Wednesday 11 May 2022

Kentish Nature Walks #28 - 11th May 2022

With a few jobs to do today there was still time for a couple of ambles before the rain (Yay!!  At last!) set in for the afternoon.  A short walk around the Old Brickfields at Lower Halstow was a little breezy but I could hear a couple of Nightingales in the scrub along with the expected warbler assortment.  There were Reed Warblers in the wet bits closer to the sea wall but the verge there had recently been mowed back at least 5m from the path which seemed completely unnecessary. Tidy Britain – I do hate it. The No Mow May memo had obviously been misplaced.

There were a few Bumbles attempting to find what scant Ground Ivy and Speedwell were left in bloom and Small, Green Veined Whites and Peacocks searching for breakfast.

The tide was most of the way in and smart chocolate, grey and white Black-headed Gulls picked delicately from the surface and I could see two distant colonies on raised green areas way out on the Medway islands.  There were Med Gulls too and a couple drifted past me, seemingly enjoying the breeze.

I suspect the Environment Agency will say it was for 'river wall integrity'...

Black-headed Gull

Med Gull

Starlings probed the banks and down in the last of the exposed seaweed and seemed to be finding food for hungry young still in the nest although I suspect that most insects were gleaned from the grass as the ground was already baked solid by weeks without any noticeable rainfall. A smart male Wheatear hopped towards me on the top of the bank before realising I was there and dashed the other way in a flash of black and white rear end. Two Oystercatchers and a Whimbrel were the only waders I saw and in the distance I counted 35 Dark-bellied Brent Geese paddling around aimlessly.



I came back through the scrub where of course the Nightingales were now silent but there a selection of Hoverflies for me to look at including my first Parhelophilus sp of the season and a few racing Brimstones and Orange Tips.  The air was full of dancing small flies and a blizzard of drifting Sallow fluff.

Myathropa florea

Helophilus pendulus

Pisaura mirabilis

Musca autumnalis


Celery-leaved Buttercup

A Figwort I think



Hawthorn - if only there was scratch and sniff images

Ground Ivy - away from the mowers

A Red Kite was chased over Rainham on my way out towards the A2 before I cut down the A249 to try and check out an Orchid site that I would like to take people to over the next couple of weeks. Roadworks made access tricky but I found my way in and was greeted by well over 150 dazzling Lady Orchid spires in their usual array of ‘dress’ shapes and tints.

With Black Bryony trying to get a grip...

Lady Orchid

The Lesser Butterfly Orchids were also doing rather well with three spikes already up and flowering and two more to go while the Early Purple Orchids up amongst the Yew trees were very nearly over although once again I found the almost white-lilac one with its strangely shaped flowers. 

Lesser Butterfly Orchid

Early Purple Orchid -
they all seem very tall here and loose flowered

I looped round passing the glorious Columbines and a single spike of Yellow Archangel and back at the car the first few inches of Broad-leaved Helleborines were showing. 

Broad-leaved Helleborine


Yellow Archangel

Wood Melick - one of my favourite spring sights -
like little tiny snails climbing grass stems

With the wind increasing I forwent any further orchid explorations for the day  and headed for home as the sky continued to darken.

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