Monday, 1 June 2015

June Diary

 30th June -  Temperatures have been building for the last few days, 31 degrees expected here today  in the North of Kent. Butterflies are finally putting on a good performance with huge numbers of Meadow Brown,  Small Heath, and Speckled Woods, Large Skippers are becoming more prominent, A Cinnabar Moth was seen this morning, not much again on the Birding front, Wood Pigeon, a few Jackdaws and Carrion Crows, Robin, Blackbird and Song Thrush all very vocal.
My third Common Spotted Orchid has been found this time in the centre of the woods. way past its best, but nice to see.

A surprise as I walked up through the Glades, our one and only Poppy has flowered, so a close up to fill the frame.

28th June - A Chiffchaff was seen today and a few heard around the woodland, Song Thrush and Blackbird very vocal at the moment, not much else seen birdwise, Another Purple Salsify found today in full bloom and the time was only 0815, the sun was shining right on it though. still can't quite catch the yellow variety, Meadow Salsify in full bloom yet. Still no Swift or Martin sightings, and only one Swallow sighting around the confines of this local patch, where are they all.

27th June - The Hogweed growing along the edge of the Wildflower meadows seems to be a magnet for insect sightings at the moment, this beetle  clinging to the stem of some Hogweed could hardly be missed with those very distinctive antennae, I know absolutely nothing about insects, but I recognised that this was possibly a Longhorn Beetle of some description with those long antennae.
You never know when seeing an unknown insect whether it could be a rare sighting or not, so a photograph to compare with the reference books  always comes in handy.
Apparently there are twenty thousand species worldwide, several hundred species in Europe, and only about seventy species in the UK,  so it shouldn't  be too hard to track it down.
Turns out to be a Agapanthia villosoviridescens or the Golden-bloomed grey longhorn beetle, not particularly rare, quite common in the south east of the country.
Usually found in damp meadows or hedgerows , the adults feed on the Hogweed, Cow parsley and thistles, seen between May and June.
The adult female bites into the stem of its host plant, and lays its eggs, usually two per stem.
Quite a spectacular Beetle to see for the first time.

Golden-Bloomed Grey Longhorn Beetle

I also noticed today that the Red Campion flowers are beginning to die back,  leaving their seed pods.

Red Campion seed pods

25th June -  Some early morning sunshine encouraged the Butterflies out today, with lots of Meadow brown, Small Heath and common blues still being seen, this day flying moth the Burnet caught my eye buzzing around some clover, close inspection of the photograph revealed it as the 'Five spot Burnet' one of the commoner Burnets , but a nice splash of colour in the meadow. In the second photograph you can see the very long tongue.

Five spot Burnet

The only Bee sighting today was this very pale Buff Tailed Bumblebee on a flowering Scabious, most of the white hair on the tail was missing.

Buff Tailed Bumblebee ?

24th June -  Lots of Bird song this morning, Song Thrush, Blackcap Wren and Robin, I did catch sight of two Whitethroats chasing each other around an old elder tree, a single Chiffchaff heard calling from somewhere in the woods, not much else to report on the avian front.
 The Hogweed plants growing alongside the footpaths are really good for insect sightings at the moment, like small helicopter landing pads, they seem particularly attractive to these Swollen-Thighed  beetle oedemera noblis who feed on the pollen.
I love the metallic green colours of these beetles when they catch the sunlight, they seem very common with at least two or three on each flower head.
I must admit that I find insect identification extremely difficult apart from the obvious, there seems to be countless varieties

Swollen-thighed Beetle male

Swollen-thighed beetle and unknown insect
Female Swollen -thighed beetle
Honey bee
Weevil species ?
unknown insect
Scorpion fly
23rd June - I have been keeping an eye out for a flowering Meadow Salsify after coming a across the Purple Salsify earlier this week, but true to its name "Jack-go-to-bed-at-noon" I'm having no luck, this is the closest I have got to finding a flower in full bloom, they need some early morning sunshine to encourage them to flower.

Meadow Salsify
Plenty of Seed Heads or clocks which are very visible in the wildflower meadows, as well as the closed buds

Salsify Clock

I did find this nice example of  Viper's-bugloss echium vulgare , with its upright flower spike very visible growing up through the  long grass.
Last year I managed to photograph a very nice  'crab spider' on one of these spikes, not this year though.
Vipers -Bugloss
22nd June -  It's hard sometimes to know which direction to concentrate your gaze, my main interest are usually the birds, but sightings are quite hard at the moment with just the odd Song Thrush, Blackbird, Wren and Robin being the most obvious sightings, Tree creepers, Nuthatches and Woodpeckers seem to be keeping their heads down with no sightings at all this last few weeks.
No sign of the Little Owls, so I count myself lucky to have seen the two Owlets before they left their nesting hole.
Butterflies sightings are getting more frequent, Meadow Browns, Small Heath, Speckled Wood and the odd Common Blue  appear to be the most common at the moment around the grasslands.

