I know that these walks start to get a little repetitive but in trying to venture out there are only so many routes that I can take to get going and as such it was back up my road at nine this morning before making my way up onto Rede Common.
It was another glorious sunny morning with blue, unclouded skies. The council verge butchers had been out and massacred the wonderful flower filled grass banks outside the houses in Columbine but those responsible for collecting litter and removing the piles of fly tipped household, shed and bed rubbish seemingly only pick and chose what they collect.
The smell of warm Hogweed (as opposed to the other sort of weed one generally smells on a walk up my road) lured me onto the common and the flouncy heads were already being visited by scores of Greenbottles, Honey Bees, a few Hovers and a black and yellow Sawfly that I have been told is Macrophya Montana.
|Gravid Oedemera nobilis
|Rosebay Willowherb almost open
|The first Tufted Vetch
|Catsear, (Hypochaeris radicata)
|Rough Hawksbeard (Crepis biennis) or similar
|Rough Hawksbeard (Crepis biennis) or similar - more work needed! Thanks to Enid for the input
The local Swifts were keeping low but it was quite as you would expect with so many species breeding.
I dropped down towards Crutches Lane and encountered a lady slogging back up the hill. We stopped to allow a car to pass and she alluded to the number of times she had faced the hill back up to her house so I asked her why it was called Kroo-ches but spelt Crutches. She told the tale of three pilgrims who were hung on crosses on the old Watling Street at the top of the hill on their way to Canterbury (she did not say why or whether it was voluntary!) and the old Kentish word for cross is Crutch but pronounced Krooch. At least I now know that it is not merely a case of Bouquets and Buckets!
|Small Tortoiseshell - my first for a while
|Goastbeard - still open in the shade
Anyway, once under the A289 I headed into Great Crabbles Wood once again but stayed on the lower path that I walked on my first visit. It is amazing how different a wood feels once the canopy shrouds the floor with only an ever moving patchwork of light fragments dancing ahead of you as you walk. I was chancing my luck for some early Silver washed Fritillaries but only encountered Speckled Woods but I did find two adjacent meadows within the old Crabbles Orchard which had Trefoil and Ragged Robin and a numbers of Yellow Meadow Ant hills which points to its age. It looks good for other butterflies here so I shall return.
|Some more flowering Stinking Iris
|A small chalk excavation held togther by roots
|Yellow Meadow Ant hills
I came out on Bowesden Lane and walked up past some very large properties with even nicer gardens with me redesigning them (too many firs) as I went.
I spied some White Bryony growing along a fence line and thought to check for the Ladybird but instead I found Bryony Bee which was excellent. At least six were busy attending the blooms.
|Bryony Bee - Andrena florea
|Bryony Bee - Andrena florea
At the Ridgeway I decided to strike out across the road onto another footpath and followed it down through some paddocks with Swallows, House Martins and Swifts for company before spooking a Buzzard from the hedgeline who mis-timed his flight into the path of two miffed Carrion Crows.
|A very rusty Swallow
|Buttercups in a silted pond
|And off went the Buzzard
The Ash and Chestnuts in Starmore Wood alongside held the usual suspects but the path sides were lush with Brambles, Nettles and Great Willowherb and Bumble and Honey Bees were on almost every bloom.
|male Red-tailed Bumblebee- Bombus lapidarius
|Tree Bumblebee- Bombus hypnorum
|A tatty Comma
A few Eristalis intracaria and Syrphus ribesii were seen along with faded Andrena scotica and rather belatedly my first Green Longhorn moth (Adela reaumurella) of the season.
|Green Longhorn moth (Adela reaumurella)
|Towards Cliffe Pools, Coryton and DP World
I was surprised at the lack of Skylarks from the adjacent wheatfields and spied a young Fox watching my passage with inquisitive eyes.
A line of old Willows hinted a stream but it was mostly underground with just a little pool on the surface and so I followed it into Shorne and then up past the church and little byway with the most quintessentially old English Parish signs I have come across.
|Milk Thistle (Silybum marianum)
|One front garden was full of Black Sheep - perhaps Welsh Mountain?
|St Peter's & St Pauls, Shorne
|St Peter's & St Pauls, Shorne
At the top I turned into the northern edge of Shorne CP which was slightly tricky due to the huge pile of flowers in plastic and a group of mourners. I politely asked if I could come through them and the gate that was so adorned. The scrubby piece of wood and paddocks was also dotted with wrapped bunches of flowers and beer cans. It was all a little uncomfortable; like the whole section had been enshrined.
My path took me through a paddock with some very chunky horses who were most definitely with child and I said hello as I crossed to the adjacent gateway and into a narrow alley way through to Woodlands Lane and another entrance back into the country park.
|Another exciting Public Footpath!
I had still barely seen anyone all day but that soon changed as I got further into the woods. I was aiming for the fishing ponds and hopefully a dragonfly or two.
|Emperor at 30yards with my Bridge... passable. I also saw Four-spot Chasers, Black-tailed Skimmers and three other Damselfly species
|Spiked Water-milfoil (Myriophyllum spicatum)
The view that greeted me was simply astonishing given the current situation. I know that restrictions have been somewhat relaxed but group gathering and social distancing is still very much in force but with the place was rammed to overflowing with big groups picnicking, playing football, getting beered up while fishing with all their mates and simply pretending that nothing has and is still happening. It was like a Bank Holiday Monday minus the beach. Navigating a path through the throng was tricky as I made my way hastily towards the exit. Even that was traumatic as the huge car park was completely full with extra cars parked around the edges and others waiting for gaps and there was a queue waiting to get in and to use the single P&D machine. And it is a Thursday!
|Be more like Red-eyed Damselflies
I left with a few minutes of Odonata for my troubles and cut down the dead end Park Pale back towards Crabbles Orchard and home and even here the cars were parked for about quarter of a mile so that they could walk back up to Shorne!
I rarely get angry but the sheer bloody stupidity of the British public seems to know no bounds. I would imagine that the same people will all be outside their houses tonight cheering and clapping for the NHS.
I think that I yomped the last three miles home from here with a right cob on as I did not take another picture until I reached my door...