Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Tuesday 31st August 2010

With so much dropping in across the county I was expecting to find something on the paddocks in Ditton/East Malling as I cycled into work. Nothing - apart from 17 Swallows on the wires by over the Sweets Lane Paddocks, 9x House Martins over the Paris Farm Paddocks and 6x Pied Wags on the Kiln Barn Farm fields. I cycled back to Oaken Woods at lunchtime to see if any butterflies were on the 'snake track' just east of Oaken Wood that was bordered by Buddeleias in full flower. Only a single Red Admiral, not sure where everything else was? Cycling back past Gallagher's Gallop and Kiln Barn Farm I was pleased to see my first Wheatear of the autumn perched on one of the fence posts - must have dropped in mid-morning, It certainly wasn't there first thing! It was still feeding happily as I cycled home at 18:00.

Monday, 30 August 2010

Monday 30th August 2010

Early doors found me sitting on the wind swept beach at Shellness, Sheppey. Reports of large movements of Skuas off here on Friday (when I was in Devon), had me hankering after a Long-tailed Skua. Great Skuas were picked up almost immediately and after another 5.5 hours, and with the help of other birders who turned throughout the morning I left with a tally of 54+ Great Skuas, 20+ Arctic Skuas, 2x Pomarine Skuas and 6 x Gannets - not bad before lunch!

Out with the kids after lunch along the River Medway from Barming Bridge to Teston included sightings of a Kingfisher and a Water Shrew - a first for me - which was found a piece of hardwood over a stream near Teston Bridge.

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Wednesday 18th August 2010

At last - a Whinchat on patch - only been 5 years in the waiting with near misses including Wheatear, Stonechat and Black Redstarts over the years. Ironically I hadn't done my usual cycle into work, but had dropped my car of at the garage in Aylesford, and cycled in from there. A last minute decision saw me go left at the gates to work to check out the Paris Farm and Sweets Lane paddocks in East Malling before cycling up to Kiln Barn Farm (the wrong way!)for a quick scan before heading into work. Bingo - there it was on the fence posts by Gallagher's Gallop. Five Swallows swooped around it and a juvenile Yellowhammers and Linnets flitted in and out the hedgerow.

Sunday, 15 August 2010

Sunday 15th August 2010

Anything that flies - a day at Headcorn watching some Warbirds for a change.

Saturday, 14 August 2010

Saturday 14th August 2010

A Wasp Spider, one of few reported locally in Maidstone this month. This one was seen at Tyland Barn, nr Maidstone today.

Monday, 9 August 2010

Monday 9th August 2010

Another Silver-washed Fritillary today, again a new location in Barming (Oaken) Woods, but no doubt one or the same individual that I've been seeing over the last few days. Again it wouldn't settle for more than a few seconds and was continually harassed by Gatekeepers, hence the 'shaky' images. No sign of any Purple Hairstreaks today - no wonder I've missed them in previous years. Lots of Common Blues and a single Brown Argus.

The clouds were doing funny things!

Lots of dragonflies including; Southern Hawker, Migrant Hawker and Common Darter.

Sunday 8th August 2010

A couple of hours up in Barming (Oaken) Woods with the kids turned up a couple (or the same) Silver-washed Fritillaries, with one in a new location, on the buddleias near Gallagher's Gallop underpass. They were too flighty to photograph and after a few abortive chases we gave up and concentrated on catching grasshoppers!

With a Spitfire growling over the house on Friday evening we all looked up when this mixed group grumbled overhead - Tiger Moth, Cesena, Utterly-Butterly wing walker? Any ideas Twisden?

Friday, 6 August 2010

Friday 6th August

Talking to the Raspberry Breeder (yes, they do exist!)in her office at the Research Station I couldn't help but notice a juvenile Whitethroat working it's way through the shrubs behind her window. A Blackbird scolded it, but it seemed undeterred.

