Were quite lucky here in Kent, Chalk downlands abound, why it's taken me so long to discover these reserves is beyond me.
I 'm making more effort this year to visit our Kentish wildlife sites, especially those that I have never visited before, new sites inevitably bring new and unseen wildlife sightings, these chalk Downlands also make for an exhilarating walk in some beautiful countryside.
With this in mind it was back to Darland Bank to search for Butterflies, those of the blue variety, a speciality of these chalk grasslands. I was a little to early for the Chalkhill Blue, I was told to come back in July.
As expected my first Blue Butterfly soon appeared in the form of a Common Blue, as its name suggests the most common blue butterfly seen on these downlands.
These all look like males, the females have no blue on the upper wing surface I believe.
|Small Blue Male|
And then the Butterfly I really wanted to see, and one that has eluded me for years, mainly because I haven't been visiting the right places. This one is quite rare though, the Adonis Blue.
These are quite distinctive when you see them, the blue is very bright almost metallic looking, and the black veins pass through the white fringe of the wings giving a chequered appearance. Pleased with seeing two individuals on this visit.
Other interesting sightings made as I walked the paths along the hillsides where the many Man Orchids were showing everywhere. I noticed this Crab Spider trying to blend into the background.. they can change colour to yellow, but this does take some time. I didn't see many insects visiting the Orchids, so he may have a long wait.
|Crab Spider on a Man Orchid|
Plenty of Bee's on view,with one lucky observation of the Brown Banded Carder Bee the rarest of the three carder Bees found in the country and known to frequent this site. I did ask for confirmation from the "UK Bees, Wasps and Ants site and got a positive response., well pleased with that sighting.
|Brown Banded Carder Bee Bombus Humilis|
|Carder species ?|
|Bombus vestalis, the vestal cuckoo bumblebee ?|
|Bombus vestalis, the vestal cuckoo bumblebee|
I think that yellow band in front of the white tail could indicate that this is not the White tailed Bumblebee I first thought but Bombus vestalis, the vestal cuckoo bumblebee.
Some other Butterflies on show included, a few Brimstone, a single Small Heath, Green Hairstreak.
A mystery Orchid about to bloom next to a Man Orchid, probably Pyramidal or Common Spotted.
|Man Orchid and emerging Orchid.|