Friday, 30 July 2010

Friday 30th July 2010

A couple more moths caught overnight included a Willow Herald (?) and Riband Band

Cycling into work was met with all the other species; 2x Little Owl (although one didn't want to pose as normal!), family groups of Blackcap, Garden Warbler, Great Tit, Linnets with Swallows and 2x Bullfinches all thrown into the mix. 

At lunchtime I did a circuit of Oaken Woods, nr Barming.  Butterflies were the order of the day with Gatekeepers (60+) predominating, but Speckled Wood (x3), Red Admiral (x3), White Admiral (x1) - in good nick on a buddeleia near Gallagher's Underpass, Meadow Brown (x16), Peacock (x9), Large Whites (x7), Common Blue (x5), Holly Blue (x3) and best of all a Silver-washed Fritillary

This only my second SW Frit on patch, but it wasn't hanging around and I struggled to keep up with on my bike!  It touched down briefly a couple of times, long enough to get a record shot.  It was seen in almost exactly the same location as the one I had 2 years - is there a small undiscovered colony in these extensive woods or am I seeing roaming males?! 
Southern Hawker

Migrant Hawker

Lots of Dragonflies on the wing as well with Emperor, Migrant, Southern and Brown Hawkers and even a Black-tailed Skimmer.  Only one moth, a Rosy Footman

Going back into the woods I was suprised to see how dank they'd remained in this recent heatwave.  Lots of puddles, skated over by Water Boatmen (how did they find themselves on puddles in the middle of a wood?!).  Also on the track verges the first mushrooms of the season (any suggestions for ID welcomed!)

Mushroom A

Mushroom B

Mushroom C

Thursday, 29 July 2010

Thursday 29th July 2010

Up to my eyes again at work so only a few sightings from today.  A Silver-Y caught in the kitchen last night was one of seven seen - numbers seem to be increasing on my patch.  Another moth was also caught, looks like some sort of Underwing to me but I'd be grateful for help IDing.  Just scrolling through Ross' blog, and almost falling asleep in the process, I can positively ID it as Lesser Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing, long name for a small moth! 

Good numbers of Linnets on the way into work near Gallagher's Gallop and evidence of Kestrels breeding near the Quarry all made for an interesting 10 minute bike ride. 

The Little Owl had changed position and posed on the guttering on the SE edge of Kiln Barn Farm Barn, and when he turned his head he was surprisingly camouflaged.

At lunchtime the light had deteriorated and a my photo of the 'Black 5' was spoilt by not being able to use a fast enough shutter speed. 

As I returned to work a couple of planes 'growled' over - one a Spit, the other a Harvard I think (help me Twisden)?  Steam train & Spit - it was like finding myself back in the 1940s! 

I'd seen the 'Harvard' over yesterday as well - any ideas where it's flying from anyone or white the other plane (white dot underneath) is?  A Spit and Hurricane had flow over site on Friday afternoon as well - is the Battle of Britain really over?!

Late this evening the Hedgehog paid another visit - blurring caused by the speed it moved (like the train).

Sunday, 25 July 2010

Sunday 25th July 2010

A Hedgehog returned to the garden last night and 5+ Silver Y moths were caught feeding in the security light that beamed on to the Verbena bonarensis.  I seem to be seeing these everywhere, along with Red Admirals, definetly a recent influx.

I visited Wouldham briefly this morning to see if I couldn't catch up with one or more of the seals that have been hauling themselves out on to the mud at low tide.  There was evidence they'd be there (I later learnt 2 had slipped into the water at 08:00, an hour before I arrived), but I was content with 2x Turtle Dove, 3x Common Sandpiper, 1x Little Egret, 10+ Lapwing.

Back at home in Barming I was suprised to find a Whitethroat in my lean-to!  A first for both my house list and after I had eventually captured it, for my garden list!

Later in the afternoon I visited Igtham Mote with my parents - a Lancaster Bomber overhead, a very worn White Admiral and a Pied Wagtail visiting a nest high up in the main building. 

The lanes back to my parents cottage near Chart Sutton were alive with House Sparrows, Linnets and Yellowhammers and returning along the same lane near Church Hill, Boughton Monchelsea at dusk I was pleased to have a Barn Owl flying ahead of me.

Sunday, 18 July 2010

Sunday 18th July 2010

Off patch again, on a prebooked trip to the Downs above Burham to go on a 'Dormouse Discovery' walk organised by Valley of Visions and hosted by warden Dave Watson of Kent Wildlife Trust

Dave escorted us to a number of site explaining KWTs approach to habitat restoration and the requirements and of Dormice in the UK.  We ended by inspecting a number of nesting boxes and the last one (phew!) turned up a small (15g) Dormouse, and what a cutie she was!  After weighing she was returned safely to her box. 

