Thursday, 8 October 2009
Amongst a lot of rushing around today , I managed two visits , one either side of lunch , and both in beautiful sunshine , so welcome after all the recent rain and cloud . The first was a quick look up on the Common . The Hornets are still busy , but at a slower rate , and I'm sure I saw another Queen at the entrance to the nest . Butterflies were few , just 2 Small Copper and a single Speckled Wood . I had several sightings of male Vapourer moth , but once again , never saw one land . I did disturb a Plume moth-Platyptilia celidotus , I believe , and when it settled again , it allowed a few shots . The only other interest was a lichen , on the heathland area . It is Cladonia cristatella , but I prefer the second of it's two common names , British Soldier Lichen or Devil's Matches . The after lunch visit was to the farm lake , which was much fuller following the rain . I thought the Mandarins might have settled here as it is very close to Keston Ponds , but there was no sign , just the usual Coots , Moorhens , Little Grebes and 4 Tufted Ducks . I've posted a shot of the latter , as some Bloggers don't see many Tufties . Walking round the lake , I only recorded a single Comma , sunning itself on the warm side of a hedge . There was though , quite a good emergence of Caddisflies-Trichoptera , and one stayed still long enough to get a few shots . As things were quiet , I did a lap of the harvested field above the lake , and from the very top of the hill took this shot of London through the Autumn haze .It reminded me of pictures I've seen of New York , from Central Park . The tall building right of centre is the NatWest Tower and to the right of it , the Gerkin , and Canary Wharf further right again . On my way back to the lake , I found Shaggy Parasol-Lepiota rhacodes in the shade of the hedgeline . I did another lap of the lake , and found 3 Migrant Hawkers , all males , sunning themselves , when not fighting aerial battles . As has been the case for some time now , the most numerous dragonfly found was the Common Darter with 15+ recorded , and even a couple of pairs egglaying in tandem . Some males still had good colouring , but several were like this one , described as over mature , with the abdomen going a browny/beige colour , and the wings become yellowish . On the way home , there was a large , mixed , Corvid flock in the horse fields alongside the bottom lane , which contained a good number of Rooks , a species that was not found locally until a few years ago . It was interesting to have a size comparison between one and the more numerous Jackdaw .
Wednesday, 7 October 2009
Friday, 2 October 2009
Incidentally , I half heard a report on the radio this morning , that although a protected species , Parakeets can be shot starting next year . I haven't heard the report again and haven't been able to confirm it , but I'm sure that was what was said . Having experienced them in the area for many years , I have often said that once they spread into the fruit growing areas , they would be treated like the Bullfinch was many years ago , because of their destructive habit of sitting in the tops of trees and ripping out the buds .
Around the Sandwalk , where Darwin mulled over his thoughts , I found some Armillaria mellea-Honey Fungus , but the dry warm weather is certainly holding things up , as this area is usually very good for several species . Also on the side of the path , is what is left of the Violet Helleborine that I posted back in the Summer . Now all that remains are the seed pods , hopefully these will provide more plants in the years to come . Around the cricket field , are many Hawthorn trees , but this one stands out from all the others , producing marble sized Hawes , and much fewer leaves that the normal ones . I had hoped that I might have had another Clouded Yellow on my visit , but the meadows have been 'topped' since my last visit , and what flower there was has gone , leaving nothing to attract butterflies . I always have a second look around the walled vegetable garden before leaving , and found this small Small Copper , nectaring on Michaelmas Daisies . It was tiny , and also one of the blue spotted variants . Apart from this , just a single Painted Lady , warming up , high in a hedgerow , and two Hornets hunting insects , were the only other interest .
After lunch , after doing a few calls in the town , I stopped off at Spring Park Pond , on my way home . My first sighting was this caterpillar , found on the leaves of Yellow Flag Iris . I have looked through the images , and the only one that I can find is the Yellow Tailed moth , but , the flight time does not match . Any help would be appreciated .With thanks , once again , to ShySongbird/Shysongbird's Twitterings , the caterpillar has been identified as that of the Knot Grass moth . A species that I have never heard of , and a very drab adult resulting from a very colourful caterpillar . Personally , I think 'SS' should be changed from 'ShySongbird' to 'Super Sleuth' , another great ID effort , thank you very much .Walking around the pond , I also disturbed a male Southern Hawker , that went into a few manic laps , before settling back at rest . As I was photographing this one , another movement , to my left , produced a second male . Walking further round , numbers 3 , 4 and 5 appeared , and continual aerial battles ensued . Added to this , 20+ Common Darter , mostly males , eager to defend their territory , it sometimes seemed like WW3 had started . I moved on to the small sheltered meadow , and was surprised to find , after yesterday's fresh female Brown Argus , a fresh male of the same species .
Fresh was not the word to describe my next find , a very tatty male Common Blue , the wings of which were almost see through , and well camouflaged on some late Bramble flowers . Along with these two , I recorded another 4 Small Copper , 1 Comma and 2 Small , 2 Large and 1 Green Veined White . On the edge of the meadow I had yet another male Vapourer moth , that only just evaded being a meal for yet another male Southern Hawker .
Tomorrow is the last day hedgelaying at Leith Hill , will it produce a Raven ?