Monday 15 June 2020

Bees, Beaches, Butterflies and Orchids

14th June 2020

I have tended to stay at homes as much as I can at weekends as places around here have become very busy with people who think that everything is back to normal.  As such after a visit to the farm shop in the morning I set about giving the garden a good water and weed.  Swifts screamed overhead and the Hobby made two roof top height hunting sorties. My own Bramble patch is not drawing in the variety of the one down the road with just a few different bumbles and the inevitable Myathropa florea but my bee tins have at last come to life and the Megachile willughbiella leafcutters are back with their tiny Large Headed Resin Bee (Heriades truncorum) buddies and I spent some time trying to get some shots of these tiny bees before they become covered in pollen and dust from their nest hole excavations.

Large Headed Resin Bee (Heriades truncorum)

Large Headed Resin Bee (Heriades truncorum)

Large Headed Resin Bee (Heriades truncorum)
Megachile willughbiella leafcutter

After dinner I decided to head out for a drive in the hope that things would have quietened down so I headed for Seasalter for a walk along the coastal path.  It was a calm and serene evening with not a ripple on the Swale or a breath of wind.

Two pair of Ringed Plovers were on the shell beach but if they do have nests, how on earth they will succeed given the dog walkers and runners I do not know. I carefully sat down up the top and watched them feed along the tideline in and out of the gently rolling wavelets.

Ringed Plovers

Ringed Plovers

Groups of boisterous Starlings foraged all around and I did look for nice pink and black one but to no avail and so contented myself to watching them probe the short turf and flick over seaweed on the beach in the company of Pied Wagtails and Meadow Pipits out hunting the billions of small flower beetles and tiny flies on the wing.


Pied Wagtail

Towards Whitstable

Wild Carrot

An abundance of Salsify

15th June 2020

I woke up at eight this morning which in my books definitely counts as a huge lay in and after a leisurely breakfast headed off to find Strawberry Banks at Bredhurst.  I had been hearing wonderful things about this site during Lockdown but it took until today to pay it a visit.

I spent a very pleasant few hours wandering through the meadows that cover each side of this old chalk valley with more than enough warmth to encourage butterflies to become active.  Marbled Whites danced amongst Meadow Browns as far as you could see and although not up to Lesvos butterfly blizzard standards, it was still great to see so many flickering in an out of the flowering grasses.

Marbled White

Meadow Brown

A few Small Skipper and Small Heath were amongst them and Summer Chafers kept blundering into me as they sort out the odd Ox-eye daisies in the grass.

Small Heath

Small Skipper

Small Skipper

Med Gulls were a constant feature with flocks drifting back and forth all morning and their melancholy calls echoing across the valley. All three age groups were represented which was good too although I have never seen a 1st summer with the makings of such a good hood.



2nd summer

2nd summer

1st summer

Ears up while eyes were down also gave me three single Crossbills heading south west, a couple of calling Yellowhammers and pairs of Bullfinches at four spots on the circuits.

Back down in the grass there were Field and Meadow Grasshoppers to be found and Roesel’s Bush Crickets around the lusher margins while a both patches of White Bryony that I found had Andrena florea in attendance.

Roesel’s Bush Cricket

White Bryony

Andrena florea

Orchids are the other key attraction here and to begin with it was mostly Pyramidals poking through including a delightful white one.

Pyramidal Orchid

Meadow Grasshopper & Misumena vatia

Misumena vatia

I soon began to find the odd Chalk Fragrant but they were pretty much gone over on the north side of the valley but those on the south side were still going strong and swathes of them were scattered amongst the grass and you did not have to get too close to get the citrus waft of the blooms.  They were mostly a rich pink colour but some were paler.  

Chalk Fragrant Orchids

Common Spotted Orchids were dotted amongst them and I managed to find one pristine Bee Orchid too.   I was also looking for Broad-leaved Helleborine and was pleased to find two plants on the eastern edge. Both had good flower spikes but were quite some way from opening yet so perhaps another visit in another week will be required.

Common Spotted Orchid

Common Spotted Orchid
I think this is a white Common Spotted rather than Chalk Fragrant Orchid

Bee Orchid

Bee Orchid

Broad-leaved Helleborine

Broad-leaved Helleborine

As I descended the slope I could see a gleaming white spire in the grass... 'wonder if that is a Greater Butterfly Orchid' thought I and sure enough that is exactly what it was all by itself out on the meadow and a lovely specimen too.

Greater Butterfly Orchid

I turned through a gate and ambled along the pylon line cutting for a while. It felt good for Dark Green Fritillary and I was very pleased to have one power glide by.  I was hoping it would land on the Spear Thistles but not many had blooms open as yet and only a few Bombus vestalis and pascuorum in attendance. 

Cow Wheat

I did however find my first Ringlets of the year along with Red Admiral, Comma, Large White, Small White and Large Skipper and a couple of floppy Cinnabar and Burnet Companion moths on the wing.



Large Skipper

Myathropa florea and Episyrphus balteatus were the two common hoverflies but I also saw Merodon equestris,  Eristalis pertinax and intricaria, Volucella pellucens and bombylans and amazingly another Volucella inflata.

Merodon equestris

Volucella bombylans

Volucella inflata
Picture Winged Fly

Hairy St John’s Wort was now in full bloom and Hedge Woundwort was pushing through the wild roses and brambles.

Hairy St John’s Wort

Hedge Woundwort

The cloud had started to bubble and although the temperature was still on the up, insect life was quietening down so I began to head back with a family of Marsh Tits roving across the path as my parting highlight.


  1. Another excellent field report. Next time you're there, walk the path from the top of the GBO slope throug the beeches to the clay shoot. In May - Lots of WH and BLH. In the clay shoot lots of GBO, EPO, CSO, GTWB - all has been strimmed to within an inch of its life now. Going the other way on the path you'll see the BNO's.

  2. I really enjoy reading about your walks through nature Howard, keep them coming!