IThe strong NE winds of the last few days have gone and this morning was baking! Apart from about 10,000 visitors butterflies included the first Small and Large Whites for over three weeks and obviously increased numbers of other species; Meadow Browns and Marbled Whites in particular. We’re off to Dorset for a few days, so see you next week.
Although it was duller than forecast, today was warm and humid and butterflies responded accordingly, with 49 on the weekly BMS transect walk – easily the best week of the year so far and the first on which something was recorded in each section. The highlight was the summer’s first Small Skipper.
Arriving in time to attempt the butterfly transect, the sun disappeared and spots of rain began to fall. Ho hum. However, a Blackneck was found on the field at the top of the valley ….
This morning felt like the first day of summer and butterflies responded accordingly with the first records this year of Marbled White and Ringlet, the latter setting a new earliest emergence date for the South Foreland. 2 Brimstones were the first for nearly a month and both Adonis Blue and Dingy Skipper were on the wing, even if they were a bit tatty. Avian interest included 3 Buzzards over the bottom of the valley and a Sand Martin that seemed to come in off the sea. A Galium Carpet was in Mark’s moth trap.
Some moderate rain early on was nothing compared to last night’s pyrotechnics and patches of flood water along the roads testified to the intensity of the downpours. The morning’s main highlight was 16 Painted Ladies and 3 Red Admirals along the cliff and on the farm tracks (curiously there were none north of the lighthouse), while the usual avian hiatus was interrupted by a brief flurry of 20 Swifts flying SW.
A visit purely to carry out the weekly butterfly transect was in time to catch the last of some departing sea fret that had clipped this part of the coast. Although it was warm – 17 degrees and 100% sunny – numbers remained low, although the 13 butterflies that had the good grace to show did include the first Large Skippers and Meadow Browns of the year, around two weeks later than they first emerged at Sandwich Bay.
A rather optimistic attempt to find some new butterflies, given another bout of foul weather which left rather windy conditions this morning, although it was a good deal brighter. Only five species presented themselves for inspection and numbers clearly remain subdued but one bright spot was a family party of Lesser Whitethroats in the valley.
Conditions were good for the weekly butterfly transect, with a temperature of 14 degrees and 100% sunshine, but numbers reflected the wet and windy conditions of the last few days, as did the wind-blown twigs and leaves torn from the wooded areas of the valley. Only ten butterflies of five species were evident, though they did include the second Painted Lady of the year.
It was the turn of moths to provide most of today’s interest, with two micro species at the top of the valley that are always a delight at this time of year. Nemophora degeerella has antennae long enough to get the BBC World Service on them and Alabonia geoffrella, while perhaps not uncommon, is a riot of features in a tiny package.
Still fairly soggy after yesterday’s downpour, all was pretty quiet except for a noisy reception for the local Buzzards by corvids doing what crows do best, but the best bit of the morning, in some patchy sunshine, was a Painted Lady on the farm track; a long overdue first of the year.
A visit largely to carry out the weekly butterfly transect was pretty uninspiring, to be honest, but was rescued from complete disappointment by a Honey-buzzard soaring inland at midday.