Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Tuesday 31st. May 2016

Just as Summer was seemingly getting going , heavy rain and winds today have put the brakes on once again , although I must admit that the garden was much in need of the incessant wet stuff .
Earlier , in better conditions , a look up on the Common produced a few bits of interest ,
a Tick-Ixodida , probably brought in by one of the Roe Deer , deer being a major carrier of the ticks , which in turn can be carriers of Lyme disease , which can be transmitted to humans if they latch on to the body .
The first male Common Heath moths have emerged and as usual , difficult to photograph .
 Amongst the grass , the delicate Dovesfoot Cranesbill-Geranium molle ,
and it looks like there will be a good supply of berries on theflowering Rowan-Sorbus aucaparia .
I've made several visits to Hutchinsons Bank to enjoy the Glanville Fritillaries , and with the emergence of the
females , was lucky enough to see the first pairing and since then , a second pairing has been observed .
The Brimstones that over-wintered as adult , are gradually reducing in numbers as their time is finished , their offspring will appear later in the Summer .
I've found it another disappointing Spring for Orange Tips , and searching for eggs hasn't given much hope for next year , so few being found .
An unusual fly with an orange abdomen , seems to tick the boxes for Rhingia rostrata .
A quick look at Keston Ponds whilst en route to High Elms , found this female Mandarin with her six ducklings , which look very good look alikes for Mallard ducklings at this stage .
The butterfly transects at High Elms are still a struggle to find anything on some sections . Species numbers are up to 11 at best , but total numbers are still way down , once again  I put it down to the fact that much of the grassland was cut far too early last Autumn , destroying many butterfly eggs and larvae in the process .
Common Blue , a typical grassland species have emerged , but only on Burnt Gorse , where the gang mower cannot gt to , thank goodness .
It is also where the few Green Hairstreaks have been recorded , the females now laying the eggs that will be the next generation . After this one moved on , it took some time to find the small pearly green egg , nestled
in the buds of one of their foodplants , Birdsfoot Trefoil .
Also found was the first Garden Chafer-Phyllopertha horticola . No doubt the first of many , as they can be present in very large numbers some years .
The first Birdsnest Ochids have emerged , just four at the moment , but I get the feeling that orchids in
general look as if they are not having a good year so far either . The first White Helleborine also found , and
also the first Common Spotted Orchid to burst bud . Along the paths , evidence of Wych Elm , with lots of leaves and seeds on the ground . Thee fact that the seed is in the middle of the disc , determines that it is
Wych and not another member of the Elm family .
I've made a couple of visits to a site bellow Biggin Hill Airport where it was rumoured that Small Blues were seen last Summer . I'm glad to say that the rumour was true , having found 2 males on each visit and hoping
for more to emerge . Also on site , Swollen Thigh Beetle-Oedemera nobilis , only the male suffers the
swelling and what seems to be a solitary wasp , Gorytes quadrifasciatus .
A couple of stops at Spring Park Pond produced only common species of damselfly , but on vegetation
around the pond , Malachite Beetle or Red-tipped Flower Beetle-Malachius bipustulatus and a very
long-legged , evil looking fly Empis tessellata were found , both in good numbers . In the small meadow , a
well named Oak-striped Bug-Rhabdomiris striatellus was sunning itself on an Oak leaf and nearby ,
Bishop's Mitre-Aelia acuminata posed too . Between the pond and the meadow , the coppiced Small-leaved
Limes are regenerating really well .
My last visit to Hutchinsons Bank at the weekend , produced an opportunity to photograph the second
abarrant Glanville Fritillay , found earlier in the week , a lighter toned individual than the first . At the top of
the site , the Sainfoin-Onobrychis viciifolia , a member of the Pea family has started flowering , adding colour and more nectar for the invertibrates . On my way home , I stopped at a nearby Wych Elm to look for
White-letter Hairstreak larvae . Just two were found , one the usual green form , but the other was my first
 brown form , indicating that it is about to pupate . Strange thing is , I look for these larvae every time I do the HE transect , finding feeding damage on leaves , but never a larva . Also found on the Wych Elm was this
Copper Underwing larva which has cannibalistic tendencies , so WLHs beware .
Back home , we have had Robin , Blackbird and Dunnock fledglings in the garden and after much noise from
the Blue Tit box , all was quiet the other morning apart fro the odd squeak from this little one , on the grass in front of the box . Not a good situation , with several Corvids flying around . so , without much fuss , the
fledgling let me pick it up and place it in the Hawthorn tree . Almost immediately the parents found it and
returned constantly with food . Next time I looked , it was out in the open again and loudly calling for food .It moved several times around the garden and was still calling late evening . I hope it makes it .

