Thursday 7 July 2022

Kentish Nature Walks #45 Holborough Marshes & Darlands Bank 7th July 2022

A lunchtime invite from Barry Wright to pop out to some local sites ostensibly to look for Clearwing moths was eagerly snapped up.  It was very overcast but humid but good to be out.  Our first stop was Holborough Marshes and although our Clearwing targets were no shows it was pleasant enough with three species of Volucella hoverflieszonaria, pellucens and bombylans along with some good waterside plants in the clear stream with Water Forget-me-not, Pink Water Speedwell, Water Figwort and Meadowsweet.  A couple of Nightingales ‘hweeted’ and croaked at us and could be seen moving in deep cover while House Martins flicked through.

Water Forget-me-not

Water Figwort

Water Figwort - these flower spires were over 2m tall

Pink Water Speedwell

Poecilobothrus nobilitatus

Down by the Medway there river was quiet although an adult Great Black-backed Gull was a surprise.  Common Centaury, Vipers Bugloss and Calamint flowered on the Rabbit cropped margins.


Onwards to Darlands Bank in Gillingham.  I know the site from its banks of Man Orchids but had never ventured it.  It was superb with a mile long managed chalk escarpment decked out in all the usual array of flora with Greater Knapweed, both Field and Small Scabious, Agrimony, Rock Roses and the triumvirate of herbs that are Wild Marjoram, Thyme and Basil.

Mostly young Jackdaws and Carrion Crows - just larking around


just a few Pyramidal Orchids

Greater Knapweed

Greater Knapweed

Eyebright sp - a very small flowered one

Wayfaring Trees were well advanced

A Bug on Marjoram - still working on this one

The sun chose this time to burn through creating a very warm mid afternoon in the open but the slope was suddenly alive with Butterflies with Marbled Whites, Large Whites and Meadow Browns in the majority along with the first Gatekeepers and Chalkhill Blues, newly emerged Brimstones, Small and Common Blue, the three Skippers, Small Tort, Comma, Speckled Wood, Ringlet, Small White and a single Dark Green Fritillary. Proper butterfly magic.

Marbled White

Marbled White

Chalkhill Blue

Chalkhill Blue

Small Blue

Small Blue

Common Blue

Common Blue


We were looking for Six-belted and Orange-tailed Clearwings and both lures did their job with rapidity and within a couple of minutes we had seen both species incredibly well and put the lures away and left them in peace. They are such oddly wondrous creatures appearing and disappearing magically – drawn to the pheromone trap where they circle like odd Wasps.

Six-belted Clearwing

Six-belted Clearwing

Orange-tailed Clearwing

Orange-tailed Clearwing

There were many micro-moths in the herbage and I tried to get a few shots but it was very warm by them and they barely stayed still. I did however find a glowing Pyrausta purpuralis and a stunning Pyrausta nigrata that was incredibly fresh and bright. 

Aethes tesserana 

Pyrausta purpuralis

Pyrausta nigrata 

Eucosma conterminana

Eucosma hohenwartiana

There were several small Plumes and once settled we could see that they were very distinctive – an easy ident for a change - Thyme Plume (Merrifieldia tridactyla).

Thyme Plume (Merrifieldia tridactyla).

Thyme Plume (Merrifieldia tridactyla).

Field and Meadow Grasshoppers were common and I am fairly confident that I found a couple of late instar Stripe-winged Grasshoppers but am happy to be corrected.  Long-winged Conehead late instars were also seen with the females and their sabre shaped ovipositor along with a female Speckled Bush Cricket.

Stripe-winged Grasshopper - sticking my neck out - pronotum indent not sharp and did not appear hairy underneath.

Field Grasshopper 

Meadow Grasshopper 

Speckled Bush Cricket

Seven Spot Ladybird - only two seen and no other species

Arge ochropus

Kentish Snail

We hatched Common Wasps entering their mouse hole nest and there were a couple of good Bombus humilis candidates amongst the Bombus pascuorum seen. It was getting a little too warm and an escape from the sun sent us home after a most successful exploration.

Bombus pascuorum as I can see black hairs

 Common Wasp leaving the burrow

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