Friday, 5 July 2013

Friday 5th. July 2013

Made an early start to get to Lullingstone before it got too hot , when the Dark Green Fritillaries would be jet propelled . I arrived about 0830 , hoping that more males and hopefully a few females would have emerged , after just 2/3 specimens on my last visit . Well the timing was good , as I
seemed to catch the males at breakfast , nectaring on the Greater Knapweed and Field Scabious .
Although the winds were light , the bank that the DGFs like is always more windy , and so it was today . There were obviously more DGFs on the wing , but I had expected more , and after a couple of laps around the bank , I didn't see a single female . I did find a recently emerged male that gave an
opportunity to show the underwing , without vegetation in the way , and was even happy to pose on
my finger , as I moved him to a more sheltered position , away from the wind . Hard to estimate numbers , but I would say 25/35 specimens , spread over the bank and the area above , another relfection of a cold Winter and wet Spring . A single Marbled White , my first sighting of the
year , whistled past and out of sight along the bridleway , and two Small Tortoiseshells were also
found nectaring on the  Knapweed . Another first of the yearwere 4 Small Skippers , all males like the one pictured . There had to be a third first , and that came in the form of a freshly emerged 6 Spot
Burnet Moth . Although looking like a 5 Spot , the spots on the 6 Spot sometimes fuse together , like the top ones in the shot above . The 5 Spot is found in the South West and Wales , and prefers damp meadows , marshes and coastal areas , as opposed to the grasslands preferred by the 6 Spot .  Other species seen were Common Blue , Small Heath , Meadow Brown and Ringlet . After a couple of hours , and no mating pair opportunities , I made my way down to the river to cool off , looking for Odonata , only to find three dogs swimming and charging up and down the bank , and very few
Odonata . I did eventually get a male Banded Demoiselle into the viewfinder , but had to go into the
adjoining arable field to get a shot of a female . I did add Speckled Wood to the list on the way back
to the car park , along with Figwort in flower , a member of the square stemmed Labiate family . Along the road , the Green-flowered Helleborine haven't altered much , so topped up the 'Brownie points' with a bag of local Cherries for Carol , her favourite . A quick look at White Hill , managed specifically for Chalkhill Blues , didn't find any , just a couple of Brimstone , a single each of Common Blue and Brown Argus and a few Meadow Browns and Ringlets . The only flower interest
found was Yellow-wort / Blackstonia perfoliata , a member of the Gentian family , a plant that appears to grow through it's leaves . Last stop was up on the Downs , where , even with the high
temperature , 2 female and 2 male Adders were found , including this male with opaque eyes , about to slough . Another Marbled White , also a non-stopper was found , along with several Burnet Moth
cocoons , in  this one , the yellow and black caterpillar can be seen . And finally , under a piece of timber , I found a Sexton Beetle / Nicrophorus sp. (probably N.investigator) , who was in the process
of burying a dead Slow Worm . Apparently , they can smell a corpse at distance , then fly in and start their work . Once buried , the female lays her eggs in the corpse .


Warren Baker said...

Some of your best quality photo's yet Greenie :-) Is this due to the light!

Marianne said...

Brilliant photos! The fritillaries in particular are glorious.

Mike H said...

Greenie, Seems that I missed you as I didn't arrive at the CP util 11. Like you I saw lots of Frits and I managed 4 MW and got photos of 2. Saw a 6 spot and also saw that plant along the side of the river. What a shame we didn't meet up. The 2 Lizards were where you said but missed the Bee. Many thanks as always for the superb directions.

Rodney Compton said...

Great news about Lullingstone. I must say this is one of the best, if not the best blog on nature in our local area. I am indebted to 'Greenie' for his observations, especially where they are covering areas of my London Butterfly Survey that I cannot now thoroughly cover myself, namely the downland ridge both sides of the Darent, High Elms, and any of the contiguous areas. I am now based in Bromley Common, where I have been doing most of my recording (and photography) since 2000. Anyone who has records for the period of the 1990's for the areas I cover (shown on the website want to submit their records may do so through - all will be fully accredited. In the meantime, more power to "Greenie" - I wish I had your energy...

ShySongbird said...

A lovely post Greenie, beautiful photos of the DGF! Very interesting information on the Sexton Beetle, some creatures do have some delightful habits!! ;-)

roger.wood800 said...

Great post! Today (Saturday) I went to Hutchinson's Bank by Featherbed Lane and was pleased to count a Small Tortoiseshell among the butterflies I saw; later near Tatsfield I was delighted to see quite a few more!
I went to Fackenden Down the other day - the orchids there are astonishing this year: must do a return trip to see the DGFs.

Mike said...
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