Thursday 25 March 2021

Kentish Nature Walks #1 - Crabbles Bottom Orchard - 25th March 2021

So after two days back at work I had to have a day working from home to catch up on obligatory training courses and wade through about 2000 emails from the last 12 months so I decided to make the most of it and still got up early to tinker in the garden and give it a water before I had to turn on the pc.

It is amazing how quickly things have come on up there on the Woodland Floor and the fortuitous haircut that one of the big Sycamores had at the hands of some local Tree Surgeons has actually let more light into my garden from the south than the garden behind who paid for the service!


Scalped Sycamore - and yes the back does look like that on purpose!

I pressed on with my ‘official tasks’ early on and finished in time to make myself go out for a walk (although I may have driven a short way to save some time!).  A Buzzard circled overhead as I crossed the road from the house and the Ornamental Cherries are starting to achieve full bloom and with them the associated Honey Bees.

Common Buzzard


The roadside spread of Celandines and Dead Nettles was magnificent and with some sunshine on the flowers there were Buff-tailed Bumbles in attendance as well as two male Anthophora plumipes.  I had to ask Enid for help on another oddity that looked like a Mallow flower on a Salad Burnet leaf which turned out to be Erodium moschatum – the Musk Storksbill. 

Musk Storksbill - Erodium moschatum 

Lesser Celandines including some almost white ones

Down at Great Crabbles Wood I started on the inside track in the hope of finding some more spring bloom a bit further on than last week and I was not disappointed with little patches of Wood Anemones nodding their pearly white heads in the breeze and a few little pastel green Moschatel flowers almost invisible against the leafy back drop.


Wood Anemone

Male Brimstone and Peacock drifted through from the outside track so I changed sides and spent a fine hour walking up and down the woodland edge.  The cool breeze and intermittent sunshine was keeping insects low but with a little patience I was rewarded with some good encounters.

Dark-edged Bee Flies were zipping around all over the place and I counted 31 on this stretch.  There were plenty of Buff-tailed Bumblebees emerging from within the low down foliage so they should manage to find suitable hosts if the Bees hurry up and start breeding.

Dark-edged Bee Flies

There were a few Hovers too with Eristalis pertinax in the majority along with a couple of Erisitalis tenax and Episyrphus balteatus, three furry Cheilosia grossa and a male Eupeodes sp.

female Cheilosia grossa

female Cheilosia grossa

female Cheilosia grossa

female Eristalis pertinax 

male Eristalis pertinax 

male Eristalis pertinax 

male Eristalis pertinax - all very variable but note the pale feet on the front two pairs of legs

female Eristalis tenax - hairy eye band and darker feet visible

female Eristalis tenax - hairy eye band and swollen hind femora visible

Episyrphus balteatus

male Eupeodes

There were a few other flies including some Calliphora and a slightly golden Pollenia but I was also pleased to find a single Eudasyphora cyanella which I first observed last April up at Ranscombe. I may not always remember the names but I do recall where and roughly when I see things and just have to have a quick shufty back through my old walks.

Eudasyphora cyanella

Pollenia sp

There were four Butterfly species on the wing with the aforementioned limey Brimstones and eyed Peacocks but I also saw two Small Torts and five immaculate Commas.





I found my first flowering Barren Strawberries of the year which were attended by tiny bees and a couple of Andrena species that again I think may be A. clerkella as well as a fine fully ginger Andrena fulva – the Tawny Mining Bee who was on the highly scented Blackthorn flowers but eluded my camera. At least this is a very distinctive species!

Barren Strawberry

Barren Strawberry

Clerk's Mining Bee - Andrena clerkella

Clerk's Mining Bee - Andrena clerkella and Andrena minutula agg friend


Wolf Spiders were hunting through the leaf litter and I found several immature Pisaura mirabilis sunning on Nettles while Seven Spot and Kidney Spot Ladybirds were also seen.

Kidney Spot Ladybird

Nursey Web Spider - Pisaura mirabilis

Nursey Web Spider - Pisaura mirabilis

Dog's Mercury

Med Gulls called overhead frequently and I heard but did not see Lesser Redpolls, Siskins and Bullfinches but Chiffchaff was the only avian sign of incoming visitors.

Med Gull

This woodland edge corridor was one of my favourite places to visit for insects last year and the mix of the mature Oak and Sweet Chestnut woodland of Great Crabbles with its wonderful forest flora merges seamlessly with the chalk pastures, Blackthorn scrub and old Apple trees of Crabbles Bottom Orchard. 

I will certainly be making and effort to visit often over the coming months.

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