Wednesday, 25 August 2021

Kentish Nature Walks #22 - Enid's Day... 23rd August 2021

Way back in the depths of last summer I promised Enid B that I would at some stage get to show her around some of the botanically and insect rich spots I had discovered on my north Kent lockdown rambles.  The weather had been conspiring in recent weeks to preclude any attempts to get her south of the river to see the Helleborines and such like but all came good on Monday morning and we met up to see what could be squeezed into the rain free window.

Our first spot was those dark Beech and Pine woods that I visited near Snodland a couple of weeks ago and I was confident that the  would still be flowering and I was not to be disappointed with plenty of new waxy blooms on Violet Helleborines on the spikes that were just getting started on my last visit. The light was as challenging as before but Enid’s smile lit up the woods.

Violet Helleborine

Violet Helleborine

Violet Helleborine

Wood Sorrel - only the second Kentish site I have found


It was not the longest of stops before we headed east to The Larches at Detling. Again, I was hoping that site specialities would still be in bloom.

The Yellow Bird’s Nests were mostly over but there were still some small ones pushing through the dark leaf litter like sickly yellow bent fingers.  Those that had finished were developing a single curious seed pod at the very top of the stalk.

Yellow Bird’s Nest

Yellow Bird’s Nest

Yellow Bird’s Nest

From here we walked up into the wood and soon found my next target with numerous Broad-leaved Helleborines still with tightly packed flowers ranging from burgundy through pinks and almost lilacs to green.  Some were now fully going to seed and others still had a flowers at the top yet to open.








Broad-leaved Helleborine

Ploughman’s Spikenard was found pathside and out in the meadow we found Milkwort, Blue Fleabane, various ‘yellow composites’, the usual culinary herbs and best of all several delightful Autumn Gentians with their little purple starry trumpets.  This was a new species for me and I did not know that they were at this site.

Ploughman’s Spikenard 

Blue Fleabane


Autumn Gentians 

Autumn Gentians 


There were some lovely little clumps of Eyebright and Common Centaury and Carline Thistles were coming to the end.

Carline Thistles


Carline Thistles
Eyebright


Field, Meadow and Rufous Grasshoppers were found and amongst the Hovers were a Volucella pellucens and lots of Syritta pipiens. Garden Carpet and Silver Y moths moved up as we walked and I got some rubbish pics of the delightful micro called Euspilapteryx auroguttella that I saw with Antony W last summer here.

Dark Bush Cricket




Variations in Rufous Grasshoppers

Meadow Grasshoppers

Euspilapteryx auroguttella

Volucella pellucens

Pollenia

Garden Carpet

Common Blue


There were a few Bumbles and Lucerne Bugs (Adelphocoris lineolatus) and a magnificent White Spot Fungus Weevil (Platystomas albinus).  The latter seems to be a rare and localised species and was a very smart critter indeed.

Lucerne Bug (Adelphocoris lineolatus) 




White Spot Fungus Weevil (Platystomas albinus)


There were Land Winkles (Pomatias elegans) in the leaf litter and as usual most were empty but we both found a few live ones too for the first time.

Land Winkles (Pomatias elegans)

Our last stop was Queendown Warren where I hoped to add a couple of Butterfliy species to Enid’s list.  The weather even brightened up and the sun poked through resulting in the spectacle of what I call The Shimmer where as if my magic the ground suddenly becomes a flickering scene of dancing Blues and Browns.  Chalkhills were still around with a few smart ones amongst those that had seen better days and several Adonis gleamed with brilliant electric blueness as they flexed their newly minted wings.

Chalkhill Blue

Chalkhill Blue

Adonis Blue

Adonis Blue


Common Blues and many Brown Argus were found and six Silver Spotted Skippers eventually gave a lovely views with some patient tracking. When a SSS wants to move it is off like it has a firework attached to it and keeping your eye on it is somewhat tricky.

Common Blue

Common Blue

Brown Argus

Brown Argus

Silver Spotted Skipper

Silver Spotted Skipper


Meadow Brown

Green veined White

Equally fresh were a deep orange Painted Lady and bold Red Admirals and Brimstones were every bit the eternal butter fly on lemon wings.

 Red Admiral

 Small White

 Small White

Brimstone

Brimstone

Painted Lady

Checking the Wild Carrot patch was very productive with two new self-found Hoverflies for me with Cheilosia bergenstammi which feel like a chunky, hairy eyed C soror and the dapper Melangyna compositarum / labiatarum of which the two species (if they are) are inseparable.  There were plenty of other Hovers with Chrysotoxum festivum, Rhingia rostratatwo Volucella and five Eristalis amongst others.

Melangyna compositarum / labiatarum

Melangyna compositarum / labiatarum

Cheilosia bergenstammi 

Cheilosia bergenstammi 

Cheilosia bergenstammi 

Rhingia rostrata

Rhingia rostrata


Two Rutpela maculata were my first in some time and I once again found Melitta tricincta but at least I knew to look for this grey little bee around the Red Bartsia this time which is where I found them. Silver Y, Onocera semirubella and Pyrausta purpuralis, aurata and despicata represented the day flying moths bit I was surprised to see a late Six Spot Burnet too.

Pyrasuta despicata

Araneus diadematus

Rutpela maculata

The four Grasshopper species were all seen although as usual the Stripe Winged were less than obliging and Tortoise Bug and Harlequin Ladybird were also found as we grubbed our way around the site.

Harlequin Ladybird

Tortoise Bug 

Tortoise Bug 

Tortoise Bug 

Kentish Snail


Being a botanist first and foremost meant that there had to be some quality plants too and the display of Small Scabious was particularly fine along with a new Bedstraw whose name escapes me and so many Autumn Ladies Tresses that there were not enough ‘don’t step on me’ feathers to highlight to the careless of foot.




Autumn Ladies Tresses 

Harebell

Ploughman's Spikenard - a yellower specimen

Great Knapweed

Crosswort

We ambled back pleased with our effort and wondering where five hours had gone so quickly…

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