Phil of the White Cliffs Countryside Project came up with another gem for me this week, and guided me to a small population of Lesser Centaury on the downs above Folkestone. All of a sudden my difficulties in trying to distinguish Lesser from Common vanished, as they are stunningly tiny little plants, unlike the larger commoner version.
To assist, the flowers were placed side-by-side, and the Lesser immediately seems smaller, narrower petalled, and a deeper colour.
Lessons are quickly forgotten, however, and when I don't have the two together I start making mistakes again. These on the rifle range were appropriately small, deep coloured, but just look at those petals.
A blokish hour or so was spent watching migrant warblers at Hope Point, with the usual banter. A Lesser Whitethroat was relatively showy and exercised the paparazzi, while I was happy with what I managed from a sitting position.
On one lawn on the clifftop are about 400 Autumn Lady's Tresses spikes, while at the two gardens in the village are 38 and an estimated 500 plants, compared with 44 and 150 last year. They have emerged about a week earlier than in the last two years.
At Lydden, a smattering of Tresses have popped up, with Autumn Gentians also looking more frequent than in previous years. Devil's Bit Scabii are slowly blooming. On the butterfly front, however, Chalkhill Blues are almost absent now, having had a numerically very poor year I think, but Adonis Blues......
.... and Silver-Spotted Skippers are around, perhaps in lower numbers than last year but it's early yet.
The cloud cover was capricious, but the breeze was lovely and warm and the weekend finished with a fine sunset.