . The claspers of the two species are also different . All that was needed now was the rarest of the three gems , the Southern Emerald Damselfly/Lestes barbarus . Well , we walked up and down the ditches for ages , but in the end , we gave up , well , best number possible to see was 10 , and the area is massive , so as Meatloaf said 'Two out of three ain't bad' . One of the guys did spot a Caddis Fly , just after it had emerged and walked up some vegetation , but it still needed to remove the case from which it had emerged before it could take to the wing . I left first , having to retrace my steps back to the car park , and after finding quite a few Cinnabar caterpillars on the Ragwort , found an adult , in the shade of a Bramble bush . Along with the Buddleia , there were great swathes of Goat's Rue/Galega officinalis . I had hoped all day that a Clouded Yellow or Painted Lady might be found , and just before reaching the car park , the latter was seen several times , but never stopped for a shot .
As I was almost passing , I stopped off at White Hill , the Butterfly Conservation site managed specifically for the Chalkhill Blue . Having found one on a nearby site over a week ago , I thought it would be bouncing , but in all I only found 8/10 specimens , all males . One of that number was a newly emerged individual , and was up for the finger . Like High Elms , just one 6 spot Burnet moth was found , but in amongst the few butterflies on view was this male Banded Demoiselle , which was willing to pose for a shot . Just before leaving the site I found this smallish black beetle on a leaf of Dogwood/Cornus . I've had a quick look , but haven't found it yet , any help would be appreciated .
Three days volunteering this week , getting things ready for the Detling Show .