Monday, 3 October 2016

Monday 3rd. October 2016

Well , the end of September should mark the end of the butterfly transect recording period , but , at High Elms LNR , where I have recorded weekly since the first week of April , my first September visit found the Conservation Field cut and laid in whinrows for baling . Added to that , the area left as an insect bank , 30% according to the management plan , was less than 5% . Contacting the managers of the site , I got glib comments like ' It's cut now , so there is nothing that can be done ' and ' I'll have to be more on the ball next year ' , and this coming from people paid to look after this LNR / SSSI . So , the freshly emerged  2nd. brood Brown Argus and Common Blues recorded on my last August visit to the Conservation Field , are no longer . These would have mated and the offspring having over-wintered as larvae , emerged as adults in late Spring /  early Summer next year . On my 2nd. visit after the destruction , the cut grass and flowers had been collected and removed from the site . What hope of 1st. broods for those two species next year ? Needless to say , very little was recorded during September weekly transects in the area , with the exception of a
migrant Painted Lady , no doubt wondering why it was all on it's own . To add insult to injury , the Orchid Bank was cut mid month and a start made on Burnt Gorse before the end of the month .
Up on the Common ,
a pair of Robber Flies / Asilidae sp. , had just one thing on their mind ,
although not seeing an adult this Summer , I found 8 Beautiful Yellow Underwing larvae feeding on Heather ,
and an unusual brick red coloured fly , which I believe to be Linnaemya vulpina .
A visit to Bough Beech proved worthwhile , finding 4 juvenile Ring Plover ( lefthand bird ) and a Little Stint ,
the first I've seen there for quite some time . Also seen was a Perch , just before it became lunch for this male
Kingfisher , and a close up Common Sandpiper on the causeway .
Gone now the golden brown underwings of the 'hutchinsoni' form of Comma , with fresh emergents sporting their much darker colouration . Also found , or should I say , dropped down in front of me , was this unusual
looking wasp/hoverfly , as I walked along a path , hence the poor shot . A bit of digging pointed me to the Ectemnius species , and think it is a Big-headed Digger Wasp / E.cephalotes , a species I haven't seen before
Meanwhile , in the garden , Carol was wondering what was decimating a Cotoneaster on the patio . With a clue of a large amount of black droppings below the plant , the culprits were found , 8 larvae of the Vapourer
moth , there could possibly have been more . Slowly over the coming days , droppings reduced ans did sightings , until none were seen at all . Then Carol spotted one on a potted minature Rose , and when I had a look , it had that just about to pupate look about it and sure enough , over the next few days it spun it's
cocoon and was no longer visible . Having read up about the species on the web , I found out that they over-winter as eggs/ova which could be a problem to this specimen to pupate , emerge and breed with Summer all but finished . I have since covered the pot with a net bag from purchased oranges , in the hope that the occupant of the cocoon might be a flightless female , who , according to what I have read , would release pheromones , 'calling in ' a male to mate with her . I have seen lots of males , every one passing in a zig-zag flight at speed , I have never seen a male at rest , or a female for that matter . Now it's wait and see . By coincidence , I was tidying the shed at the bottom of the garden , and came across this .
Had I not read the Vapourer article , I might have dismissed it as spider eggs or something similar , but I recognised it as the eggs of the Vapourer , layed by the female on the outside of her cocoon , attached to some plastic netting . Almost impossible to count , I think there are 200/250 eggs there . So these seem to be doing what the article said , it will be interesting to see what happens on the Rose .
No such worries for these Rose-ringed Parakeets , the male getting rather physical with his mate .
Another visit to the Common found another migrant , a nicely marked moth , Rush Veneer ,
and a hoverfly that can only be identified down to family , Syrphus , to go further , the colour of the hind femora , yellow or dark would be needed to be seen , as it could be one of three species .
At Keston Ponds , things are also winding down with just a few Odonata still on the wing . Two female
Brown Hawker were found still busily ovipositing , along with a single male Migrant Hawker , Common Darters and Common Blue Damselflies .
A look up on the Greensand Ridge failed to find any neonate Adders , in fact very little was found apart
from this Common Lizard and very close by , a male Adder , just as well he wasn't hungry .
And finally , I have spent some time on the Downs , just over the border in Surrey , where the sky has been

 full of Red Kite ( at least 5 ) , Common Buzzard ( at least 8 ) and Raven ( at least 4 ) ,

but no sign of any hoped for migrating Ring Ouzel . Mind you , the local corvids were not very pleased with
the raptors as they passed overhead .