Tuesday 4 April 2023

Kentish Nature Walks - #70 - The Ranscombe Loop - 3rd April 2023

Today was a blue sky day. I was quite taken aback by the vague warmness in the air and the sun beating down and so after a few essential jobs were done I took myself up to Ranscombe just before midday for my first proper spring walk.

A new avian addition...

It was a leisurely circuit that began with vibrant sulphurous male Brimstones chasing each other up and down the rides before veering off after a paler female. These were the first I had seen since the 15th February and they became a feature of the walk and I counted 22 males by the end. 



Brimstone - this one was a male

The sheltered clearing were alive with solitary Bees and most of the larger ones that I found appeared to be Andrena flavipes along with the associated large Nomada flava in attendance.  There were smaller Nomads around along with a host of micro bees that I still pass by – sorry.

Andrena flavipes

Halictus rubicundus - well laden

Andrena flavipes

Nomada flava

Not sure what Andrena he is but I just liked the composition

Nomada fabriciana

Bumblebees were in short supply though with a single Common Carder and a few Buff-tails seen. Dark-edged Beeflies were very evident and every ride of wood edge had several zooming around. Most were low down but I also saw them nectaring high up on the Blackthorn too.

Dark-edged Beeflies

I had several Flies that I wanted to try and find and was pleased to locate a single Gymnocheta viridis and a couple of Eudasyphora cyanella – one a Tachinid and the other a Muscid and both green.  I did not find Ferdinandea cuprea (a Hover) or Gonia picea (a tachinid with very widely spaced eyes) but was very pleased to see my first of the very hirsute Tachina ursina which I think speaks for itself.

Eudasyphora cyanella

Gymnocheta viridis 

Gymnocheta viridis 

Gymnocheta viridis 

Tachina ursina

Tachina ursina

Pollenia with the hairs worn off already

Eristalis pertinax and tenax hovered over the paths and whined away but other than a single Meliscaeva auricollis I saw no other Hoverfly species at all which was disappointing.  Big furry Yellow Dung Flies lurked around the cow pats.

Meliscaeva auricollis

Eristalis pertinax

Yellow Dung Fly - Scathophaga stercoraria

There were other Butterflies too with Peacock, Small Tortoiseshell and Commas all on the wing  and in pristine condition. Seven Spot and Harlequin Ladybirds were out basking and Wolf Spiders scurried through the leaf litter that was disturbed by the rustling of Lizards and the fossicking of noisy Shrews.

Seven Spot Ladybird

A tiny Salticus scenicus

Common Lizard - rare for me to see one well up here

Harlequin Ladybird





Botanically it was a delight to walk through the glades and see scattered splashes of that odd yellow of Primroses that almost has a green hue, amongst the purples and white of Sweet Violets, white Barren Strawberries, lime clusters of Wood Spurge and sunshine yellows of Lesser Celandines.  I found a couple of patches of lilac Lady’s Smock poking through the dead leaves and the Lady Orchid patch is looking very healthy.

Sweet Violets

Sweet Violets

Sweet Violets

Lesser Celandines

Barren Strawberries


Wood Spurge

Dog's Mercury

Ladies in waiting


Spurge Laurel

Despite Kitchen Field being worked there were still some Coltsfoot blooms

Kitchen Field 

pendulous Hornbeam flowers

Metzneria lappella in the very first Burdock head I checked

Lady’s Smock

Chiffchaffs were singing on the whole circuit along with the odd mental Blackcap but there were no other summer visitors.  Great Spotted Woodpeckers were having a serious drum off on the dying Ash trees and were being laughed at by a Green Woodpecker while Treecreeper sang unobserved.

A Marsh Tit suddenly started singing which was a relief as it was starting to look like they had suffered during the winter and I picked him up belting out his notes right alongside me allowing me to get some very pleasing shots.

Marsh Tit - such a joy to have one sit still for a minute

It was just so good to be out in countryside and for what felt like the first time this year to not be cold, wet and windswept.

Sparkling after a facelift

It was even better to come home and find the Firecrest still singing around the garden.  Ten days and counting!

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