Also seen on the walk were a Common Buzzard, Silver-Y moth, Small Tortoiseshell caterpillars, numerous grasshoppers and bush-crickets and even some Deadly Nightshade.  A fantastic and very informative morning, topped off by sight of another Sparrowhawk harassing another Common Buzzard as we travelled back home down Blue Bell Hill.

Ken, I reckon I could just about see your house from here!

Saturday, 17 July 2010

Saturday 17th July

A day spent at home in Barming.  Highlight of the day was a Phylloscopus spp. visiting the garden briefly this morning, a real result as unbelievably it's the first I've had in my Barming garden, but equally frustrating as it neither called nor stayed long enough for me to ID.  I'm sure it was a Chiffchaff, but it seemed somehow bigger than those I see on my daily ride into work, perhaps just because it was in a different context.  Oh well I'll never know unless it returns tomorrow.  Interestingly I rarely hear leaf warblers near the house, a Chiffchaff has been heard occasionally further down South Street in previous years, but I've never had Willow Warbler closer than to me than Barming Woods.  After that I had to be content with juvenile corvids, and despite all their bad press I can't be but fascinated by the iridescence of a Magpie.

The highlight of the evening was the Barming Football Club Prize giving evening.  The Parish Playing Fields, of Hawfinch fame, were host to a different kind of exotic bird - Dorothy (aka Gary) the coach (above and below). 

We trust these people with our kids every Saturday morning!  I've had to add crossdressing as a label to my blog now.  The Ice Creams deserved their own Collins Field Guide! 

A great evening - and a big thank you to all those who put in the effort not only for tonight but throughout the whole football season. 

Thursday, 15 July 2010

Thursday 15th July 2010

A long overdue to visit at lunchtime to Ditton Quarry.  The wind was strong and showers threatened all the time I was there, but with the help of Mike Easterbrook we managed to locate 2x Ringlet, a new butterfly species for me in the Quarry.

A few Pyramidal Orchids were in bloom, with a few spikes of White Mullein standing out well against the ragstone quarry face.  There was no sign of the Yellow Bartsia that Mike had found a few years back, but lots of Knapweed, Scabious and luxurious Marjoram that all bode well for future butterfly hunting trips.

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Wednesday 14th July

White-tailed Lapwing

The White-tailed Lapwing was polite enough to linger at Dungeness for another day, and James wanted to see it having missed it a Rainham last week.  With the Purple Herons and Great White Egret all sighted this afternoon I couldn't turn his offer of a lift.  Leaving work I was sad to find a dead Greenfinch at the base of one of the windows on the main lab building of the Research Station.  Waiting for my lift I counted 13 species including Yellowhammers, Linnet, House Martin and Pied Wagtails

Arriving at the ARC pit we quickly connected with the White-tailed Plover, rather distant but constantly active and often giving excellent views in the early evening sun (where were the thunderstorms?) including a couple of short flights.  Up to three Green Sandpipers were also present, one sitting out very close to the ARC screen.  This was turning into a lovely evening!

Moving onto Denge Marsh Road for the Purple Heron we were greeted with that thunderstorm that we were expecting earlier - the car rocked and some poor sod who had been down at the bridge got caught in it (see below). 

After the rain came the sun accompanied by a fantastic rainbow topped by a Purple Heron seen in flight for 30 seconds or so before it dipped down back into the reeds. 

Yellow and Pied Wagtails, Linnets, Reed Buntings, Sand Martins and 1000+ Starlings were also on show, many coming down to visit the newly created puddles on the road. A male Sparrowhawk got everyhting into the air as it made a couple of low passes.  A dramatic, and successful evening.

The same view along Denge Marsh Road as the 'storm' pic above, but about 15 minutes later!

Purple Emperor wings

When I went butterflying last Tuesday with my lads at Dene Park, one of my boys picked up these butterfly wings off the path (no body).  Initial glance suggested a White Admiral, but turning them over I noticed the 'eye' - another Purple Emperor, possibly female?

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Tuesday 13th July 2010

Sometimes things just to come to you, and tonight was the perfect example with an Elephant Hawkmoth buzzing around in the kitchen at 11:30 and then a Hedgehog in the garden as I released the moth, only the second in my garden in 5 years (well ones I've seen)!