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 .