Saturday, 4 August 2012

Saturday 4th. August 2012

The end of July marked the end of my fourth year of blogging , with a total of 909 postings during that time . I have always tried to cover a wide variety of wildlife interest , but even so , over the last few months , have found myself thinking 'I've mentioned this before' , and in some cases 'I've mentioned that more than once before' . And , if I am thinking that , the reader must be doing the same . Coupled to that , I seem to be once again living most of my home time in front of this computer , either writing a new blog or trying to catch up with processing the pictures taken whilst out , which seem to be mounting up at an alarming rate .So after last Sunday's post , I have used this week as an experiment , still going out doing my butterfly and reptile surveys and taking photographs , but then looking at how much new interest had been captured , and to be totally honest , the answer has been , not a lot . Don't get me wrong , I've taken hundreds of photographs this week , many of which will replace older , not so good ones in my folders , but most were of subjects that I have covered before , some , as I have said , more than once .
So , what conclusions have I come to after my week of experiment ? I feel sure that to carry on as before , posting on a regular basis , covering the same subjects is not for me , or for the reader . I think the way forward is to continue posting , but on an 'as and when' basis , when , over a period of days , hopefully some fresh interest , or something of new interest on a covered subject is found . It will probably be a bit disjointed , but I hope interest will be maintained ., so here goes with the 'first post of the rest of this blog' .
A visit to Salt Box Hill , below Biggin Hill Airport , the home last year of the Dartmoor ponies , proved very disappointing , as a herd of goats have now taken their place , and although the conditions were not good , very few butterflies were recorded .
Another visit to High Elms in search of White-letter Hairstreak failed to find any , again . The Silver-washed Fritillary numbers seem to be static now , so it's fingers crossed that enough of eggs will be
layed , like this one on the craggy bark of a Scots Pine , to ensure that the species will fly again next
 year . Also found on the visit was a froghopper which I think is Philaenus spumarius , I wonder if it is related to , no couldn't be . The strangest sighting was a sluggish flying black and yellow insect , seen whilst watching the SWFs egg laying . It wasn't until I got home that I realised that it was not
one but two insects , neither of which have I managed to identify . Many thanks to Rob / The Living Isle , for identifying the top insect as Ectemnius sp. / Square-headed Wasp . When I Googled the species there were several shots of the Wasps in flight , carrying what looked like similar hoverflies .
The location was good too as it was hovering around a rotten log , ideal nest site for the species . Cheers Rob . From what I can make out , the lower insect is a hoverfly type going by the eyes and abdomen colours . My search for the upper species has centred on Conopidae sp. and Chryosotoxum sp. , but can't find a match , yet .
Better weather the following day , so I did the High Elms butterfly transect , the highlight of which
was recording a Chalkhill Blue , this male being the only record for the site that I know of . The downside is that the site doesn't support Horseshoe Vetch , the foodplant of the species , so there is no chance of a colony being set up . Only other interest was a large black beetle , motionless on some
Yarrow flower . It's shape and colour said ground beetle , usually found under logs and the like , and after going through the book that is what I think it is , Amara aulica , all black with brown antennae appears to fit the bill .
A trip to Sevenoaks Reserve was also disappointing , apart from two flyby Kingfisher sightings .
A windy day up on the Downs was more productive , with 13 Adders , many like the darker male above , showing from the bluing of the eye that it was coming up to slough , shed it's skin ,  1 Grass Snake and 32 Slow Worms being recorded . The Autumn Gentian / Gentianella amarella , which was
in tight bud on the last visit , is now in flower , as the the well named Dwarf Thistle / Cirsium
dissectum . The butterfly survey was very difficult in the very windy conditions , as the majority were tucked down amongst the ground vegetation , but the Chalkhill Blues were very well represented again , and the brief sighting of a fresh looking Dark Green Fritillary being blown past me on that
wind , was a good sighting . A pair of Robber Flies / Asilidae sp. took no notice of me or the camera , too intent on their own agenda , with quite a size difference between male and female . And finally , under a piece of wood , I found a couple of very well named Burying or Sexton Beetles / Nicrophorus
sp. . They were in the process of burying a dead Slow Worm . Mainly nocturnal and locating their body by smell , it was intriguing watching them digging away underneath the Slow Worm , and it slowly getting lower and lower into the ground .


Phil said...

I know how you feel Greenie. I've struggled a bit lately and i've only been blogging a couple of years.
I think you are probably wrong about readers' interest waning though. Every blog i've seen duplicates to a lesser or greater extent. Regular readers accept it and just like to read and see pictures of things that they already find interesting and to new readers it's all fresh anyway.
Having said all that, the old saying that sometimes less is more, does sometimes hold water.
Keep on blogging, and if there's a gap of a few days it'll keep us eager to catch up with your latest exploits!
In the meantime i've got to HOP it:-)

Warren Baker said...

There's always someone out there who is knew to all this Wildlifing Greenie, and your blog is one of the most useful :-)

It can become a bit ''samey'' I feel that with my blog at times, but I do like to look back into past years and see to the day what was going on :-)

I hope you carry on posting with all your specific site surveys, you have built up some good info on those.

Rob said...

Hi Greenie,

Your sluggish black-and-yellow beastie might be a digger wasp Ectemnius sp. I noticed them in the garden for the first time this year.

No one provides a better round-up of the interesting stuff that's about than your good self - hang in there!

Mike H said...

Hi Greenie,

I can fully understand how you feel trapped and tied to your computer I don't have a blog only a photo site and that takes enough time.

I am glad that you will be continueing albeit on a less frequent basis and like others i find your blog and content one of the more informative and interesting so do please caryy on . I for one will check in daily just to see if there is anything new.

ShySongbird said...

Hi Greenie. A bit of a shock to start with as I feared you were going to say you were giving up altogether :-( I can completely understand your decision. I really don't know how some of the more prolific bloggers manage to post so often. It really can be a full time job! Congratulations on your four years of excellent, informative posts and I hope there are many more posts to come even if not so regularly.

Anyway, another interesting post. Good to see the Chalkhill Blue and how fascinating to see the Sexton Beetle, Nature's own grave diggers...amazing!

Spock said...

I had a Male Chalkhill Blue on the Hutchinsons Bank transect last week, with 2 males also recorded in 2010, we also dont have any Horseshoe Vetch at the moment. The Butterflies may be leaving the unsuitable Saltbox Hill, looking for new areas to live.

The colony at Riddlesdown is too big for the availible Horseshoe Vetch, so they may be using an unknown alternative fooodplant instead.

Sophie said...

Hi Greenie,

Sorry to leave this message as a comment but I couldn't see how to send a private message.
I am contacting you because there is a local project/conservation campaign no more than 5 miles away from West Wickham that requires an informal ecological survey on an small area of grassland, woodland and hedgerow that is under threat. I am a university biology student and I have agreed to help the good cause, however I am unfortunately not a wild life expert and am looking for a local knowledgeable person to answer a few questions. I would greatly welcome the opportunity to speak with you and get your opinion or simply hear about the wildlife you have observed in the area.
As this wildlife report has to be completed and submitted by the 14th August I would be very grateful if you could contact me at your earliest convenience.
Many thanks :)

Rod said...

Interesting correlation of the chalk hill blue vagrant - mine was here at Elmfield on the 1.8.2011.

Similar pattern for the marbled white near Oakley Road last week - both butterflies well out of their normal habitats.

Pleased to see you recorded the white letter hairstreak at HE. Since speaking to you, I have been very much more aware of the numerous elm suckers than before at the Rookery, so hope yet of the white letter here.

jersey tiger in Bromley North/Downham 10th