Sunday, 24 August 2014

Sunday 24th. August 2014

Thursday morning , I returned to the meadow below Biggin Hill airport with sunnier skies , but still with the strong wind blowing across the slope . I didn't see as many Clouded Yellows , just 3/4 on the visit , but the sunshine gave longer views than those of the previous afternoon . As anyone will know who has chased CYs , it's better than a morning at the gym , but worth the effort when one flicks
open it's wings , just as the shutter is pressed , but feeding seemed to be the main aim of the
specimens , all males , seen during the visit . Also seen were a pair of Sparrowhawks , playing with the wind on the fringe of the airport , and two of the local Common Buzzards that drifted overhead ,
no doubt searching for their breakfast . With just the 100mm. macro lens on , the shots had to be
heavily cropped . On Friday , I did the High Elms butterfly transect in reasonable conditions , and was surprised to record 15 species , and a total of 145 butterflies . But , taking out Common Blue , Meadow Brown and Brown Argus , a total of 111, the other 12 species only produced 34 butterflies
between them . The sunny spells brought Brimstones out to nectar , and Silver-washed Fritillaries ,
down to 4 , all females , and time has caught up with them too , they will probably have finished on the next transect . Down in the bottom glade , butterfly numbers might have been down , but Odonata numbers were definitely up , with 30/35 Migrant and 2 Brown Hawkers filling the air space , and making short work of anything that flew up into it . On the bridleway through the golf course , on the way back to the car , a Pigmy Shrew nipped across the path in front of me . A quick look at the House Martin nests on the farmhouse showed most had headed South , but there were still 3/4 birds feeding overhead . Yesterday , a quick look at Bough Beech Reservoir revealed even less waders around with no sign of the Black-tailed Godwit , and just 3 Green Sandpipers and a single Common Snipe seen from the causeway . I then moved on to the reserve with the feeders in the wood , where the flora was
a sight to behold . Lots of Common Fleabane / Pulicaria dysenterica , a member of the Daisy family ,
interspersed with my favourite Scabious , Devilsbit / Succisa pratensis , a member of the Teasle family . The best surprise was finding a few specimens of Sneezewort / Achillea ptarmica , another
member of the Daisy family , and a species that I see very rarely these days . 8 species of butterfly ,
once again , all in small numbers were recorded , they included Red Admiral and Comma , both
found feeding on the ripe blackberries . Whilst on site , 3 Grass Snakes were found , two juveniles
together , and this adult , found with a Slow Worm . The opaque film on the snake's eye indicating that it is about to slough , change it's skin . Several Southern Hawkers were on the wing during sunny
periods , like this one , all but one were immatures . A couple of Brown Hawkers who refused to stop
for the camera , and a few Ruddy Darter , completed the Odonata sightings . With the cloud thickening , I left for home , having really enjoyed my time on site .
This morning , with cloud due in by lunchtime , I spent a couple of hours wandering around up on the Common . First find was the remains of a dragonfly , regarded as towards the top of the insect foodchain , but this one obviously met it's match , snared in a spider's web , and eaten by the
occupant . In the sunshine , something shone like a jewel on the leaf of a Buckthorn . I have no idea
what had emerged from them , about 2mm in length , but it's the first time I've come across anything
like them . On the small Oak to the right , one of our smallest Ladybirds , with almost the largest number of spots of any of them , the 22-spot Ladybird / Psyllobora 22-punctata . Most of the Gorse on the Common is not in flower at the moment , but amongst the Heather , the low growing Dwarf
Gorse / Ulex minor is taking it's opportunity to do so before it's larger relative . And finally , with the
butterfly season coming to a close , as demonstrated by this very faded Common Blue , some , like
this pair of Green-veined Whites think there is still time to get the job done .


Warren Baker said...

Odonata just about finished here Greenie certainly the Zygoptera have gone. Down to a few Hawker species now, plus the Common darters.

Phil said...

I've still only seen two CY's this year Greenie. The Common Blues seen along the river yesterday were in similar condition to your one. The butterfly season is indeed drawing to a close, thankfully still a few dragonflies to keep the interest.
Still a few Swifts passing through at West Farleigh today along with hundreds of Hirundines.

Peter Hunt said...

Enjoyed browsing your blog.very nice photos too.