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 .