Saturday, 9 May 2015

Saturday 9th.May 2015

With a mixed week of weather forecasted , I set off on Monday to do the High Elms butterfly transect , hoping for a good improvement on last week's . Well , just 22 butterflies , albeit from
species is all that was recorded , the only new species was Green Hairstreak , of which 3 were found .
Dingy Skipper (4) , Grizzled Skipper (1) , Brimstone (4) , Peacock (2) , Small Tortoiseshell (1 - a
very fresh specimen , looking like the offspring of an over-wintering pair , which will now find a mate and produce it's own offspring , and the survivors will in turn over-winter and become next
Spring's sightings )  and 5 Orange Tip along with 6 of their orange eggs . All were found on Jack-by-the Hedge or Garlic Mustard / Alliaria petiolata , a member of the Cabbage family . Normally , a
single egg is laid on each flower head , but here , three eggs have been laid on one flower head , a problem when they hatch as the larvae tend to be cannibalistic . I can only think that it was because of the lack of foodplant available , I just hope that the over zealous stimming by contractors doesn't
happen again this year . Whilst on transect , the first Burnet Companion , a day flying moth was also found . Had the count been of flies , the figure would have been enormous , as St. Mark's Flies , the
ones that fly with dangling legs , were everywhere , a bit late this year with St. Mark's being the 25th. April . One sad find was the remains of a Gt. Spotted Woodpecker on Burnt Gorse .Along the bottom lane on the way home , Greater Celandine / Chelidonium majus , a member of the Poppy family , was
found flowering in it's usual small area .
After dropping Carol off shopping on Tuesday morning , I went for a look around Kelsey Park in Beckenham , under threatening skies . Not much new was found apart from a family group of
Greylag Goose youngsters , being shown off by their parents , and with the odd spit of rain in the air , I spotted a Mute Swan family heading down to the first bridge , and with a bit of a spurt , arrived just
before them and finding a bonus of one of the very young cygnets being carried on the mother's back . The family of 9 stayed for a few minutes before heading back towards the island , giving me
just the time to get back to the car , before the heavens opened . On the way , I spotted this unusual Mandarin in the Beck . When they moult , all Mandarins look like females and the males regain their
colourful plumage for the breeding season , which was last month and this . Why this specimen is so far behind the others , I just don't know .
Thursday looked as if would be the best day of the week , so I headed off to Old Lodge Reserve on Ashdown Forest . I drove down in reasonable weather , but as I started to climb up onto Ashdown Forest , the cloud filled the sky and it was quite chilly . The top path from the car park was catching that cool wind and consequently little sigh song was heard , apart from a distant Cuckoo which seemed to come and go throughout my visit , but never seen . Somewhere in a tall Pine , a Tree Pipit was singing , but again I didn't see it . At the top of the slope down to the small stream at the far end of the site , a Common Whitethroat called , appeared and disappeared just as quickly . Half way down I was finally able to get the camera out with a very confiding pair of Stonechat , the only ones seen
on the visit . The male was very mobile and constantly 'chatting' , but the female was very laid back ,
making a very pleasurable interlude . A couple of Woodlark were heard but again not seen , and it wasn't till I got to the top end of the reserve that I found my first male Common Redstart , high in a
tree in awful light , his song somewhat subdued by the conditions . A second was seen on the fenceline where the logs are stacked , but that flew before I could get close . But , at least the sun
came out briefly , and that encouraged a male Tree Pipit to sing from the overhead wires , and I think his song was appreciated by what I believe was a female , that listened from a fence post , before
following the male into a Pine , I leave the rest to the reader's imagination . I met two other birders in that area , who had been on site since 0630 , who were still waiting for their first Redstart , but they had seen a Merlin and a Hobby soon after their arrival . A distant view of a Raven and a disappointingly small number of singing Willow Warblers made up the sightings . Only other interest
found was Petty Whin / Genista angelica , a member of the Pea family , a spiny species of heaths and moors , was a first for me . By midday , everything went even quieter , so , like on my last visit , I left the site and headed for Broadwater Warren for a look on my way home . By now there was more sun and with more shelter it was pleasantly warm . I made my way along the main track towards the quarry , turning left where I found Woodlark on the previous visit , but no sign this time , but in the area was a bonus of a female Wheatear . She seemed ravenous , scampering around on the ground
looking for food , which seemed successful , then every now and again , perching up to look for the
next meal . As long as I didn't get too close , she was happy to carry on . Further along the track , a
Kestrel was also looking for a meal , unsuccessfully , and across the lane the 'mewing' of Common
Buzzard alerted me to a pair looking for a 'bunny meal' . Both Skylark and Tree Pipit were up singing and 'parachuting' back down again , and amongst many blurred shots , managed to get a half decent
of the latter just before landing back down . A look around the pond found Willow Warbler and Blackcap , and on my way back to the car park , finally caught up with Woodlark , when what looked like a family group of four lifted off from the side of the main track , one landing closer than the rest
briefly before joining up with the others . Only two species of butterfly were seen on site , two Peacock and more Brimstones than you could 'waggle a stick at' , not surprising as several of the tracks were bordered with Buckthorn . Given the acidic tendency of heaths , most likely Alder Buckthorn / Frangula alnus .
This morning , in cool and breezy conditions before the rain arrived , I did the Down House bird survey , recording a reasonable 22 species . Once again , nothing very exciting , but it was good to
find two Swallow over the cricket square , and over by the pavilion , a distant Mistle Thrush with food , hopefully a sign of successful breeding . Not a single butterfly was recorded during the survey . On the way back home , I looked in on the farmhouse off Downe Road , and again failed to see a single House Martin . The only interest found was Borage / Borago officinalis , related to Green
Alkanet and Viper's Bugloss , growing on some waste ground .

1 comment:

Warren Baker said...

Still a bit slow out there for May Greenie, you seem to be finding some good stuff though mate :-)