Sunday, 19 April 2015

Sunday 19th. April 2015

With the first female Adders emerging up on the Greensand Ridge , I started wondering if I would be treated to the 'dance of the Adders' again this year . To my surprise , when I visited last Saturday , one
of the females was already mating with the only 'silverback' male that I had found on the site . I
visited again on the Sunday , but found everything quiet , the female sunning herself and looking very
satisfied with the situation , the male more mobile , being found in three different places on the visit , but seemingly with no tension between himself and other males who hadn't donned their 'silverback'
status . I did find a second 'silverback' male , but he was a good distance from the first , probably searching for a female of his own . Since then , the whole race to breed seems to have stumbled to a halt .
The second full butterfly transect at High Elms LNR proved a slight improvement on the first , but still not requiring a pencil re-sharpen , but did add Orange Tip and Small White , the first non-over wintering species found on site . On the way back home , a visit up on the Common found what must have been a mass emergence of Green Tiger Beetles . Usually I find 1 or 2  on a visit at this time of year , but this time they seemed to fly up in front with almost every step taken . I even found a pair
making sure that the species will be around next year too . On the bottom lane , the Rookery contains
10 nests this year , a steady increase , and on the wires , the first returning Swallow was found .
A visit to Hutchinson's Bank , just over the border in Surrey , in search of more Orange Tips , failed ,
but it did produce an early Green Hairstreak , which was most unexpected . A male Holly Blue was also found , but refused to get into the viewfinder . Less shy were several pairs of Brimstone ,
performing their 'aerial ballet' courtship routine , here the male below the female . When I got home , Carol had had a Holly Blue in the garden .
An amphibian survey with fellow volunteer Marcus in his local Country Park , produced 9 Great Crested Newt ( 6M ) , 17 Smooth/Common Newt (2M) and a single male Palmate Newt . With the lack of rain this Spring , the pond level was well down , which meant that the surrounding log piles , which produced good numbers of all 3 species on last year's visits , had dried out and were not being used by the newts , so all were found by netting . It's a privilege to help Marcus , who has a licence to handle these protected animals , and to get the opportunity to see the animals close up . The male in
this shot , on the left with the white tail stripe is about 10 cms. in length and the female slightly longer . Along with dragonfly and damselfly nymphs , several Caddisfly larvae in their decorated
homes , were also found .
With news from Phil/Sharp by Nature and Alan/Snodland and Surrounding  Area that the first Nightingales had arrived back at New Hythe , I couldn't wait to make a visit , but even though Phil had mentioned that there was work going on on site , I wasn't expecting to find the carnage that I found on my arrival . A new water supply for the surrounding area is being put in , right across the Country Park , but it looked more like a motorway was being constructed , with a great swathe of Nightingale territory having been torn up , and , the managers deciding to remove most of the vegetation from the Water Vole's favoured ditch at the same time . I heard a few Nightingales in the
distance , but it was a Common Whitethroat that was first to pose . In the same area I spotted another
one , this time collecting nesting materials alongside the Water Vole ditch . Down by the diver's bridge , a few ripples gave away a Water Vole amongst the little emergent vegetation that had been
left , which eventually swam out to the middle of the ditch and preened on a half submerged log , only to be disturbed by four men with a strimmer working at the end of the ditch . I then moved
across the other side of the millstream where I got the first good view of a singing Nightingale , only for the bird to be disturbed , by the same four men . I saw the bird fly over towards the diver's bridge , but stayed put having heard another Nightingale sing a few notes by the bridge over the millstream .
My wait was rewarded , when the bird moved closer to where I was standing , and gave lengthy views and sang beautifully . Moving back towards the scrub areas a few more Nightingales were heard and another down in the car park , I would estimate 6/8 birds in total . I was also treated to at
least two Willow Warblers in song , this one along the path between the two scrub areas . Several
singing Blackcaps were also found , this one on the entrance to the car park . A few Slow Worms
were found under refugia and at least 4 Speckled Woods all freshly emerged , my first sightings this
year . The only other butterflies seen were  Peacocks , which numbered 15+ , this one nectaring on Blackthorn flowers . I did meet one of the rangers who tried to assure me that when all the remedial work had been done and new plantings , the area would be better than ever . Trouble is , what damage has been done to breeding species this year , and future years before the planting matures ?
Yesterday morning I led a bird walk for the Friends of a local Country Park , arranged a couple of months ago . I arrived for a scout round an hour before the start time , on admittedly a very cool morning . I got back to the car park just before start time to find 2 members of the Friends and three people who had seen the notice and come along , making 6 of us in total . We did the walk which went down well , and even the sun came out towards the end . I don't think I'll be saying 'yes' again .
In the afternoon , a look up on the Common in cool conditions didn't find much apart from a male ,
from those feathery antennae , Common Heath moth , and a hoverfly , which I believe is a female
Eupeodes corolla . 


roger.wood800 said...

I went to Hutchinson's Bank on Friday and the Orange Tips are now out, the only thing was they're constantly on the wing and not settling for any chance of a photo.
They're up along the 'top path' towards the Farleigh Dean Crescent end.
Sad to see bits of torn off and discarded plastics from a couple of motorbikes, which suggests that *that* particular problem is still ongoing.
On the plus side, I did also see a couple of deer in the woodland at the other end of the site

Ken. said...

Nice posting, covering many aspects of different wildlife.
You did well with the adders, nice photo's too.
Glad you got to see and phograph the Nightingales at New Hythe, shame about the work going on there. Good to see the Water Vole made a appearence for you.