Monday, 3 August 2015

Monday 3rd. August 2015

Another catch up on a busy week's outings .  
Still just the one Chalkhill Blue male on the slope below Biggin Hill Airport , but the visit did find a
Roe buck , the first I've seen on the site , and as can be seen , so close to a busy road .
On an umbellifer , the parasitic wasp  Ichneumon suspiciosus ,
and lots of one of the more easily recognised members of the Hawksbeard family , Beaked Hawksbeard  / Crepis vesicaria , identified by the orange underside to the outer florets .
After a windy and cloudy day , the sun came out late afternoon and I headed up for a look around West Wickham Common , hoping for Purple Hairstreak . That didn't work out , but over on the heathland clearing , 10/15 Holly Blue were making the most of the conditions . One female was
 particularly well marked , And whilst watching her , I was very surprised when she oviposited on
the young shot of the Heather . Being second brood , the books say their eggs are layed on Ivy . Although I have seen them laying on Dogwood and Gorse , this was a first for me . When she moved
on , I found her egg , tucked into the yet to open flower buds . I have marked the spot and hope to see the caterpillar when the egg hatches .
Only other interest found was this Small Magpie moth . 
A mid-week visit to the Isle of Sheppey , for a change of scenery as much as anything , turned out to be rather disappointing . Starting at Elmley , the track to the car park produced Grey Heron , Coot and a single Lapwing , before sighting my only Yellow Wagtail , or any other migrant , just before

 the car park . A distant Brown Hare , hunkered down in a strong wind was the only other interest found . The return trip down the track was only improved by a distant Marsh Harrier , but right at the
end , a Little Owl was seen on one of the barns . My arrival at Leysdown coincided with high tide , but there weren't any 'specials' in the gull roost on the pitch and putt area . The only waders seen were
Turnstones , this one having a seaside paddle . Things were so quiet , I turned around before the track to Shellness and headed for Capel Fleet . Any chances of finding a goodie were squashed by a mechanical shovel cleaning out the roadside ditch and a bulldozer spreading the diggings over the adjacent field . Strange timing , as on my way back saw a Little Grebe pair with very young chicks on
the Fleet . A female Marsh Harrier was seen at the raptor viewpoint , but that was it . To finish the day off , the traffic was a nightmare around the Maidstone area on the way home .
The High Elms butterfly transect produced 17 species , with all species falling in number apart from the Silver-washed Fritillary and the Large White , but the star of the show was the White-letter Hairstreak , which reached the heady height of 10 in the bottom glade . They were difficult to get a positive number in the windy conditions , but fortunately , Alison and Terry , both ex HE Rangers , and another enthusiast were in the glade , and between us were able to get the positive figure , the best for many years for the site . The WLH are now nectaring on the Hemp Agrimony as well as the
Canadian Golden Rod .
An early morning visit to West Wickham Common finally got a Purple Hairstreak into the
viewfinder . Another species having a poor year locally , as my maximum count on WWC to date is 5 and just 6/8 on Hayes Common . Also found on the visit was a yellow and black , wasp type , flat
bodied insect , the pattern of which I hadn't seen before . My thought was Hoverfly , but looking on the web , I couldn't find anything like it , so I put it on ISpot , and within minutes , one of the regular contributors , Chris , put me out of my misery . It is in fact a Soldier Fly with the common name of Banded General / Stratiomys potamida . Apparently there are four large , colourful Soldier Flies , this being one of them .
On Saturday , Keith and I decided to have a look for the Southern Migrant Hawker in Essex . We couldn't get away before 11.30 , and then got into a 3 mile 'stop-start' queue approaching the Dartford Tunnel , that wasn't on Keith's satnav when we left , but appeared when we got on the end of it and couldn't do anything about it . Anyway , we finally reached the Wat Tyler Country Park just after 13.00 , and the place was heaving . I've never seen so many people in a Country Park in my life and there was a wedding going on in a barn as well . Having parked up , we headed to the lesser
populated areas and started looking , Keith coming up very soon with a female Wall which was a surprise . We had seen a few photographers en route to the car park , so headed towards that area . The first one we talked to said we ' should have been here at 11.00 ' and showed some great shots of the Hawker perched low on reeds . Undeterred , we carried on searching , but the wind was quite strong . Eventually , we got our first sighting , in flight , right next to the play area , and later it
perched briefly in the same area . We spent the rest of the afternoon attempting to get in flight shots but to no avail and the warmth was discouraging any further perching , but we had seen the Hawker and got a few shots . On the way out , we stopped where three photographers were looking high in a
tree , they had watched a male fly and perch 5/6 metres up . We managed a few more shots , but nothing compared to some we have seen on the web . Thankfully the journey home was uneventful .
Yesterday I met up with Martin on Hutchinsons Bank and had a look around . He had a Clouded Yellow in the week and also a second brood Dingy Skipper . I was satisfied with 4/5 second brood
Small Blue , and when Martin mentioned that he had seen Chalkhill Blue ovipositing on Horseshoe
Vetch recently , we had a look and found one of her eggs .
And finally , before meeting up with Martin , I had distant views of a large bird , which quickly spiralled into the sky , most of the time into the sun from where I was , until it was out of view . I only had the 100mm. Macro on the camera , but took a few shots , best of which is here . I have
shown it to a couple of people , but would be pleased with any thoughts . 


Marc Heath said...

Could it be a Black Stork?

Warren Baker said...

Looks like a Little Egret Greenie, cant really judge the size going by the photo. Legs aren't particularly long, as in GWE.

Derek Faulkner said...

Looks like possible Spoonbill to me.

Phil said...

Well done with the Southern Migrant Hawker Greenie. Only ever seen one myself at Cliffe a couple of years ago.