On Tuesday a group of 23 met at Lullingstone Country Park. Sally and I were the last to arrive (sorry – a bit late) but everyone seemed to be quite happy watching a treecreeper from the car park! In recent years it has become practice to add an encouraging note in the programme of what we might see on a trip. For this trip we had
“We hope to see yellowhammer, tits, and warblers in the bushes, and perhaps greywagtails by the river with butterflies and demoiselles too”
No pressure then. Well – a few did hear the yellowhammer and some actually saw it, a chiffchaff was heard (did anyone see it?), blue and great tits were heard and seen, Peter and Karen kept finding all sorts of butterflies and male and female banded demoiselles were spotted even though it was not sunny enough to entice the males to display.
But all sorts of other wildlife gained our attention. Sue spotted and Julie identified a white-legged damselfly by Lullingstone Castle. When they got my attention I said “it can’t be – there are no records of this species on the Darent”. Wrong! Although this male was not easy to see it was definitely a white-legged damselfly – as you can see from Julie’s photograph. When I go home I checked the distribution of this species in my copy of “Dragonflies of Kent” by John and Jill Brook. Wrong again! They write
“A very surprising isolated breeding was recorded by the authors on the River Darent near Lullingstone Castle”. So well done Sue and Julie. And, now that we know it is there, no doubt some fool will add it to the list of “hope to see” in the programme!
Julie, now on a bit of a roll, found a Roman Snail. In fact lots of them – but as it is a protected species we did not eat them (other reasons for not eating them were also mentioned).
The botanists amongst us came up with henbane – my flower book described it as “a stout, evil looking, evil-smelling biennial, clammy with sticky white hairs – flowers a lurid pale yellow”. All parts of henbane are poisonous – but evil?
My contribution on a morning of “show and tell” was the galled and swollen stem of Rough Hawksbeard. The gall wasp is Timaspis lusitanica – a recent introduction to Britain and still only found in a few places in Kent. Not everyone was suitably impressed by this one.
And just in case you were wondering – we didn’t see any grey wagtails!
Thanks to everyone for making this an interesting trip and thanks to Sue, Julie and Sally for the photographs. And special thanks to Pam for making sure I did not get lost and for getting us back to the centre on time.