What a superb day on the North Kent Marshes! I attended a walk arranged on the RSPB reserve at Northward Hill, and led by Malcolm and Roger. The purpose to find butterflies and damselflies.
We saw 12 species of butterfly: large white, small white, marbled white, small skipper, ringlet, gatekeeper, green-veined white, red admiral, meadow brown, small heath and the most exciting sightings of the day were purple hairstreak and white letter hairstreak. Roger demonstrated the lemon-scented pheremone of the green-veined white male, which was fascinating to experience.
We also identified two species of moth (although there were in fact quite a few day-flying moths that we did not concentrate on),shaded broad-bar scotopteryx chenopodiata and cinnabar tyria jacobaeae. We also saw many caterpillars of the cinnabar on ragwort.
This afternoon we moved to Cliffe Pools, RSPB reserve trying to find the reported Lestes barbarus – southern emerald damselfly or migrant spreadwing (spreadwing due to the way it holds its wings). The track leading to the side of the reserve we were interested in is rutted and much comment was made about the lack of use of the accelerator! However after a long and tedious journey we finally reached the area of interest. There were five gents scouring the ditches on the side of the fields, and before too long we had caught up with a successful group. They believed they were looking at a female. In fact after referring to the book, and after we had managed to get one in a tube for closer examination, we realised they had a male and we also found a female for comparison.
As we watched we also found scarce emerald damselfly lestes dryas and the more we looked the more blue-tailed damselflies we saw, including one of the ‘heterochrome’ form.
Thanks to Malcolm and Roger for leading a great walk and for identifying so many species for us, many of them a first for me.