Bee sightings are mainly, Buff Tailed, Red tailed, White tailed Bumblebee's, the Honey Bee nest is still active.
These Labyrinth spider webs are easy to spot at the moment low down in the grass, it's nice to catch sight of the actual Labyrinth Spider occasionally , like the one in the photographs below.

Labyrinth Spider Agelena labyrinthica

The other highlight of today's walk was the all to brief view of a small vole disturbed in the  grass and bramble within the wood, I am sure it's a vole and not a mouse, it has the rounded head of a vole with small ears, deciding if it's the Short Tailed Vole or the Bank Vole is another matter, it seems that the length of the tail is the deciding factor here, so not easy if you can't see the tail then.

Vole Species ?

21st June - I was doing some research on the relatively common wildflower which I know as
"Goatsbeard" I have been seeing a few examples on the edge of the wildflower meadows in the glade area. It's a type of Salsify, to give its full name Trogopogon pratensis , when in bloom it has a fairly large yellow dandelion type flower, the curious thing about these which I did not realise is the fact that they only flower in the early morning sunshine , and then closes a few hours later, hence its old folk name of " Jack-go-to-bed-at-noon"
The 'Goatsbeard'  name comes from the seed arrangement after flowering, looks a bit like a large Dandelion seed head, known as a 'clock'

Goatsbeard or Meadow Salsify
As I was reading through the descriptions of the flower, there was my 'mystery flower' of the other day,

Purple Salsify
It's a Salsify species native to the Mediterranean and introduced into central and southern England, commonly found growing in fields. known as Purple or common Salsify, Oyster plant or Jerusalem star.
The vegetable root of this Purple Salsify is described as " having the taste of oysters, although more insipid with a touch of sweetness" 

I must admit that Oysters are not exactly appealing to me, so I'm not tempted to taste it. Mystery solved.

20th June -  Highlight of today's walk in bright sunshine was my first Large Skipper of the year seen on the fringes of the wild flower meadow in the glades. No sex brand on the forewing so probably a female.
Two Ring necked Parakeets flew over the woods, a Juvenile Song Thrush seen on the trail.

Large Skipper

19th June - The early morning sunshine did not last long before it clouded over, no butterflies today, a Buff Tailed Bumblebee was seen on the Foxgloves not much else, except for a very brief sighting of what looked like a Ashy Mining bee, but I could not relocate it, this one is top of my wanted list.
The Rosebay Willowherb has started to flower.

Finally that elusive Wild Rabbit has finally given itself up, I find it quite strange that there are not more Rabbit sightings in a place like this, but very rarely seen.

And a Mystery flower seen growing in amongst the wild flower meadow, nice looking flower though.
If anyone knows what it is , feel free to let me know.

Mystery flower ?
18th June - Another warm day but with a slight breeze, no Butterflies today, lots of Scorpion flies flying up from the long grass,  I noticed this Thick-Legged Flower Beetle or Swollen-Thighed Beetle
Oedemera nobilis, on an Ox-eye Daisy
 Swollen-Thighed Beetle
Things are still very quiet on the Birding front, Magpie, Song Thrush, Blackbird, Great Tit and a Wren. Still no sign of the Little owl family, perhaps they have left the nesting tree.

17th June - A warm still day brought out the Butterflies today, a Red Admiral sunbathing on some nettles was a bit photo shy, a Small White Butterfly over the wildflower meadows, my first Meadow Brown of the year was seen today, lots of Small Heath butterflies on the short grass on the trails, a female Common Blue posed long enough  for a  quick photograph, back in the Woods  a Speckled Wood was seen appropriately.
A few BumbleBee's were seen these were mainly Red Tailed Bumblebee workers.
A second Common Spotted Orchid was found  near the cattle field.
Female Common Blue
Meadow Brown
Small Heath
Speckled Wood
Speckled Wood
Common Spotted Orchid
Red Tailed Bumblebee worker
Red Tailed Bumblebee worker

16th June - Pleasant walk in some nice warm sunshine, resident birds seen today, include Wren, Blackbird, Green Woodpecker, Wood Pigeon, Stock Dove, Robin, around the glades the usual Magpie, Carrion Crow, Kestrel and a female Pheasant flushed from the wild flower meadow.
 No sign of the Little Owl owlets today although I did see the adult fly from a nearby tree.

