Saturday, 10 August 2019

Demoiselles !

  Checked out the River Darent on my way out of Lullingstone country Park, this is usally my best bet for seeing and photographing the Banded Demoiselle, but on this occasion as the Storm clouds rolled in and the sun disappeared so did the Demoiselles.

My second visit was more successful, usally I see many more male Demoiselles than I do females, but this time females were showing well.

I love watching these Damselflys especially the males as they launch themselves off the riverside vegetation to display to the females as they make an appearance.

I never tire of trying to get that perfect image of one of these Demoiselles, not quite there yet.

female Banded Demoiselle

female Banded Demoiselle
male Banded Demoiselle
So far so good , pretty certain of the identification on the Banded Demoiselle.
While walking around the Woodland at Dene Park in Kent as well as the Demoiselles I am familiar with, I caught site of another which I am not so Familiar with  the Beautiful Demoiselle, although I could only snatch a quick record photo I am pretty sure of its identification. the wings had a distinctive brown hue, which caught my eye and the body was a more bottle green in colour which you can just make out from the photograph.

Beautiful Demoiselle
Not sure if this is an immature male or female.

I decided on a visit to Sissinghurst gardens a National trust property was required , as I had heard that this was a regular haunt of the Beautiful Demoiselle.

The lakes and the woodland streams was where I looked, not as easy as I thought it was going to be, lots of Banded Demoiselles there, and the Demoiselles I thought could be the Beautiful Demoiselle were not convincing to me.

 The more I look at the images the more I feel unconvinced.

 If any Odonata enthusiasts out there can put me straight I would appreciate it one way or the other.

Sunday, 4 August 2019

Search for the Emperor !

 I still have a few Butterflies on my 'wanted list', the Emperor Butterfly sits well at the top of that list.

So with a few reports and photographs appearing on our local facebook Butterfly site I decided more effort was needed to try and see this elusive Butterfly.
The site in question was a huge wooded area called Dene Park Wood, a site I have never visited before, but I did have a hint of where to begin my search, " the dog poo triangle" ?

Well I arrived at the car park, several paths leading away from this area but fortunately I chose the right footpath and headed up the slight incline, my initial plan was to look for the sunnier aspects and hope to see the fabled Emperor come down from the treetops  to ground level where its particularly fond of "dog poo"

A complete circuit of the woods was made on the circular path I had chosen, a few Butterflies were appearing, the White Admiral, more sightings than I have ever had before.

White Admiral

A few other observers were beginning to turn up now, I enquired about the location of the "dog poo triangle" expecting a quizzical look , but no,as it turn out all this was was a small area of grass at a junction in the footpath where a Dog Waste bin had been placed,  not far from where I was standing, I slowly wandered back to this area, still more observers were already stationed here, but no sign of the Emperor. I did get several sightings of another elusive Butterfly and one still on my wanted list, the Purple Hairstreak, these sightings were mainly flight views and no photographs obtained of that little beauty this time.

I wandered back up the footpath to a very sunny area where  even more people had gathered,  this was the area supposedly where the Emperors master Tree was situated, but still no sign of him coming down from his lofty treetop home.

More Admirals were seen , again Black Admiral and a few Red Admiral.

Still no sign of the Emperor, and its reported optimum time span to see this was fast approaching its end, early morning to lunch time.
A few Silver Washed Fritillaries patrolled up and down the footpath which was very nice for me  as I do not see this Butterfly that often.

Silver Washed Fritillary

So no sign of the Emperor, its general flight time in more ways than one was coming to an end, this Butterfly will remain at the top of my wanted list and I'll try again next year.

I did manage to see two new Odonata species though on this visit which I was very pleased with, the first was the White-Legged Damselfly, both male and females seen.

White-Legged Damselfly female

White-Legged Damselfly male

And a completely unexpected sighting of a male Beautiful Demoiselle, a very brief sighting a little to high in the trees for a decent photograph.

Beautiful Demoiselle

 Butterfly sightings included White Admiral, Red Admiral, Silver Washed Fritillary, Meadow Brown, Purple Hairstreak, Gatekeeper, Small White, Comma, Ringlet and Speckled Wood

Odonata - White-Legged Damselfly, Banded Demoiselle, Beautiful Demoiselle, unidentified Hawker

All  in all, a good day despite not seeing the Emperor Butterfly.

Tuesday, 30 July 2019

Sandwich Bay

I have got a bit behind on reporting my wildlife encounters, so time to catch up. A trip down to Sandwich Bay, the main objective to see another new Orchid which is particularly fond of  damp grassland and dune slacks, the Marsh Helleborine.

