Monday 24 May 2021

Kentish Nature Walks # 8 - Ranscombe Loop in more dreay weather 24th May 2021

After another weekend lurking in and around the house and garden, I needed to get out today, at least for a while.  It appeared quite bright with the threat of showers but I remembered to pack my mac and made my way up the Cuxton Road towards Ranscombe passing one of my favourite front gardens which was covered with the velvet ears of Mouse-ear Hawkweed with a few dotted pastel yellow blooms.  There was also a tiny hairy Veronica there that Enid has helped identify as Wall Speedwell which was new to me.

Daisy Power in Strood Cemetery

Wall Speedwell - Veronica arvensis

Smooth Sow Thistle - I think

Mouse-ear Hawkweed

Hoary Cress

Foxglove Tree is now in full flower

I had not gone much further when the sky darkened and thunder rolled and the cold rain fell.  The new coat got a brisk first outing as I sheltered from the worst of it.  I checked on the local Peregrines and they seemed to be doing just fine (albeit a bit damp) and continued up to the Reserve.


It very quickly became a bit of a Geranium Day with a great selection of Crane’s-bills and Stork’s-bills to be found although I have learnt that I need to pay attention to the relative hairiness of stems amongst other things!

Dove's-foot Crane's-bill - Geranium molle & Common Storksbill - Erodium cicutarium

Hedge Cranesbill - Geranium pyrenaecium

Herb Robert - Geranium robertianum

Musk Storks-bill - Erodium moschatum

Round Leaved Cranesbill - Geranium rotundifolium

Small-flowered crane's-bill - Geranium pusillum

Cut leaved cranesbill - Geranium dissectum

I headed up past the still closed tea room car park finding several Cantharis rustica Soldier Beetles feeding on Dandelion blooms but it really getting windy and the next squall was on the way in so I pushed on to The Valley and then skirted around the top of it to get to Kitchen Field.  I managed to get ahead of the weather and the rain passed behind me while a flock of eight Med and four Black-headed Gulls were buffeted as they hunted for insects low over the fields.


Wood Avens & Wood Melick

Med Gull - just a hint of immaturity

Cantharis rustica

Bird's Foot Trefoil

There was little to see insect wise but I did find a very chilly Xanthogramma pedissequum on the ground and my first Empis tessellata of the season and while snapping both these I found the diminutive flowers of Corn Salad and two spires of Common Broomrape pushing through.

Empis tessellata

Xanthogramma pedissequum

Mignonette and White Campion

Corn Salad

Common Broomrape

A set of bee bricks were doing a great job at providing a home for many Red Mason Bees who were constantly coming and going despite the cool weather.  Several tubes were already sealed up.

Red Mason Bees - Osmia bicornis


Creeping Buttercup - Ranunculus repens

note the calyx still furled under flower unlike the recurved ones in Bulbous

The first Field Poppy

I headed up through Kitchen Field and spent some time looking for Orchids at the top.  The Man Orchids are coming along but none were that big or robust but at least they were now partly in flower. One was particularly striking have a green ‘helmet’ and vivid yellow ‘arms and legs’ while a second spike was similar but with just red ‘arms’. 


Man Orchids - variations on a theme

A careful look around revealed quite a few White Helleborines with one or two with flowers that were just open at the very tip.  Most were very short but I found two that were a nearly a foot high. 

White Helleborine


The wind was whipping through the trees so I followed the path around to the Meadow Clary bench where there were several plants with flowers well on the way.  I sat there with my coffee and biscuit and as usual had Sam at my side as I looked at the view.

Meadow Clary

Meadow Clary


It was just too cool, dull and windy to encourage me to explore much further so I cut back up the path by the bench to the main forest trail dislodging single Speckled Yellow and Green Longhorn Moths from the edges and my only Butterfly of the day – a Speckled Wood.   

Green Longhorn Moth

Speckled Yellow


A male Bombus pratorum was feeding on Yellow Archangel and I had not quite noticed how stunning this Nettle is close up and by looking closer I found a groovy Stilt Legged Bug that apparently is not around until July.

Stilt Legged Bug - Metatropis rufescens


Stilt Legged Bug - Metatropis rufescens

Yellow Archangel & Bombus pratorum & Metatropis rufescens

With more rain imminent I got me head down for the rest of the walk but did add Shining and Meadow Cransbills to the Geranium tally!

Shining cranesbill - Geranium lucidum

Still trying to be positive...

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