Lots of Scorpion-flies in the undergrowth, looks like the insect book I read was right, very common  when you know what your looking at.

Scorpion fly
Lots of Dog Roses flowering now, along with  bramble. 

Dog Rose or Wild Rose  (  Rosa canina )
This Early  Bumblebee worker was seen around the brambles.

Early Bumblebee worker around Bramble flowers
Stock Dove
15th June - An interesting revelation today, after a lack of sightings at the Little Owl site, I had noticed A Little Owl just inside its nesting hole this last few days, not a brilliant view but definitely an Owl in the shadow of its entrance hole, I assumed it was the adult male.
Today I managed to get a photograph at the site, and it has revealed at least two Owlets possibly three, both covered in grey downy feathers, there eyes are open, I believe that they leave the nest hole after about 30 days and stay hidden nearby in the surrounding trees where the parents bring them food, so something to look out for over the next few weeks.

Little Owlets

Not much else on the birding front, a few Carrion Crows around the glades, within the woods the constant rasping calls of Wood pigeons can be heard, but not seen. The Honey Bee nest was back to normal with just a few bee's seen entering and leaving the nest site,
No other insect sightings today, but a quick check on the Common Spotted Orchid found it in full bloom, lets hope no one decides to pick it.

Common Spotted Orchid

14th June - Early morning walk which started off with a cool wind and ended feeling warm and humid, a few interesting sightings today, began with a Ring Necked Parakeet flying over Two ponds towards Cobham hall estate, at least three Song Thrush heard singing this morning, Blackbird  and Carrion Crow as usual.. The Little Owl is definitely back, saw him skulking inside his roosting hole,
The walk around the glades produced a Carder Bee and another Scorpion Fly.
 A Buzzard was seen slowly circling over the wood, and then drifted over Jeskyns country park.
As I walked passed the Honey Bee nest site, the entrance hole probably eight inches in diameter was completely covered with Honey Bee's, I believe this is called a 'cluster' where the Bee's hang on each other, not sure if this was because of the low  temperature from the night before, but quite an impressive sight. no camera again, typical.

13th June - The overnight rain has left a lovely earthy fragrance to the woodland trails today, the undergrowth looking very fresh and green. Birding highlights, and there was not many, a male Blackcap posed nicely on an overhead branch, a few Long tailed tits moving through the trees, I caught sight of the Little Owl today in its favoured tree, where has it been or is it just staying well hidden, nice to see him again though. no bees or butterflies today.
This Honeysuckle caught my eye just coming into bloom.

Wild Honeysuckle
I tried  a new path today running alongside Halfpence Lane and came across some magnificent examples of Foxglove, I can't resist these at the moment , this one was over five feet tall.


11th June - The weather remains good at the moment, the sun is shinning and the woods are looking pretty good, unusually a couple of Rabbits have been seen on the open areas of the wood, these have got to be the most wary of Rabbits I have ever come across, plenty of birds singing unseen in the woods , Blackcap, Chiffchaff still, a lone Robin seen this morning, a Carrion Crow on the footpath was reluctant to move until the last moment, leaving a robbed Wood Pigeon egg intact on the ground.
Three Speckled Woods were jousting for supremacy on the woodland edge, Garden Bumblebees still around the Foxgloves.

10th June - A pleasant walk today in some warm sunshine, it was  a cold night , I noticed some
 Bumblebee's still trying to warm up, the Foxgloves are where most of the bee action seems to be, although I did find a nice Buff tailed bumblebee on some Elderflowers.

Buff tailed bumblebee
Foxgloves in the wood pasture

Carder bee sheltering inside foxglove
Carder bee male
I think this is a male Carder Bee, my reference book states that the male Carder bee does not have a pollen basket on its rear legs.

Garden Bumblebee
Still plenty of Garden bumblebees visiting this foxglove patch.
The only other point of interest was the discovery of some 'Field Maple' tree's in a hedgerow running through the glade area. I am trying to get a grip with tree identification so I could be wrong.

Field Maple
9th June - Another dry bright day with a bit of stiff cold wind,  lots of  birdsong around the woods, I managed to identify Blackcap, ChiffChaff, Robin, & Song Thrush, but the birds seem to remain hidden. A Green Woodpecker was disturbed from a grassy area, a few Juvenile Blue Tit were seen near the glades, A few Wood Pigeon flew over, The Kestrel was seen near the top of the glades hovering over its favoured wild area.
This wild flower I noticed the other day was a mystery to me, but turns out to be the common 'Yellow Rattle' seems quite attractive to the Bee's.