View across Sandwich Bay

With the necessary permissions to view the area where the Orchids grow and on a gloriously sunny day, I was soon in position viewing the Marsh Helleborine where I must admit grow in some profusion. This is probably the best looking native Orchid I have seen to date, Butterflies and wasps were everywhere, and I had a great time watching a smallish wasp called a 'Crabro cribrarius'

 So first a look at the Marsh Helleborine together with a few Southern Marsh Orchids still in flower.

Southern Marsh Orchid & Marsh Helleborine
And here's the Digger type wasp that's quite common at Sandwich Bay

Crabro cribrarius
You can see how as each Wasp visited the flowers of the Marsh Helleborine a small package of pollina sticks to the wasps forehead.

A good selection of Butterflies on view, always nice to try and get a photograph of a Butterfly on an Orchid. But the Butterflies not really playing ball today.

A shy Painted Lady on a fading Marsh orchid
Marbled White on Red Clover
Small Copper
Meadow Brown on a Southern Marsh Orchid

Common Blue on an emerging Marsh helleborine

A battered Brown Argus

Essex Skipper in Kent

Last of the Lizard Orchids

Sea Holly, Eryngium maritimum.

unknown Leaf Cutter type Bee

Orchid Life List                                          2019 Orchid List

 Common Spotted Orchid                        Green Winged Orchid
 Early Purple Orchid                                Early Purple Orchid
Common Twayblade.                               Lady Orchid
Greater Butterfly Orchid                          Early Spider Orchid
 Lady Orchid                                            Fly Orchid
Pyramidal Orchid                                     Common Twayblade
 Bee Orchid                                              Man Orchid
Fragrant Orchid                                        Monkey Orchid
White Helleborine                                    White Helleborine
Southern Marsh Orchid                            Common Fragrant Orchid
Green Winged Orchid                               Bee Orchid
Early Spider Orchid                                  Southern Marsh Orchid
Fly Orchid                                                 Common Spotted Orchid
Man Orchid                                               Pyramidal Orchid
Monkey Orchid                                         Lizard Orchid
Birds Nest Orchid                                     Birds Nest Orchid
Lizard Orchid                                            Musk Orchid
Musk Orchid                                             Greater Butterfly Orchid
Heath Spotted Orchid                                Heath Spotted Orchid
Late Spider Orchid                                    Late Spider Orchid
Marsh Helleborine                                    Marsh Helleborine

21 Species

Friday, 12 July 2019

Painted Lady !

It was about this time of the year, maybe a week earlier, that I had a close encounter with a Silver Washed Fritillary at Shorne Country Park around the fishing lakes.

 So with some spare time, thought I would check the area out again, I found the Hemp Agrimony growing on the banks of the fishing lake which attracted the Fritillary last year,  the flowers not quite open which was disappointing,but a Fritillary seeing flying around the treetops close by, was more than likely the Silver Washed Fritillary and felt promising.

Another visit required, as I made my way around the lake a butterfly flew into view, not the Fritillary but a Painted Lady.

Up to now most of my Painted Lady encounters have been with very faded and rather tatty individuals, so I was pleasantly surprised to see this Painted Lady Butterfly in pristine condition, unusally this one kept its wings tightly closed giving  some nice views of the underwing, and, as the sun suddenly came out from behind a cloud, the Butterfly open its wings to reveal the gorgeous colours of its upper wings.

Mystery tour to Wye !

I have been exploring so many new sites in Kent at the moment, I find myself falling behind in reporting my sightings on this blog.

 My first Orchid sighting this year was the Early Spider Orchid, so I thought it would be nice to may be finish off with the Late Spider Orchid.

Early Spider Orchid seen in May 2019 at another site

Orchid Enthusiasts are quite protective on the whereabouts of some of these scarcer Orchids, with good reason I might add, so I count myself fortunate to  have received  some information on where, If I was lucky I may still find a Late Spider Orchid in flower, as they were reaching the end of their flowering season.

This was in a lovely part of the Kent Downs called Wye. The directions I were given were very good, unfortunately the street signage not so good,  but  I eventually arrived at the right place and very quickly found the Late Spider Orchids, most in protective cages, and as Orchid enthusiasts say 'have gone over' meaning that the flowering spike was finished. but there were still a few remaining flowers to be seen. I think another few days and they would be gone too, so I was very fortunate to see them.

Next year I hope to see them in their prime.

Late Spider Orchid

Late Spider Orchid

Late Spider Orchid

These Late Spider Orchids when first seen look very much like the Bee Orchid, the patterning can be very variable which does not help, the important I.D. factor here is the shape of the lower lip
The photo below was of an Bee Orchid growing in the same vicinity as the Late Spiders, which I must admit caused me some confusion, but the shape of the lower lip being more rounded is quite obvious to me now.

Bee Orchid.

I thought these Late Spider Orchids would be the last seen this year, but still some other species to see in the form of Helleborines.