A heavy fog hung in the valley this morning, shrouding the bird song....all very quiet this morning. The sombre call from Crows, perched high in the dead trees and gallop fences, and the eery cry from hidden Jays broke the silence. An avenue display of dewed webs led me through the mire.
My heart raced momentarily as I reached Gallgher's Gallop - the silhouette of a small passerine stood out like a sore thumb, but it was resident, one of the Pied Wagtails that has made my heart race before!
No sooner was I confined to the office than the fog was burnt off and a beautiful Autumn day emerged. Wanting to make the most of this precious weather I visited Ditton Court Quarry which I've neglected this year. Deep down I hoped, against all hope, that I might just stubble across a Ring Ouzel; Warren had one on his not too distant patch yesterday and another had been reported in Wouldham, a few, direct miles north as the Ouzel flies.
The area in the SE corner always smacked of Ouzel to me, and it's where I'd picked up Black Redstart almost a year ago. But the area is small, and heavily disturbed today, and I knew there wouldn't be anything 'special' there today. A sortie of the area produced a couple of butterflies; Peacock and Red Admiral, but very little bird wise apart from a Great Spotted Woodpecker over, not the most regular Quarry birds.
Taking in the 'Ragstone Wall' I spotted a distant Lizard scrambling across the rock face, picking away at the many flies and ladybirds that were on the wing. Wryneck and Firecrest were other 'exotic' species I'd dreamed of finding on this warm, sheltered patch of the Quarry - think I needed a reality check today! A single spike of White Mullein(?) bordered the path,
and a few Waxcaps (looked more yellowy-brown than the nearby Dark fading waxcaps) poked through the sward - can you help Greenie?
On the way back to the labs I noticed the research's Head of Science, Dr Chris Atkinson deep in conversation with Chris Beardshaw of BBC Gardeners' World fame outside the Romanesque entrance to the derelict Ditton Labs.
It had really warmed up by the time I got back to the office and opening the window I was amazed at the literately hundreds of Harlequin Ladybirds that were congregating around the windowsills and on the south-facing brick work (the Director of EMR, esteemed entomologist and Barming resident, Dr Mike Solomon later told me he had 100+ on the outside doors of his office!). I 'scrapped' some off the window, and put them in a sample pot...lots of different forms!