Whilst battling a strong , but mild , easterly wind at RSPB Elmley yesterday , I planned today's visits . My thoughts being that that mild easterly , might just bring an odd Clouded Yellow over from the Continent , a species that I hoped might turn up yesterday , and could have , and been blown straight past me . So , with that species' favourite habitat being large fields of Clover , I headed this morning for Down House , as I could kill two birds , metaphorically speaking , with one stone , and do the bird survey , as this was also due . Unfortunately , no one let the weather know , and I arrived on site in humid but cloudy conditions , not at all conducive with Clouded Yellow requirements . Considering the fact that no Summer , or Winter visitors were recorded , a total of 19 species was quite respectable for the site , and could have been made better if Mistle or Song Thrush , Jay , Dunnock or Yellowhammer , all regularly recorded , had made it to the notebook . The Roe Deer did not let me down though , as although their rut has probably passed , mid July-mid August , I did find a female down in the bottom corner of the large meadow . I did find another female later on , but it could well have been the same individual . Whilst on site , I did record 5 butterfly species , unsurprisingly Meadow Brown being the most numerous .
Having failed to find the target species , I decided to do the High Elms butterfly transect on my way back , but also because the Conservation Field contains plenty of Clover , and my hopes were high as I set off from the Golf Club car park . Almost straight away , my thought process was rewarded , as I disturbed many Silver Y moths , immigrants from the continent from the fields , but no sign of the Clouded Yellow . 8 species were recorded over the two hour transect , and again Meadow Brown (121 - including a mating pair ) were the most numerous , but well down on the 215 , recorded on the previous transect . Other species numbers were low , with Brimstone (5 - pictured ) , Speckled Wood (8) , Common Blue (8) ,Small Copper (1 - pictured ) , Small White (7) , Green-veined White (1) and Large White (5 - pictured ) .Whist doing the survey , a Hornet , a species that seems to have had a bad year in my estimation , came bashing it's way through the vegetation , and grabbed something in front of me , and dropped to the ground with it . When I managed to catch up with it , the Hornet seemed to be tucking in to a Common Wasp , but on my arrival , took off with it's meal , to enjoy it in the tree tops . The best sighting of the visit , was at the end of the Conservation Field , when I spotted an orange flash by the side of the path . I followed it for some time before getting a proper sighting , but when I did , it turned out to be a Hummingbird Hawkmoth , another immigrant from the Continent . It then proceeded to lead me a merry chase over that area of the field , but , for once , it was not in a hurry to leave , fuelling up on the Black Knapweed flowers . I managed a good number of shots , but understandably , many were blurred and useless . But , several turned out OK , showing well the long proboscis which makes photography of the species so difficult , as it never stops to feed , nectaring on the wing , just like it's namesake .
A last minute decision had me visiting the Farm lake , just before arriving home . A Grey Heron and three Mallard were the only addition to the two adult Coots , who seem to have driven off their offspring , as they usually do , and the three Moorhens . Two Migrant Hawker males , a male Brown Hawker and a few Common Darter were the only Odonata seen , until just before I left the lake , when two Damselflies flew by in tandem , the first I had seen at the site for some time . They turned out to be a pair of Small Red-eyed Damselflies , and once landed , proceeded to get into the 'ring' or 'wheel' position , to enable the female , behind , to take the male's sperm sack and fertilise her eggs . Before I left the lake , I watched the pair fly in tandem out onto the lake , and start laying eggs on the mats of blanket weed . Hopefully , I'll see their offspring next Summer .
Tomorrow is the first outing of the new hedgelaying season with the Surrey Group . And the expected temperature in the afternoon , 27C . Happy days .