Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Tuesday 8th. July 2014

The most recent bird survey at Down House produced 18 species , the best being Yellowhammer and Sparrowhawk , along with a Roe doe in the long grass in the large meadow that I came across almost accidentally , giving no chance of a picture . Fortunately the Violent Helleborines can't run away ,
and 6 flowering spikes were found . Hopefully they will escape the browsing of the deer . I stopped off at High Elms on the way back , still no sign of White-letter Hairstreak and Silver-washed Fritillary numbers were slightly up , but no White Admiral sighting this time . Hope things improve for Kent Butterfly Conservation's visit the weekend after next . In the bottom glade I watched a
female Small Skipper carefully choose a specimen of Yorkshire Fog grass , before laying a batch of
eggs , then re-fuelling on Red Clover before laying the next batch .
Still making early morning visits on the Common for Purple Hairstreak , but these too are still to be
found . The visits did produce my first local Gatekeeper , along with a female Silver-washed
Fritillary , still tucked up with a male Meadow Brown , enough said on that subject , and a nice fresh
Comma . The Brambles might not have produced the hoped for PHs , but they were crawling with grasshoppers and crickets , in various stages of development . Roesel's Bush-Cricket seemed to be the
most advanced , identified by the cream/green edging to it's pronotum . Whereas the Meadow
Grasshopper ( on the left  and the Conehead , unsure if it is Long or Short Winged at this stage , still have a lot of growing to do to catch up .
This morning I made a visit to Sevenoaks Reserve , starting in sunshine , but with cloud rolling in .
From Willow Hide , the Great Crested Grebes are down to just one youngster , mind you , it was
making enough noise for two , constantly calling for food , which the male seemed to be supplying in a constant stream .Lots of Canada and Greylag Geese doing their morning ablutions , and over on the
island , a Little Egret that was doing it's exercises , starting on the parallel bars , before hopping up to
the high bar amongst the Willow branches . Even the Odonata was in short supply , a couple of male Emperor Dragonflies , a male Brown Hawker , a few Banded Demoiselles , the males showing the
damage from aerial battles . Whilst looking for Small Red-eyed Damselfies , which I didn't find , from the last fishing swim on Long Lake , I got the feeling that I was being watched , and on turning
round , found this 'imported killer' coming towards me along the concrete path , an American Mink .
I had no time to change settings , but just pointed the lens and fired off a few shots , before it disappeared into the bankside vegetation . I couldn't even back off , or I , and the camera would have finished up in Long Lake . Over the other side of the site , the only interest I found was a possible
leucistic Greylag Goose , but I kept thinking it might have something to do with the white goose that I have seen several times on site . On getting back to the car park , I mentioned the Mink at the Visitor Centre , and was surprised that they are only allowed to monitor rather than trap the species at this time of year , while it decimates unknown numbers of breeding native birds and wildfowl .


Warren Baker said...

Wouldn't want to annoy one of those 'Violent' Helleborines Greenie.

I'm also still waiting for a PH to come down from the Oaks :-)

Derek Faulkner said...

Apparently they have the same rules concerning Mink at Oare nature reserve. They don't trap and cull Mink during the breeding season in case the trapped animal has lactating young somewhere - clearly rearing new young Mink is more important than preserving the wildlife that they feed on.