We are blessed locally with a number of organisations that organise guided walks, led by experts in their field who are kind enough to pass on their knowledge. I'd recommend them to anyone interested in the subject, as they will be taken to the best places, shown things they might not have noticed and get plenty of background information.
Today a walk led by Fran of the Denge Wood Butterfly Project strolled around Lyminge forest, and despite light drizzle and sparse sunshine managed to clock up a commendable 16 species, including the target White Admiral. Perhaps more pleasing was the sight of two Painted Ladies - looking fresh, so have they hatched from eggs laid by some of the millions of visitors last year?
Fran has done an excellent job of raising awareness of butterfly habitat conservation among landowners and the general public, and the number of known sites for Duke of Burgundy has increased from two to nine while the number of individuals recorded has increased dramatically as well.
We were fortunate to have some skilled botanists on the walk to point out interesting plants, and there were also learned discussions on the origins of round and long barrows. Good company.
Formation mating (1) - hoverflies on surprisingly early Devil's Bit Scabious.
Formation mating (2) - Turnip Sawflies..... I've seen two swarms of these flies recently, while another has been reported in the village. In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, swarms of them would devastate crops, and more recently they have been found on oilseed rape. They probably fly in from the continent in eruption years - has anyone else seen them this year?
And finally.... a sop to the birders out there - a yellowhammer still singing on the Downs.