Monday 6 July 2020

Green Urban Birding: The Higham Loop 6th July 2020

After another weekend largely keeping out of the way of the rest of the human race, I decided to get my boots on whatever the weather this morning and go somewhere on foot.

So, I made my way up to Rede Common en route to wherever my feet took me.  The grasses were waving in the breeze but the persistent strong wind of the last week had dwindled somewhat but it was still not very warm at all.  There were a few flies and Honey Bees on the Hogweed and Meadow Browns and Red Admirals were on the wing so it was pleasing that a lone
Dark Green Fritillary thought it was warm enough to and even stopped for breakfast.  Rob says that this is the first site record and I actually feel quite guilty given the amount of time he has spent looking on the reserve.

Dark Green Fritillary

Dark Green Fritillary

There were more Honey Bees and Bumbles on the patches of vibrant Rosebay Willowherb and while checking for Hairstreaks once again, I found another area of Hogweed that was being attended by quite a few Andrena flavipes with their stripy bodies and tell tale orange hind legs as well as a furry Cheilosia illustrata.  

Rosebay Willowherb

Andrena flavipes

Cheilosia illustrata

Cheilosia illustrata

Wild Leeks dotted the grassland and Commas and Ringlets basked out of the breeze on a sunny patch of Brambles.  If every spent flower becomes a berry it will be a good season.  The first Yarrow was in flower and as usual I found a couple of problematic flies!


Wild Garlic (Allium vineale) not Ramsons

Budding Blackberries


A robber fly (Asilidae) Dioctria baumhaueri - after the valuable input of Phil Collins

Thereva nobilitata

The view east over Chatham and the Medway to the Sheppey bridges

I crossed over the A2 and walked up to Crutches Lane passing the spoil heap with the great clumps of Caper Spurge. It is now adorned with several nice Common Mallow, Large Flowered Evening Primroses and two Hollyhocks!

Large Flowered Evening Primroses

I made my way down to Crabbles Bottom Orchard and the woodland edge Brambles and meadows. The sun kept coming and going but I stuck with it and although quieter than recent visits it still produced some good insects.

Episyrphus balteatus was the commonest Hoverfly along with quite a few chunky Syrphus and I only saw two Volucella pellucens and no V.inflata although there was a single V.zonaria dashing around. Eumerus sp and Sphaerophoria scripta were noted and there were a couple of Scaeva pyrastri on the meadow which was covered in patchy carpet of Marjoram and yellow Lady’s Bedstraw.

Scaeva pyrastri

Eumerus sp


Lady’s Bedstraw.


Ribwort Plantain


I was pleased to find another clump of Wild Liquorice

There were several Nomad Bees and I was having trouble identifying them (as usual) and so popped them on the BWARS FB page. It turns out that part of my problem was that one of them was only recorded in the UK for the first time in 2011 and cropped up in Kent in 2016 so Nomada zonata is not even in my book!

Nomada zonata

Nomada zonata

Nomada marshamella 2nd generation

And this little female bee would turn out to be Andrena furcata - another new species

A few tatty Marbled Whites were around along with many fresh Peacocks and a few Red Admirals. Ringlets and Meadow Browns were on the Brambles.

Marbled White



Green-veined White
Pollenia sp

Pollenia sp

Heyda salicella - a superb large bird poo micro moth

I followed the path through to Bowesden Lane but there were no Andrena florea on the Bryony this time and much of it had already gone to berrie

White Bryony fruits and Goosegrass

Up amongst the big houses I heard what sounded like a Firecrest calling in an area where I thought I heard one in May.  It was very noisy but I was cautious as my garden Goldcrests do a very convincing Firecrest ‘peep’.  Fortunately I did not need to worry and I found it and the reason for its agitation. A Squirrel working its way carefully through the Holly and the Firecrest was going potty.  I suspect that there was a nest in there somewhere as the bird, when it appeared, had obviously had a tough season with ragged plumage and no tail what so ever. But that crest!  It was fully turned out making its whole head glow like an orange beacon.  The Squirrel seem non plussed and moved across the road with the tiny ball of anger close behind.  Shame that the sun had disappeared but so great to see such a performance.

Like the last time I crossed straight over Peartree Lane and down across the paddock to Starmore Wood. The path was now a little overgrown but I made it through, seeing a Sicus ferrugineus and Xylota sylvarum almost on the same leaf although one was waiting for an unsuspecting Bee and the other was hoovering up sap.

Sicus ferrugineus

Xylota sylvarum

Xylota sylvarum



You could smell the Hogweed but most was just out of my reach and those heads I found were dotted with numerous Red Soldier Beetles, Lucilias and Sarcs.  There were a few Episyrphus balteatus, Myathropa florea and two Eristalis arbustorum in attendance. 

Eristalis arbustorum

Underfoot in the wheat field margin was a carpet of Pineapple Weed and the scent was delightful and triggered memories of similar historic fieldside walks as i can’t remember the last time I even saw the plant.  Amongst it was a daisy type flower and the scratch and sniff test revealed nothing at all and so, Scentless Mayweed.

Pineapple Weed

I did not divert into Shorne this time but cut off towards Court Wood which became another piece of coppice with a big keep out fence half way through it and it looked like it is heavily used by mountain bikes. The meadow in the corner was magnificent though with glorious patches of Black Knapweed, Willowherb, Creeping and Spear Thistle.  There were butterflies everywhere in this sheltered warm field and a Blue Eyed Hawker was circling for prey with a two juvenile Kestrels higher up doing the same thing.

Large White and Peacock

Large White

Spear Thistle

Spear Thistle
Sow Thistle

The path brought me out onto the Gravesend Road just as my daily Med Gull flew over. The views down over the Thames were magnificent with two huge vessels in at DP World and the river itself a snaking blue line through arable, marsh and industry way off to Southend in the distance.

Med Gull

It began to cloud up so I stayed on the road on the way back from here with little to report bar some verge Pyramidal Orchids and Marjoram clumps and a couple of Swedish Whitebeam to add to the pretend tree list.

Swedish Whitebeam

1 comment:

  1. Definitely some highlights on this walk Howard. Nice read.