Friday, 18 May 2018

It's been a while....

But I visited Mayesbrook Park today, and had a pleasant walk around for three hours until midday. My first sighting was quite interesting, immediately opposite Lodge Avenue is a line of short trees/bushes with in the park. Many had these silken cocoons, some full of caterpillars the others tiny black eggs.
This was just a small section of the number of bushes with silken cocoons
 Well after a bit of googling I think I have identified them as Spindle Ermine Yponomeuta cagnagella a small and quite elegant looking black and white moth.
There must have been thousands of these moth caterpillars and their eggs!
It is fairly common throughout Britain except in the far north, occupying chalk or limestone districts.

The foodplant, as the vernacular name suggests, is spindle (Euonymus europaeus), the larvae feeding gregariously in a silken web. Occasionally entire bushes or sections of hedgerows are taken over by the larvae and their web, causing defoliation. And I'm pretty sure the line of  bushes are Common Spindle Euonymus europaeus which ties it all together nicely.

Anyway yippee I added two new bird species to my year list for the site Swift and Reed Warbler which takes me to 68 species. I was pleased with the Reed Warbler as one pair bred last year possibly for the first time ever. Today I had not one but three singing males, looks promising!

Very few butterflies about I recorded just 2 Speckled Wood, 4 Holly Blue and a few each of Large & Small Whites
Speckled Wood
Odanata were non existent, perhaps it's still a little earlier. There were a few hoverflies about. With a number of plants now in bloom, the pollinators were busy.
this smelt of mint, a bed of Cat Mint?
First species found was a fly Empis tessellata. This large, drab green-brown bristly fly with brown-tinged wings is distinguished from the very similar Empis opaca by its black thighs (E. Opaca has red thighs). It frequents hedges, woodland edges, gardens and shrubby habitats. Particularly common on Hogweed and other umbellifer flowers. Common and widespread between April to August, though it feeds on nectar it is also a predator and catches other insects using its long pointed proboscis to pierce their bodies. Males of E. opaca and E. tessellata present a 'gift' to the female, in the form of a dead insect, before mating takes place. Females will not mate with males who do not present a gift.
Empis tessellata Fabricius
This large, drab green-brown bristly fly with brown-tinged wings is distinguished from the very similar Empis opaca by its black thighs (E. Opaca has red thighs). It frequents hedges, woodland edges, gardens and shrubby habitats. Particularly common on Hogweed and other umbellifer flowers. Seen between April-August. Though it feeds on nectar it is also a predator and catches other insects using its long pointed proboscis to pierce their bodies. Males of E. opaca and E. tessellata present a 'gift' to the female, in the form of a dead insect, before mating takes place. Females will not mate with males who do not present a gift. Common and widespread in Britain.

A few hoverflies were out doing their thin, names to follow hopefully

Myathropa florea

Helophilus pendulus

Syrphus sp

Melanostoma scalare 

female Tetanocera (genus of Marsh Flies)

Spotted this large dog and thought it looked a bit like a brown bear, it was an Alsation
Gorse looking good

part of the Mayes Brook
Cricket preparing the outfield

Tuesday, 24 April 2018

Rainham Riverside


Spent a few hours today walking the seawall, at the serin mound and walking the trail over the landfill. Weather was dull all of the time but not cold, the sky was bland and didn't lend it's self to interesting images, which was a shame.
Two summer plumaged Turnstones were feeding along the tide line near the visitor centre, but they were distant on a falling tide

noisy Oystercatcher flew over 
Six Wheatears today three along the shoreline and three on the landfill


Kestrel one of a pair
Kestrel


Just the one godwit seen and it was a Bar-tailed 

The large amount of dandilions were attracting a variety of butterflies including this Small Tortoiseshell

Linnet


 Skylark on the landfill
 Lesser Black-backed Gull
 Peregrine Falcon flies over the landfill


Green-veined White

Sunday, 22 April 2018

Pollen covered bee

I photographed Andrena species of bee in my garden this afternoon. It was so covered in pollen that it's exact identity could not be determined, although it was probably Andrena nitida. It is a large Andrena with, when fresh, bright, foxy-brown hair on the thorax and a polished black abdomen. It is commonly found throughout southern Britain. It can be seen from April - June in a variety of grassland habitats. This species nests among short to medium-length grassland; there is no obvious preference for areas of bare ground. Nests are always well-dispersed.




It was fascinating to watch it going about it's daily business. You can find more info HERE

Wednesday, 18 April 2018

Early morning at Maysbrook

Still struggling to add any new summer migrants but at least the sun was shining 😊
Bluebells are starting to blossom

Great Tit gathering nest material

How did that happen! I hadn't even noticed they were sitting, but they they are two young Grey Herons in the bottom right corner

Traffic cone helps to show off the frog tadpoles

Dead White Nettle

Blackbird enjoying a tasty worm

In coming an Egyptian Goose 
Mallard reflection


Great Crested Grebe - Big News we now have two pairs!

Speckled Wood, saw my first flutterbys today two Speckled Woods, one Small White and a Brimstone

Sunday, 15 April 2018

Mayesbrook Park this weekend

Visited the park both days this weekend and while I never managed to add any new bird species to my year list, I was well pleased to find a pond full of frog tadpoles. Checked them again on the Sunday and while there appeared fewer (probably some predation by crows of those near the waters edge) I did spot at least five Smooth Newts.

Brief views of two Jays on the Saturday and a high flying Buzzard passing over on Sunday. Good numbers of Blackcaps and Chiffchaffs and at least ten  adult Egyptian Geese but no young ones yet. Still a few gulls around 20+ Herring, 4 Lesser Black-backs and a couple of Black-headed.
Lots of Frog tadpoles

Frog tadpoles

Frog tadpoles

Saw this dog retrieving his ball and just had to take a picture!

Mute Swan close up

male Blackbird

female Blackbird

Mute Swans

Mute Swan 
Mute Swan squabble


Mute Swan squabble

Hgh flying and heavily cropped Common Buzzard

Great Tit

male Blackcap enjoying the blossom

At first I thought this might have been a courtship display

but there was a third bird close by

so pretty sure this is aggression

possibly a male fending off a rival!

Magpie dispute 
Magpie dispute


Magpie dispute
Cowslip

Looking across the wildlife lake 
and some of the impressive Willows