Monday, 19 August 2013

Long Tailed Blues

I was going through the Bird Forum butterfly pages on Thursday and was surprised to see a thread on Long Tailed Blues in Kent (and elsewhere) had started on Monday. Not sure how that passed me by, but it changed our weekend plans. The weather looked best for Sunday, which is why I went to Rye Saturday and luckily they were still being reported though overnight rain looked to be a problem.
We parked at Bockhill farm at 0930 and headed north. The sun was nice but it was a bit breezy on the cliff tops. The first thing I spotted was my first (and still only) Brown Argus of the year. It was a bit of a skulker but showed fairly well for the camera.

All three whites were seen on the walk and Common Blues were abundant. One or two rather tatty Marbled Whites were also seen and a nice but expected bonus was a Clouded Yellow-my first for several years. We eventually encountered a few more as the morning progressed.

Eventually we met up with other enthusiasts and reached what we presumed to be the right area with abundant patches of Everlasting Pea. A search of the area proved fruitless and we were told by someone on his way back to move a few hundred yards further north. 
There were two areas of hedge with peas, one with a number of Stevenage birders including Tony Hukin. I was told that a fairly fresh female Long Tailed was showing well on the other area so I headed there but despite a long search we concluded that it must have flown off. Rather annoyingly Colin arrived to tell me he had been photographing Wall Browns and also a Long Tailed Blue where Tony had remained. I rushed back to find everyone surrounding what appeared to be an almost dead incredibly tatty Blue on a pea stem. After getting a few images it became apparent that a number of other individuals were starting to show and over the space of about an hour I reckoned we saw a minimum of three and perhaps five individuals. though all were very worn.

A nice distraction while we were there was the female Great Green Bush Cricket that preferred to remain in the grass but posed well briefly.

The long rather warm walk back provided views of Wall Browns, Essex and a lone Silver Spotted Skipper plus many more common butterflies-18 species in total.
I had hoped to see some migrant birds, or maybe something on the sea but the morning was largely birdless.
We returned home via Oare Marshes. A Temmincks Stint had been present for a while and the long staying Bonapartes Gull was still being reported now and then. The main pool was largely filled by Black Tailed Godwits, with a few Dunlin, Lapwing, Ruff and Redshanks. One Green Sandpiper and a juvenile Little Ringed Plover were also present. One flyover Yellow wagtail was nice. Very few gulls around, mainly because the tide was low and most were loafing on the Swale with a few Shelduck. Did not see the Bonapartes, and the Stint was not seen either. Getting into the car the ping of a Bearded Tit as another addition to my meagre bird year list.

On getting home and carting the gear into the garden was pleasantly surprised to hear hirundines above me-a few Swallows and House Martins were milling around. Suddenly I heard alarm calls and was stunned to see an adult Hobby chasing one of the martins not more than thirty feet away before the flock scattered and all the birds vanished.

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