Who would have thought that a short trip to Allhallows could have produced such interesting finds! It was quite exciting at the time but got even better when we got back home. Fifteen people met up for our first Tuesday walk since 2019. It was good to see everyone again. One of my favourite damselflies is Lestes dryas – the Scarce Emerald. It was thought to be extinct in Britain in the 1950s but was refound in the 1970s in Essex and then north Kent. So when I found one in an ditch I was really pleased to show everyone. Everyone had a good look and then the photographers took over. Someone noticed three damselflies “coupled” together – which was a bit odd, but I did not make a close inspection to find out what was going on. It was not until we got home and I looked at the pictures that Sally had taken of the Scarce Emerald, that I realised she had photographs of a Southern Emerald Lestes barbarus.
Steve had noticed that his photograph of the threesome was actually one Scarce Emerald male trying his best to get involved with a pair of Southern Emeralds. If you look carefully at the photographs you can see the differences between the two species. The Southern Emerald only arrived in Britain a few years ago – it is more scarce than the Scarce Emerald! So both species were in the same ditch. Someone should really have noticed this at the time! Anyway, we moved on. As we did so a bright blue male southern migrant hawker flew over the ditch – another new arrival to Britain. It was all a bit too much.
Rather more typical routine bird watching followed. A peregrine did a close fly-by followed shortly after by a hobby. It was almost relaxing to watch the easy going flight of a little egret. We counted 21 little egrets feeding out on the tide off Yantlet Creek along with hundreds of oystercatchers, a few curlew, a couple of avocets and a single common sandpiper. We stopped at the entrance to the Creek. This gave the butterfly enthusiasts a chance to search more closely, for others to have a rest, and for me to think about my old friend, Paul Keene, who loved this place.
We retraced our steps, which gave me an opportunity to see the wheatear that others had seen but I had missed on the way in. It was a juvenile wheatear, which was confirmed by Hazel’s “app”. The end of July is early for the return migration of wheatears in Kent. But a juvenile? When I got home I looked up my old copy of “The Birds of the North Kent Marshes” (1950) by Gilham and Homes. Wheatears have been known to breed in north Kent in earlier times. Apparently they used crevices in the sea-wall or rabbit burrows. Some wheatears still breed in the Dungeness area (apparently) but are thought to have been lost as a breeding species on the Hoo Peninsula. A juvenile wheatear at Yantlet Creek. A local bred bird? I find that really uplifting.
Thanks to Sally and Steve for the photographs.