Sunday, 22 September 2013

Kingsdown born and bred

Just a quick note to advise that the long-tailed blue  colony seen on the Leas in August have successfully produced a new generation which have started to fly.

This is an extremely rare occurrence in the UK and I'm so proud!
There has been debate over whether a pair of blues arrived on the cliffs in the warm winds of July, and procreated there, or alternatively an impregnated female arrived on her own, and laid the eggs that turned into the butterflies in the last generation.
We will never know, but can be reasonably sure that this emergence will be the last well see of them,as they won't be able to survive the winter here.

Unlike our native blues, some of which were found roosting nearby, waiting for the fuss over the continental stars to die down.

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Cloudy Banks

Ever wondered where the song Claudy Banks got its name? No, I thought not. It was a song that I first heard sung by Bob Copper, but it's an old traditional favourite.  I like to think that it refers to clouded yellows on the chalk downs, where this year the species has enjoyed a bumper time.
A brief lunchtime stroll over a nearby acre or two found five of these butterflies, including a very pale one that might have been a Pale Clouded Yellow, or a Berger's Clouded Yellow or (more likely) a helice version of the common race. It was hot so they didn't hang around for a portrait; on the weekend it had been cooler (natch) so the clouded yellows on the beach were more sedentary, absorbing warmth from the pebbles.
Late summer is the best time to be on the Lydden / Temple Ewell nature reserve; not only are the chalkhill blues still swarming in their hundreds, but also the devil's-bit scabious is coming into flower. Centaury is not frequent this year and it's good to see its spiral stamens.
And the glorious Adonis blue is emerging in its second flourish of the year, while silver-spotted skippers are appearing for their only show; if it's a bit cool or cloudy you might be able to warm them up on your hands.

In fact, silver-spotted skippers are best observed in the cool as they move too quickly in the sunshine - we counted over 20 resting in the grass on a small part of the down.
A surprise was an extensive patch of common dodder. The records tell us that it has been seen at the Temple Ewell end but not here, in the middle. A nice find, twisting its predatory self around the scabious but living off bedstraw.

Beware dwarf thistles.....

....and nasty-tasting stink-bugs.