Also known as the 'Hay Rattle' it's said that if you walk through a wildflower meadow at the height of summer and you'll hear the tiny seeds rattling in their pods,  this was also an indicator that the meadow was ready for hay cutting. this occurs  late July, must look out for it then.

Yellow Rattle    [ Rhinanthus minor]

Early Bumblebee worker on Yellow Rattle.
Back in the woods and a look at the Foxgloves revealed some nice Garden Bumblebee's.

Garden Bumblebee
Garden Bumblebee
As I  left the woods another  deceased Common shrew was seen on the footpath again, and the grisly remains of a Blackbird attack probably by a Sparrowhawk.

8th June - I was ready for the unexpected today and it did not disappoint, as my wife and I walked down the path towards Two Ponds  a flash of blue caught my eye, a dragonfly, and it  landed close by on some bracken, it allowed me to get relatively close to take a photograph before it was off, this is only the second dragonfly seen here in the woods this year, the first being a Hairy Dragonfly.
Still no further sign of the Painted lady just a Speckled Wood today. Bumblebee's represented by a Red Tail Bumblebee.

Male Broad Bodied Chaser
6th June -  Early walk in some nice sunshine, Song Thrush could be heard singing high in the trees  but not seen, not much else around the woodland, Wren and Robin.
 Around the glades a few corvids around, Carrion Crows and some immature Magpies.
No sign of the Painted Lady today, just a Speckled Wood and a Small Heath Butterfly
There seemed to be a lot of Early Bumblebee's around today, one Buff Tailed  and one Carder Bee.
The Foxgloves are looking great at the moment in the early morning sunshine

Male Early Bumblebee


5th June -  The weather girl predicted heavy thunderstorms for today, so I decided not to take my camera, big mistake, as is always the way something interesting inevitably turns up, today was no exception. As I walked through the glades in hot steamy sunshine, a Butterfly flew up in front of me and landed on the footpath a few feet from me, a Painted Lady in pristine condition, it remained there undisturbed by my presence, I haven't seen one for a few years now, so even more frustrating that I didn't have my camera to record it, not even my phone!!!
Also on view lots of Small Whites, Small Heaths and a few Carder Bees.
The Honey Bee's nest was buzzing, if you pardon the pun, as I walked by.
The Mallards were back on Two Ponds, a few Song Thrush, a single Whitethroat and three Magpies were seen on the avian front.

3rd June - A later than usual walk today in some pleasant sunshine, the Mallards have moved on from Two ponds, but a nice Song Thrush singing from its song post was nice to listen too.
 Two Blackcaps were chasing each other through the trees,a few Wren could be heard singing unseen along the trails.
An old woodpecker hole in a dead tree caught my attention as I could see a few bee's flying around, looks like a Honey Bee nest, but its quite high up and I couldn't get a close up shot, not that I wanted to get to close anyway.

Honey Bee nest ?
 As I entered the glades a Small Heath Butterfly was disturbed from the path, no other butterflies seen today, where are they all.
A green Woodpecker flew noisily over the trees,  Carrion Crow and Magpies seen around the cattle fields not much else.
Back in the woods I checked out the Foxglove area and found a few in flower.


2nd June - Cold, wet and windy, summers here. A pair of Mallard ducks were swimming on the smaller of Two Ponds, looking slightly uncomfortable as I quickly passed, A Wren could be heard singing unseen from the understorey, a Song Thrush gathering food disappeared into the trees. other birds noted was a Great Spotted Woodpecker,Blackbird, Great Tit, Blue Tit, a Chiffchaff was heard calling and a Blackcap was singing somewhere in the distance, around the glades, a Magpie, Wood Pigeon, and overhead a Ring necked Parakeet flew over the poplars , no insect sightings this morning which wasn't surprising, but I did find a nice area of Foxgloves which are nearly ready to flower.

1st June
The start of a new month and the start of the meteorological summer, the sun was shining but it still doesn't feel like summer is here yet.
Birdlife around the woods was nearly non-existent, a few Wood Pigeons and an immature Magpie.
Bumblebees were more prominent today with a few tree Bumblebees seen, one White -Tailed Bumblebee and a small Early Bumblebee.

White-Tailed Bumblebee
Tree Bumblebee
Butterflies were represented by a very worn Peacock Butterfly and a Common Blue which would not settle for a photograph.


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