Thursday, 5 August 2010

Wednesday 4th August 2010

Another busy day but I managed to glimpse at one of the House Martin nests (six occupied this year compared to one in 2009) on the East Malling Research Station buildings and saw two young poking there heads out.  At home I this evening I added to my evergrowing moth list with Ruby Tiger, Shuttle-shaped Dart and Lime-speck Pug.

Ruby Tiger

Shuttle-shaped Dart (wearing a heart on each wing!)

Shuttle-shaped Dart's face - looks like a Terrier x Bison

Lime-speck Pug

Wave of some sort

Monday, 2 August 2010

Monday 2nd August 2010

Forty minutes at lunchtime to get some butterflying in - my target the Silver-washed Fritillary that had sped past me on Friday.  First port of call was the buddleias by Gallagher's Underpass on the NE edge of Oaken Wood, Barming - a blind Hedgehog made a sad sight (sorry no pun intended!) and a single Red Admiral and a couple of Peacocks didn't make me feel like it was going to be a lucky day. Good numbers of Migrant Hawkers were on the wing, with four individuals draped on one Chesnut tree.

I decided to take a different route from normal and took the 'north' track/road that, predictably,  leads along the northern edge of the wood.  I dipped into a clearing just SE of the woodcutter's yard and saw a butterfly drenched buddleia that was asking to be checked.  More Peacocks, a couple of Commas, Speckled Wood and a masses of Gatekeepers and Meadow Browns.  Then the Silver-washed Fritillary appeared, absolutely bombing it along the woodland edge, straight past the buddleia and then up and over the 40ft Chesnuts!   I watched him until he disappeared, but caught sight of a speck flitting around one of the oaks that I check every year for Purple Hairstreaks. 

Yep, that was what it was -a Purple Hairstreak, at last! How could I have missed them for so long?  As I got nearer I started to see more, including a couple nectaring at ground level.  A new, long-awaited addition to the patch.

Moving on, I checked where I'd seen the SW Frit on Friday, and he was still there!  Mobile as ever, only briefly touching down on a Buddleia to tussle with a nectaring Peacock and a very worn White Admiral.

Another White Admiral was seen near Gallagher's underpass on my way back to work, and a pair of Jays flushed a small group of Bullfinches from one of the coppiced hedges.

Kate - great to hear from you and thanks to Peter to confirming ID!  How's the weather in Washington State?!

Sunday, 1 August 2010

Sunday 1st August 2010

Tempted off patch again today by the repeated reports of Southern Emerald Damselflies at Cliffe.  Now I don't normally twitch insects, but I've never seen an Emerald Damselfly let alone it's rarer cousins, Scarce and Southern....and it's only 25mis away ;-)  So there I found myself, crack of dawn, in the drizzle, not another soul around, staring into ditches.  What sort of hobby is this?!  All the Cliffe regulars put in appearances; car tyre, beer bottle, couple of kids on a scrambler.  As the sun broke through, the reeds started to give up their gifts - Scarce Emeralds - masses of them. 

For some reason I thought they'd be dainty things, but not these, dwarfing the Blue-tailed Damselflies that joined them in the air....and occasionally ended up as their prey!

Two hours scoring the ditches failed to turn up the elusive Southern Emerald, but plenty of Common Darters, a couple of Emerald Damselflies and a red-form of the Blue-tailed Damselfly. 

Plenty of other Odonatologists started to appear but as far as I'm aware they were equally unlucky (Barry was that you proding the reeds with your long lens?).  Managed to get a crap record shot of this dragonfly - Black-tailed Skimmer - presumably?:

Back on the track it was good to catch up with a couple of Wall Browns, a elusive species it seems in Kent. Three Red Admirals were blown past and good numbers of Gatekeeper and Small Heath flitted around. 

Reptiles were represented by a couple of Grass Snakes; one swimming in a ditch aqnd the other crossing the track by the Black (or now Grey) Barn.  A quick scan from the first mound gave me heat haze views of a Ruff, 4x Greenshank, 6x Avocet, 8x Dunlin.