Sunday, 10 July 2011

Sunday 10th. July 2011

A quick look in at the Farm lake proved far from exciting first thing this morning . Just the six Coots , the Moorhen adults , their nesting must have failed , and a single female Mallard was all that was to be found . Butterflies did little better with just a very fresh single female Brown Argus , pictured , a Meadow Brown and 4 Ringlets being recorded . Still plenty of Black-tailed Skimmer action , with several pairs mating on the wing and at least two females ovipositing . Here , one of the females in the process of dipping her abdomen into the water and releasing an egg . The ripples behind are from previous eggs deposited . Very soon after this shot , she was again grabbed by a male , mated in flight , and was back ovipositing again , whilst the male patrolled in the close vicinity . Plenty of newly emerged Common Darters , but still haven't found a male turning red on the abdomen . Damselflies were represented mainly by Blue-tailed and the odd Azure . Just two male Emperors were recorded and even between the two of them , they couldn't agree over territories .
My second stop was at Salt Box Hill , just below Biggin Hill Airport . I think I mentioned last visit , that the SSSI site was looking like a horse paddock , and today I can confirm that it is just that . The obvious reason being that the two Dartmoor ponies , which were going to be taken off site months ago , are still there , wrecking the site . To give some idea of what the continual grazing has done to this site , the butterflies recorded today are followed in brackets by the records of 13.7.2009 . Meadow Brown 31 (53) , Ringlet 5 (82) , Small White 5 (1) , Marbled White 5 (283) , Small Skipper 1 (26) , Large Skipper 1 (1) and Large White 9 (2) . When I last spoke , lost my cool , with the grazier , he told me that the grazing would enhance the site for all species , do I need to tell you where he was talking from ? Added to this , the scrub , the majority of which has not been treated since cutting , is now growing back , and more lottery/public money will probably be begged for to remove it , again . If this had been the first time this situation had arisen , one could understand , but lottery/public money has been used at least three times to my knowledge to remove scrub from the site , probably more , but not to worry , the grazier is feeding his stock without cost , so why should he worry ? Added to this , volunteers visit the site to check on the stock for him , I spoke to one today , so the grazier wins all hands up , and forget about the species that were found on the site before he started to destroy it . I only took one shot on site , looking like cacti in the desert , the bottom end of the site is covered in Great Mullein/Verbascum thapsus , probably because the ponies don't eat this species .
Still fuming , my last stop was at the House Martin site at the old farm house . The Grey Wagtails were seen still collecting food and taking it to their nest site under the broken roof tiles , so it is a fair shot that they are on a second brood . The pair of Pieds seemed much more relaxed , as if their parenthood had finished for the year , this one chilling out and stretching on another roof . As for the House Martins , each nest seems to be at a different stage with their families . All nest seem to be active , but I concentrated on just one for these shots , which I think are self explanatory ,
Oh , and just in case you were wondering if the youngsters were house trained yet .


Warren Baker said...

Bloody disgraceful attitude from that Grazier, I get it all the time here Greenie, it gets you down sometimes :-(

Enjoyed the rest of the post though :-)

Rob said...

I echo Warren's comment on the pony situation Greenie - what a ridiculous situation.
Love that shot of the Black-tailed Skimmer leaving the trail of ripples.

Phil and Mandy said...

thanks for your assistance in my IDs Greenie, it is much appreciated. Lovely house martin shots.

Alan Pavey said...

Some things do leave you stuck for words! it is incredible that the site is SSSI, with so little thought on how to manage it.
Like the Black Tailed Skimmers, dragonflies in flight, I've not tried that yet, thinking it was probably near impossible!! :-)

ShySongbird said...

I don't quite understand how a site which has been designated as SSSI is allowed to be abused in this way Greenie. Have you thought of approaching 'Natural England' and making an official complaint and giving them the figures you gave us? Surely lottery money cannot be used when the site is being so badly mismanaged, the figures for the Marbled White show just how badly! I can totally understand your anger and frustration!

Anyway, good to see the House Martins are doing well.

I am struggling to keep up with blogging at the moment so missed commenting on the previous post :( but thank you for the mention, I'm pleased I got one right!! Good to see all the butterflies on that post and lovely photos of them. I have never known a year with so few butterflies here. A visit to a favourite place for them yesterday produced... none! I have seen Holly Blues in the garden (we Have both Holly and Ivy which helps)and the odd Small Tortoiseshell but that's about it! Also good to read the Bee Orchids are doing well.

Anonymous said...

The Grazing Project is due to close [at long last] in 2012. Comments can be sent to the following address, they wanted these to save the projects, but im sure people wishing to end the projects, due to the destroying that has occured at Salt-Box Hill and Hutchinsons & Chapel Banks can comment, and hopefully they will get closed.
The Project Being "Old Surrey Downs & Downlands Projects"

“Countryside Service PVR and SCC as Hosts”
Linda McMahon, Surrey County Council
Countryside Service, Room 365, County Hall
Penrhyn Road, Kingston upon Thames. KT1 2DN