After my extended Cobham loop on the 12th, the
rest of the week was a bit of a squib (can’t really be a damp one as it did not
I headed back out in the grey and chill of the 13th
and made my way back up to Ranscombe under the strange notion that I now knew
where the orchids were. I was mistaken!
It was a funny old walk with little to photograph or even see but I did find
another clump of Long Stalked Cranesbill (Geranium columbinum) which was nice
and I added a few territories but little else.
|Long Stalked Cranesbill (Geranium columbinum) |
However, I did find the route back to Bligh Way this time
which took me to the Eurostar and then alongside it all the way back. There is even a green wildlife bridge about
half way along where I encountered a family party of Bullfinches which was a
pleasant surprise and a patch of Early Purple Orchids still hanging on under
|Early Purple Orchid|
The 14th was bright to start with but very chilly
and it became a three layers and a hat loop that took me back up through
Crutches Lane which I have been told by several local people is pronounced
Croochez... I tried not to laugh.
I took a new path into Great Crabbles Wood which wended its
way up through the stands of giant Chestnut stools. The wind was getting up and
rattling them together and I should think that it is an eerie place on a dark
winter’s day. Most of these coppiced woods
have a very verdant understorey and this one is no exception.
The Bluebells were now mostly over and
Brambles and Male Ferns were showing their vigour with carpets of Dog’s Mercury
starting to seed and beds of what I am sure is Enchanter’s Nightshade filling
I have been told that Silver Washed Fritillaries and White
Admirals have been seen here in previous years so that is another reason to
come back. Blackcaps, Wrens, Song
Thrushes and Robins were the main songster
territories to add when I got home.
The main path just sort of petered out and headed back down
hill at the point I needed it to keep going up and so I followed the light
track through the Bluebells and somehow popped out on the side of Peartree Lane
which was where I hoped I would get to!
I followed the road down towards Higham passing a splendid Rhododendron
in bloom in one of the palatial front gardens that line this road.
Once in Higham I headed for the church and got myself back
on Hermitage Road. The view from here is
superb and I had not realised on my previous walks that from here you can look
north-east all the way across the Thames to Thundersley and Hadleigh Castle Downs
11 miles away and south–east to the twin Swale crossings 13 miles away.
|Over the Alpha Pit at Cliffe to Essex|
|The Medway and Swale Crossings|
With brooding skies and frozen fingers I cut across to
Dillywood and made for home with only a brief stop to take a picture of the
now very impressive Caper Spurge plant on the spoil heap alongside the A2!
A few days of garden and home ensued as I am still trying to
avoid doing anything at all out and about at weekends but today, the 18th May, saw my first
escape by car since Lockdown.
I fancied some butterfly action and it seemed to be warming
nicely and so a visit to Queendown Warren was in order.
Although not heaving with
insects it was still just what I needed and once at the rabbit exclusion
paddock at the west end I was rewarded with good numbers of Brown Argus, Common
and Adonis Blue on the wing. How they actually make it through a single day
without starving to death I do not know as they almost never seem to stop and
when they do it is just for a few seconds and then they are on their way again.
It seems really unfair on the dazzling male Common Blues
that they should be upstaged by the Adonis but they quite simply are. I used to call the colour electric blue but
now in my head it will always be Morpho Blue.
Whilst pacing up and down the fence line following their
progress I also found a single Grizzled Skipper and a Burnet Companion moth
while I was delighted to see three Green Hairstreaks for the first time this
season. This species has always eluded
me and I have seen it so infrequently so this was a special treat.
|I think these ponies on another part of the reserve were Exmoors|
I could not find any orchids and a solitary male Garden
Warbler was the best bird before I headed back and off to Oare Marshes for
lunch and a circuit.
Med Gulls were everywhere and I drove down through a large
group flycatching over the last wheat field and the sound of ‘caooooow’ filled
the air. The tide was mid-level but the mud was devoid of any waders whatsoever
and it felt more like a mid-June than mid-May day.
|2s Med Gull |
An immature Red Kite circled west and Marsh Harriers,
Kestrels and at least five Hobbies were on show for most of my circuit of the
|Shellness Hamlet in the distance looking like an island|
I encountered several species that I had not seen since
Lockdown on the 23rd March but will not be including them on the
list as that is for home and walking only although it was good to see a Lapwing
at last along with Bearded Tits and a small group of roosting Black-tailed
A male Stonechat was also new and was a striking individual with a huge amount of white in the scapulars, pale rump, orange spot on breast and rather oddly finely streaked flanks. I managed one shot before it flew out further onto the marsh.
Godwits, Pochard, mallard and Black-headed Gull|
|Little Egret - it was a little hazy|
Three Cuckoos were being vocal and moving around their territories
and noisy flocks of Starling families were rummaging in the meadow for
leatherjackets. There is something so
late spring about the sudden mass emergence of brown Starlings and the constant
‘cheuw cheuw’ as they demand attention from their beleaguered parents.
|Starlings - ' C'mon Mum feed me that Leatherjacket!'|
|Reed Bunting with a house on Harty Hill behind|
I added Yellow Wagtail and a couple of Avocets on the last
bit of the walk but the place was rapidly filling up with poorly parked cars
and all those other people that thought it was ok to come visit where I wanted
to be so I packed up and headed for home.
Nice collection Howard but it just shows how we take all the diverse range of species at Rainham for granted. We are all looking forward to the opening of the RSPB Reserves.ReplyDelete