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Wednesday 18th. May 2016

A couple of visits around locally proved very disappointing , but I did manage to find the first Brimstone egg
of the season , typically laid on a leaf of freshly emerging Alder Buckthorn . Apart from a couple of Orange
Tips , Spring Park Pond only offered up a 10-spot Ladybird /Adalia 10-punctata , a variable species .
The High Elms butterfly transects continue to be more walking than recording , but did produce what has
been seen to be one of the last over-wintering Commas , before the new brood appears late June or early July . Bee-flies don't seem to have been held back by the variable Spring weather , and it hasn't taken them
long to produce the next generation , even when on the wing as these two were .
Getting home brought better luck , with a male Holly Blue taking salts in next door's garden / building site ,
and in our garden I watched this female Orange Tip examine every Cuckoo Flower and Garlic Mustard plant
several times , before she decided to lay her egg on an Honesty plant . Whilst down on the bottom lane , the
Rook youngsters look as if they will fledge at any moment , and sure enough as I passed this morning , the nests were empty and it was all quiet .
A look around Bough Beech and surrounding area found several Common Whitethroat like this one and at least 2 possibly 3 male Nightingales , heard but not seen .
Lifting an old piece of tin produced this juvenile Slow Worm , identified by the dark marking along its back , attempting to tuck into a worm that was bigger than it's self . I replaced the tin and left them to it .
In a sunny glade , I was treated to an ariel ballet by male Green Long-horn Moths / Adela Reaumurella .
A caterpillar Carol found in the garden turned out to be that of the Lesser Yellow Underwing moth .
A look around Hutchinsons Bank found good numbers of Brimstones , the males , like this one , attempting to ground the female to mate with her , but this one was unsuccessful as she flew up and away .
It also provide my first Grizzled Skipper sighting of the year .
Back in the garden I found the daddy of Leopard Slugs / Limax maximus , curled up on the edge of a 2" paving slab .
A butterfly / orchid day out with Martin , started out on his patch Hutchinsons Bank with the first Glanville

Fritillaries to emerge . Just the two , but a great start to the day , before heading off to East Kent , before the dreaded M25 came into play with a long tailback between Jct.4 and 3 , so we had to pass 3 and make our way via Jct.2 , making for a later arrival than hoped for at Denge Wood , where the Duke of Burgundy were
found in reasonable numbers . Like other sites , not many other species were found , but some consolation
were the Lady Orchids , which were just coming into flower . Good numbers of Early Purple , several Greater Butterfly Orchid , though still in bud , were also found . Moving on to Park Gate Down , we had the first of two shocks , being not a sign of Monkey Orchid . Neither of us had been on site for some years and both had seen them on our last visits , but nothing this time . After a circuit of the site , we found a female
Red Admiral , again one of the few butterflies seen , laying her eggs on nettles . She stayed for a couple of
minutes and when she left we found one of her eggs . Arriving back at the car came the second shock , finding that I no longer had the car keys hanging from my belt . Out in the middle of nowhere , 50 odd miles from home and no means to get there . Fortunately , Martin remembered hearing a 'jangling sound' not long after our arrival , as we were searching at the top of the quarry . With Martin atanding where he thought he was when he heard the sound , I looked around and 5/10 metres away were the keys . Relieved , we pressed on to our last stop of the day , Marden Meadow , to enjoy the superb show of Green-winged
Orchids . The majority were of the purple variety , but a few pink and white ones were also found . A most enjoyable day and we managed to get home without any more shocks .
Another visit to High Elms was no better for butterflies , but the first Fly Orchids in flower were found , along
with a single Man Orchid , but still no sign of any Birdsnest Orchids .
Hutchinsons Bank provided excitement when Martin and I saw an abarrant form of Glanville Fritillary as we searched The Cutting . Unfortunately it didn't stay around for long , disappearing through the trees and down
towards the bridleway at the bottom of the site . This is the usual GF , resting on my finger , and this is the

abarrent form , probably 'ab. wittei'. It seems to causing a bit of a stir in the butterfly world , with visitors arriving hoping for a sighting . A GF pupa was also found by one of those visitors , attached to a large stone ,
the first one I have ever seen . I also had my frist Small Blue sighting , a male , only the third sighting this year
on the site to my knowledge .Unfortunately , the weather has turned today , just when a sunny , dry spell would have been perfect for the butterflies and all concerned .