Friday, 6 July 2012

Thursday 5th. July 2012

Firstly , a quick catch up on yesterday , when I spent two and a half hours searching the likely glades that would hold the butterflies that Kent Butterfly Conservation members would hope to see at High Elms on the 22nd . Those species were White Admiral , Silver-washed Fritillary and White-lettered Hairstreak , and I did not find a single specimen of any of those species . In fact , I only found 6 species , Skipper (S4,L3) ,Speckled Wood (2) , Meadow Brown (35+) , Ringlet (7) and a single Comma , the first seen for weeks . With things this bad this year , what is going to happen next ? One
species that will probably show up is Meadow Brown , after finding a mating pair in one of the glades . Other insects are in short supply too , but a few Green-legged Sawflies / Tenthredo
mesomelas were recorded .
This morning , following 'information recieved' , I had arranged to meet Kent Butterfly Recorder Mike Easterbrook , to see a plant that I had never seen before , on a Local Nature Reserve , Ditton Quarry , not far from East Malling . We went straight for the Yellow Bartsia / Parentucellia viscosa , 
and thankfully it was still there , as Mike had only found a single specimen . Like it's much more common Red relation , it is  semi-parasitic , and like it's relation , the flower is two lipped  the upper
lip hooded and the lower , 3-lobed . Truly a special little plant , and as I say , a first for me . We did have a good look around the area that it was found in , but did not find any others . But , whilst doing so , I spotted a small black and yellow insect , flying low amongst the vegetation . It looked different , so I kept an eye on it , and eventually it settled . I thought that it might be a Belted
Clearwing moth , but couldn't go any further . When I got home and did a search , it turns out to be a Six-belted Clearwing moth , the six referring to the six yellow , or maybe the black , belts around it's abdomen . Mike then gave me a tour of the reserve , a tour that I really enjoyed , and I must say that
the site is a credit to Mike and the other volunteers that give their time . This was one area , ablaze with Musk Mallow , Viper's Bugloss and Dark Mullein , and not far away were Bee and Pyramidal
Orchids . The Dark Mullein / Verbascum nigrum , being particularly striking , with it's yellow flowers , purple hairs on it's stamens and each stamen topped off with orange . One of the smaller
flowers found was Biting Stonecrop /  Sedum acre , producing a yellow cushion on the ground . Along with many more species found , one with a 'Common' part to it's name , but I don't see it all
that often , Common Cudweed / Filago vulgaris . After a most enjoyable look around the site , which like other sites did not produce the expected numbers of butterflies , a big thank you to Mike for the tour and the Yellow Bartsia , and I was on my way to Dene Park near Warren's Pittswood , to see if I could find an early Purple Emperor . Unfortunately the cloud cover was much thicker on my arrival , and it was cooler than the quarry too , but I set off towards the master tree . At the first triangle , another chap with a camera was searching the Brambles , 'any luck ?' I asked . As we chatted , he obviously recognised me , and he turned out to be fellow enthusiast Mike Hook , whom I had met once down at Oare Marshes . We were both there for the same species , so we teamed up to go in search of them . The expected Meadow Browns , Ringlets , Large Skippers and Commas were
showing in small numbers , before the first target species appeared , White Admiral , but they too were is small numbers , with not more than 7/8 specimens seen , and they were mostly flying high amongst the trees . The area around the PE 'master tree' was very quiet as was the area where Mike had had a male on the ground , last year I believe . I thought I had seen a SWF at one point , but , with not getting another sighting , could not be sure of the ID . I also had a butterfly fly out of the master tree , but couldn't be sure of the species as it flew out of view almost immediately . Things were not going to plan , but we kept on the move hoping that things would change . Of interest , one
of the most common species on the wing were the hoverfly Volucella pellucens , the one with the white cummerbund . We were joined at lunchtime back at the cars by a pristine looking Red Admiral ,
but that wasn't what we were looking for . The cloud did start to break up after lunch , but it sadly didn't make any difference to the sightings , in fact the seemed to go down as the temperature went up . Whilst searching the Brambles , Mike came across this Nursery Web Spider , presumably a
female , clutching her precious egg sack . I left Mike searching the grassy area around the car park , hope you turned up something good . It was good to meet up and catch up , and thanks for your company on the visit , just a shame that two sets of eyes still couldn't produce a PE .
And finally , three specimens that I could do with some help with please .
Very small , could be a nymph of a Pied Shieldbug ? After more digging , still sticking with original ID .
Also very small , too small to be a Ladybird . Even though only about 2mm , I have to agree with Phil / Sharp by Nature with his ID of  24-spot Ladybird / Subcoccinella 24-punctata . Cheers Phil .
Possibly of the Ichneumon family ? With more digging on this one too , still staying with Ichneumons , possibly Netelia sp , but as always , stand to be corrected on any of these .


Phil said...

Ditton quarry, haven't been there for a while Greenie. My father in law and his father were both quarrymen there in the past and East Malling was where I was bought up. Happy days.
I like your Clearwing moth, don't think i've ever seen one.
Your second unidentified bug looks very like a 24 spot ladybird, the two central fused spots look right for it.
By the way, have been to NH today but a lot of the paths are too overgrown to get round.

Mike H said...

Good to catch up with you today and to share your company,knowledge and experience. The car park area didn't hold much other than a few white legged damselfly and your friend the Red Admiral still there but on another shiney car !! Shame about the PE and the SWF missing today but an excuse to go back on another sunny day.

ShySongbird said...

Hi Greenie, I don't think I know Yellow Bartsia at all, well done on finding it. Lovely photo of the Meadow Browns and White Admiral and also the Dark Mullein is very pretty.

I too could only come up with 24 spot Ladybird although it doesn't match with the size you mentioned so I did wonder about some sort of nymph. I have a new insect book on order so hope to do better in future ;-)

Warren Baker said...

Might not be as much as there should be about greenie, but you see plenty to keep the blog interesting.

I'd settle for just the White Admiral here!

Alan Pavey said...

Well done finding the Clearwing Greenie, some really nice pics and as always a great mix of information and sightings.