Tuesday 17 August 2021

A Working Weekend and Kentish Nature Walk # 21 - 16th August 2021

It was back to work at RSPB Rainham Marshes for the weekend which was the busiest for some time with lots of families despite the very odd weather than could probably be best described as squally with sunny spells.  There were plenty of insects to distract us to educate the public with and I found Gypsy, Oak Eggar and Jersey Tiger Moths once again zooming around on both days and our first 2021 Red Underwings were back under the building in their traditional August day roost spots.  They blend in so well with the concrete. 

Red Underwing

Red Underwing

Four Hawker species were seen including the first male Blue-eyed for a while and I counted 32 Wasp Spiders of various sizes in just one stretch of car park.  Some are now getting quite big and the Orthoptera population was taking a few hits once again.

Wasp Spider


I checked the Globe Thistles regularly and amongst the Bumbles and Honeys I was pleased to find a Coelyoxis (Sharp-tailed) Bee visited all too briefly while a Trichius gallicus Bee beetle was the first for over a month and thankfully coincided with the arrival of several of the local insect lovers who missed them the first time.  It was a bit of a bully and frequently pushed Bumbles out of the way with no good reason what so ever.  My first site Eriothrix rufomaculata of the year and a couple of Greenbottles were also in attendance.

Trichius gallicus

Greenbottle - Lucilia sp

Eriothrix rufomaculata and Honey Bee

There was some quality Volucella hoverfly action with both zonaria and inanis performing in the Wildlife Garden where the Mint Moths and same Spider species were still to be seen although the Araneus diadematus are growing very quickly now.  I saw one wrap up a small Parasitic Wasp that promptly got back out but not away.  I thought it had actually released it but after a brief pause she went back in and did the job properly at the second attempt.


Volucella inanis

Volucella inanis

Volucella zonaria

Araneus diadematus -  Riccarelli Alessandro

I opened up one morning on a quick bike circuit and saw two each of Great White and Cattle Egret and 54 Black-tailed Godwits were on the Target Pools.  There were lots of Larinioides sclopetarius Orb Weavers in the MDZ leaving nothing to chance across the windows inside and out.

Cattle Egrets - the juvs - Pete Merchant

Cattle Egret

Larinioides sclopetarius

Rather oddly my weekend highlight was a recently deceased Mole that Ben R brought in from to trail show us.  Like Shrews, they just seem to run out of steam.  The feet were amazing and warranted a close look.  They are proper shovels with wicked claws although a good nail brush should have been on his now not needed shopping list.


On Monday morning I headed over to have a walk around George’s Bulphan farm again. It was grey and cool and there was little wildlife to see this time bar some Yellowhammers and so after walking a few hedges and ditches I headed for home.  I had planned to meet up with Nicole late afternoon and so with a little time to spare I stopped at Queendown Warren on my way down to Blean.

The wind was getting up but I found a few sheltered spots and I was rewarded with a single of the hoped for Silver Spotted Skipper along with some dazzling Chalkhill, Adonis and Common Blues.

Silver Spotted Skipper







Brown Argus were numerous and there were still many Meadow Browns on the wing although everything was keeping low.  Rufous, Field and Meadow Grasshoppers were found along with a few Hoverflies.  A miniscule Paragus sp was probably the most notable.

Brown Argus

Brown Argus

Brown Argus

Brown Argus

Meadow Brown

Meadow Brown

Paragus sp - c5mm long

imm Field Grasshopper

Rufous Grasshopper

There were lots of other flies to study but the wind was making them tricky to snap.  Most seemed to be Tachinids (which Phil C has confirmed) but as usual with these spiky bummed flies, you need more than a couple of passable shots to give you a chance of an id. At least Eriothrix rufomaculata is straightforward enough!

probably Exorista of the rustica group

Eriothrix rufomaculata

There were a few small Bees amongst the many Bumbles and one has been suggested as Melitta tricincta.  A fantastically furry Bumblebee feels to me like it should be Bombus muscorum but once again I have failed to get it confirmed.  Strangely enough I can think of more interesting things to do than lay around with a bee’s genital capsule...

Could this be Bombus muscorum?

Melitta tricincta has been suggested

I did find one unequivocal new species for me with a very smart Red Poplar Leaf Beetle in shades of Pillarbox and shiny green.

Red Poplar Leaf Beetle -Chrysomela populi

Two Robberflies were seen which I think I have identified and I was pleased to find three tiny spires of Autumn Ladies Tresses already flowering.

Machimus atricapillus

Machimus atricapillus - I think they may both be the same

Field Scabious

Autumn Ladies Tresses

I met up with Nicole and had an amble around her local farmland loop which included several spots where the farmers already have good field margins and she hopes to convert them further to helping the local Turtle Doves and other wildlife. Rain was threatening but there was still plenty to see with a fair Hoverfly selection including the two bog Volucellas and Xylota segnis.

Volucella inanis

Volucella zonaria

Xylota segnis

The first mature Speckled Bush Crickets of the year joined Roesel’s and Dark in song and we disturbed a Maple Pug and Brimstone moth from cover as well as finding Apodia bifractella on Fleabane (thanks Antony).

Speckled Bush Cricket

Speckled Bush Cricket

Maple Pug

Apodia bifractella

Wasp and Labyrinth Spiders were found along with a Leiobunum rotundum Harvestman.  There was plenty of other spider food around with Eriothrix rufomaculata once again and very large Phaonia that Phil thinks may be P valida due to the large size.

Wasp Spider

Leiobunum rotundum

Phaonia valida

Yellow Dung fly

Eriothrix rufomaculta

We saw a couple of Migrant Hawkers and Common Blue Damsels and a young Lizard was trying to find some warmth on a log.  Butterflies were thin on the ground with just a few Browns, Comma and Speckled Wood and the fruiting bodies of Lords and Ladies were thrusting up through the leaf litter under the hedges.

Tufted Vetch

Common Lizard

Speckled Wood

Lords and Ladies

Common Blue Damselfly


Starlings were gathering in the fields and a scruffy male Whitethroat was feasting on Blackberries as we turned for home and within a few minutes of the kettle going on it started to rain.



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