Saturday, 9 July 2016

Saturday 9th.July 2016

A picture round up on recent outings .
High Elms transect numbers still very low . Common Blues like this female are having a really poor year .
Most recent transect perked up somewhat with Small Skipper emerging , along with 28 Marbled White ,

and last Sunday , the first two pristine Silver-washed Fritillary .
173 Meadow Brown , and rising , were recorded on the same day .
On one visit , this Roe Buck was found feeding on Burnt Gorse . I managed to get reasonably close with the
100mm. macro lens , before he was off In the area below Biggin Hill Airport , the Small Blues have all but
finished , finding just two faded specimens , but a Cinnabar moth allowed both top and under wing shots
before departing . Other finds included the leaf beetle Cryptocephalus hypochaeridis .
the hoverfly Chrysotoxum bicinctum ,
and a mating pair of the small hooverfly Sphaerophoria scripta .
A look around Keston Ponds , found Rutpella ( formerly Strangalia ) maculata , a longhorn beetle ,
an unusually marked pair ofmating flies , which may be of the Urophora family ,
at least 3 Downy Emerald dragonflies still on the wing and caught in flight ,
the male Black-tailed Skimmer was less energetic .
This pair of Mandarin , the male in front in eclipse , still showing a few ginger whiskers , will look almost identical , before he starts regrowing his colourful feathers .
This female Holly Blue was one of the few seen so far , hopefully the second brood will do better .
Whilst overhead , a passing Common Buzzard was seen off by the local Corvids .
In the garden , thefemale Ichneumon , Gasteruption jaculator , has been a regular visitor . Here , her ovipositor can be seen along with the two protective strands . Also around , 2/3 Cuckoo / Ruby-tailed
Wasps , so called because they lay their eggs in the nests of their host , and when the host seals up the nest hole , the R-tW , hatches first and feeds on the host's larvae , before emerging as an adult . Around the pond
, a freshly emerged female Southern Hawker was seen , possibly the offspring of one of the adults seen laying a couple of years ago .
It was a freshly emerged female Emperor Dragonfly that was found on the heathland up on the Greensand
Ridge , along with just a single male Adder .
A long trip with Martin down to Collards Hill for the Large Blue was a success , finding 7/8 on that site and another 3 on a nearby site . A bonus there was a moth survey going on and a Six-belted Clearwing was
netted and we had the chance to photograph the specimen .
The Down House bird survey produced an average 19 species , without a Swift or Swallow . When a deer
was spotted in the middle of the big meadow , it turned out to be a Fallow stag with somewhat deformed
antlers , but that didn't stop him from doing the same as the Roe Buck at High Elms .
Also found around the site , Corn Cockle / Agrostemma githago , a member of the pink family ,
lots of seeds on the Hornbeams ,
and 5 Violet Helleborines , four pictured here .
On the way back home , an in flight Four-spotted Chaser obliged at Keston Ponds .
A visit to Lullingstone Country Park produced an estimated 250+ Marbled White , with good numbers of females like this one . Also on the wing were 25+ Dark Green Fritillary , the main target . As usual , the
males were frantically searching for a mate or refuelling on the Greater Knapweed , whereas the only female
seen was keeping well away from the males , but that will no doubt change . No sign of Lizard Orchid , in
fact only one Fragrant and many Pyramidal , were the only orchids found . A few Demoiselles along the Darenth but very few damselflies . The only other interest found was a Golden-bloomed Grey Longhorn
Beetle , looking like something from outer space .
Last Wednesday , I had a day out in East Kent with Keith . Our first stop was East Blean Woods for Heath
Fritillary . Once the sun got onto the coppiced area , they appeared . The smaller , deeper coloued male on
the left and the larger paler female on the right . We did get a brief coupling , but they broke apart almost
immediately . We also found this male abarrant form .

We spent a couple of enjoyable hours in their company and got a bonus White Admiral too .
From there , we moved on to Westbere Lakes in search of Odonata . As we walked down to the river , it was obvious that Odonata too were in short supply this year , with just the odd sighting of Brown and Norfolk Hawker , Black-tailed Skimmer and Scarce Chaser . The path alonside the river , a hive of activity
on a visit last year proved the same , with just the odd damselfly seen like this mating pair of Blue-tailed , the female being of the rufescens form . A couple of reedbeds then provided good views of one of our targets ,
Norfolk Hawker , and we spent some time photographing the species . We did find a mating pair , but as they settled amongst the reeds , a water authority vehicle came along the narrow bankside path , we had to get out of the way , and that was the last we saw of the pair  Mostly males , as usual squabbling over owners rights to the best parts of the reedbed . Like most Hawkers  their flying speed is incredible and
 to follow them in the viewfinder almost impossible , but we both managed to get in flight shots . We walked as far as the seat , being treated every now and again by a family group of Kingfisher , more often heard than
seen . In the grass by the seat , we found an unusual moth , looking like it had a tattoo of Elton John between the shoulders . I was disappointed to find out that it wasn't the Elton John Moth but the Beautiful China Mark
, a first for us both . Close by , a female Beautiful Demoiselle wasn't to be out-done in the photo shoot . A few plants seen alog the way included ,
Goat's Rue / Galega officinalis , a member of the Pea family ,
Common Valerian / Valeriana officinalis ,
Meadowsweet / Filipendula ulmaria , a member of the Rose family ,
and Skullcap / Scutellaria galericulata , a member of the Labiate family .
We had seen a few male Scarce Chaser , but just before getting back to the ditches , found a mating pair .,
and not far away , looked down the funnel of a spiders web , to find the occupier waiting at the far end , the Labyrinth Spider / Agelena labyrinthica . At the end of the ditches , and un-noticed on our way past earlier ,
we found Amphibious Bistort / Polygonum amphibium , a member of the Dock family ,
then , finally , a sighting of a male Variable Damselfly , another of our target species ,
the best views of the visit of the Norfolk Hawker ,
and even a second mating pair , this time without any vehicle coming by .
By the time we got back home , it had been a twelve hour trip , but most rewarding and the forecast afternoon cloud didn't materialize , as can be seen in the last shot .


Derek Faulkner said...

Really nice post Greenie, presented in your usual knowledgeable way.

Ken. said...

Nice catching up with your last outing,that was a terrific number of Marbled White's.
Insects are a overlooked species by many people and think nothing of them, but then you see photo's of them up close, like yours it really opens your eyes as to how beautiful they can be.