Tuesday 21 August 2018

Blue is the Colour - North Kent 21st August 2018

With a few jobs out of the way before nine I headed outdoors with the intent of going on a butterfly hunt. It was warm, humid and the sun was trying very hard to break through.

Sunglasses on and off down the M2 where I found a solid wall of low cloud that looked suspiciously like rain but with none forecast I thought it would pass and so I pressed on to a site near Lenham where I then spent the next half hour reading my book in the car while it persistently rained.

Deciding that this was not going to be an invert day I headed north and back out of the gloom on a route that would avoid Sittingbourne on my way to Oare Marshes but with the all important route closed, I was forced to endure the horror that is currently the middle of the town one way system.  It was starting to feel like things were conspiring against me...

I eventually made it to Oare and to my surprise the tide had only just turned and the East Flood was covered in waders. They were mainly Black-tailed Godwits and Redshank but with a smattering of Dunlin, Ruff and Avocet and about 200 Golden Plover. A solitary juvenile Little Ringed Plover fed way over the back and a Common Sandpiper flicked across the pool.   

Of any different calidrids there was no sign and I had just missed the Bonaparte’s Gull so I ambled down to the Swale where he was immediately on view methodically walking across the newly exposed mud collecting worms. 

Bonaparte’s Gull

Sixty-nine Common Terns loafed on the mud in one flock with tree juvenile Black Terns among them while four more Blacks were off shore with some more Commons.  A juvenile Common Gull fed along the tideline and 22 summer plumaged Grey Plovers were on the Harty side of the river.

A Curlew Sandpiper flew over calling with some Dunlin but did not stop. Nice to know that I have remembered this one!

A few Yellow Wagtails called while I walked back to the car and a quick check of some flowering Fleabane produced several fly species including an Eristalinus sp which I think was aeneus, Eristalis tenax, a tiny Soldier Fly and the tachinid, Eriothrix rufomaculata.

Eristalinus sp

Eristalinus sp

Eriothrix rufomaculata

Soldier Fly - I think
With sunshine to the south I decided to heath back to the Downs but chose Queendown Warren as it was easier to get to what with the horrors of Sittingbourne and the road closures affecting Faversham.

The sun stayed with me and I enjoyed a wondrous visit with the place to myself and only the swathes of scented Marjoram and Thyme and the countless Butterflies for company. Me time...


Basil Thyme

I remembered being caught out last year by the number of Common Blues here and in fact only saw that species but this time it was different and although most of the blues seen were Common, I did get some superb views of shining electric blue Adonis although they do not really like to sit with their wings open.

Common Blue
Adonis Blue

Adonis Blue

Adonis Blue

Adonis Blue

Adonis Blue

Adonis Blue with my Canon SF60

Adonis Blue - same insect with my Galaxy S9+ phone.... ridiculous...

Brown Argus was the commonest butterfly with dozens flitting around and engaging in frantic courtship chases. The size variation in this species was as usual, surprising.

Brown Argus

Brown Argus

A single female Holly Blue was found and at least three Chalk Hill Blues flounced about in more bouncy flight compared to the directness of the others.

Holly Blue

Chalk Hill Blue

Chalk Hill Blue

There were still many Meadow Browns about although most were tatty along with a couple of Gatekeepers and two immaculate Small Heaths while all three Whites were seen.

Meadow Brown

Small Heath

Large White

One more species found its way onto the list with a pair of dazzling Silver Spotted Skippers careening around but thankfully stopping long enough for me to creep up on them and endure the pain of the micro thistle rosettes within the rabbit cropped turf!  They are such stunning little butterflies.

Silver Spotted Skipper

Silver Spotted Skipper

Unsurprisingly there were other insects too with Migrant and Southern Hawkers patrolling the edges and rides and Common Darters zipping out after prey from favourite perches.  Honeybees and a few tatty bumblebees droned about, favouring the Marjoram while I picked up several Tachina fera and once again the hulking Nowickia ferox. 

Lasioglossum calceatum - Common Furrow Bee

Lasioglossum calceatum - Common Furrow Bee

Tachina fera

One of the larger Robber Flies

Buzzard overhead

It was actually getting too hot and the breeze was picking up so I returned to the car pleased with my efforts before taking the scenic route home.

1 comment:

  1. Nice haul Howard. Although the Adonis is only a shade blue different, they just stand out. A lovely Butterfly. Nice Skipper and Chalk Hill.