Sunday, 29 September 2013


As per, been super busy with various volunteering tasks and work at the pub. I'll just make this a brief post with some September photos.

Garden carpet moth on our bird of paradise plant (11th Sept)

Raindrop covered hibiscus (12th Sept)

Raindrops on a large white butterfly caterpillar clambering along chicken wire (12th Sept)

My Dad and my Gramps were always very keen on keeping fish and reptiles and that sort of thing. In the past year my Dad has started this hobby up again with various beautiful fish, but more interestingly freshwater blueclaw crayfish (Cherax quadricarinatus). These are native to Australia and apparently they are a delicacy over there. I personally wouldn't eat one, being a veggie, but they are certainly very attractive! My dad has inadvertantly managed to breed them and tells me there are 7 young ones scuttling around the tank (I don't really like to advertise, but he asked me to write that they are for sale). Cute as far as crustaceans go! He also kept a recent exoskeleton to show me, and knowing that I am now making a little collection of odonata exuviae etc, he thought it would be a good addition to my collection :)

Adult male (15th Sept)




The first one Dad got eating a fish (taken in December 2012)

Little blue flower from a wild flower seed mat. Any ideas? Side view below...

Monday 16th I braved the M25 traffic and drove up to Whipsnade Zoo. I had a wonderful day, mainly due to having my own personal tour from a very lovely friend :) They have about 1000 free roaming animals in the grounds - the mara were pretty darn cute!

Mummy Mara and her 2 bubbas!

Mum and I drove down to Dungeness last weekend (21st) and purchased some new bins :) long overdue! We tested them out watching the skulking egrets and the wonderfully agile sandmartins. I never tire of watching hirundines skim the water for tiny insects, building up their weight ready for their long journey back to their winter residence. Some of my average attempts of photos are below.  

Little egret on land



Grey heron

Mid week we had some lovely sunny weather and the cosmos flowers were bloomin' pretty. I thought the pinky purple colour complemented the hazy green of the plants behind. Most of the photos I hardly edited at all and I was pretty pleased with the outcomes.

Cosmos at lunchtime

Carder bee

Bracken enjoying chewing his new toy

Evening primrose


morning of 24th

Cosmos in the morning

I cropped this slightly and changed the contrast a little bit

I only altered the contrast in this photo ever so slightly

I only cropped this photo very slightly, other than that unedited.

Anyway that is probably enough cosmos photos for now! I will hopefully post again soon with some interesting caterpillars I have seen on various walks and vol tasks. Thanks for reading all :) 

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Dragonflies, Rodent Debut, Woodland Walks and Other Autumnal Things

Back in August which now seem so so long ago, I joined the Kent dragonfly and damselfly recorders to see what was flying around in Blean woods. I had been trying to arrange to go along with the Blean Assistant Warden for a while to do some surveying but our free times never coincided. Luckily they did on the 29th August. There were a few other volunteers from different groups too, so it was nice to meet some new people and chat to them about the kind of tasks they do. The dragonfly experts were ever so knowledgeable, as you may expect. I think I learnt a fair bit whilst out surveying, but there was an awful lot to take in. After a morning of dragonflies, the Blean Assistant Warden and I walked a butterfly transect, with the hope that I would carry this on, due to her job finishing the next day! It was very interesting to learn how to scientifically record the number of each species of butterfly we saw. Unfortunately I haven't managed to get out and walk the transect due to being busy and also weather conditions. There is meant to be roughly 60% sunshine and no rain! Below are a few photos from the day.

Southern hawker

Furrow orbweaver spider - Larinoides cornutus (I think)

Emerald damselfly

Emerald damselfly

Common darter male and female in the copulation wheel

Exuviae - guessing a common darter came from this one due to it's size and the sheer number of them around!

Emerald damselfly - a particularly green specimen. Shame the photo isn't 100% in focus

Common darter on my car's aerial

The day after the dragonfly and butterfly day I was out water vole surveying once again. We were lucky with the weather but, for the first part of the day, not so lucky with water vole signs. It seems they aren't so keen on the dense reedbeds. Anyway we moved on to search the extension fields and the first ditch we surveyed, Chloe spotted a little vole critter swim to the other side of the reeds. We stood and watched for a while, saw it swim really quickly to another tunnel created by folded over reeds. I scanned the area using my camera and I came across two little beady eyes staring at me! The image below is my first photo of a water vole :) It isn't the best but I'm not too bothered. The cute little thing swam off once I had taken my photo.

My first ever water vole photo!! What a little cutie!!

Water vole latrine

Grasshopper of some species... common green? Meadow?

A rather pale Clouded yellow.... could it be an actual Pale Clouded yellow? Or just a faded normal one?

On the first day of Autumn (supposedly) we packed some snacks and a flask, took our OS map and went for a walk in the woods. We had to drive a bit first. To Chilham. Backpack, walking boots and dog at the ready off we trundled. Took me back to map reading whilst doing D of E! We had a great walk, lots of migrant hawkers around the coppiced woodland and a quite a bit of fungi around. A cross-over between summer and autumn!

Possibly coral-spot fungus - Nectria cinnabarina

Volunteering at South Swale Reserve on 2nd September we were repairing some fencing the cattle had pushed over and made unstable. Keeping us company was this nice grey plover, some distant seals, a few clouded yellows, some young meadow pipits and 5 or so wheatears!

Seen better and much more clearly through the Warden's scope

The house martins are still around which is lovely. The swifts left us a good few weeks ago now, so it is great to still have these amazing little birds chattering in their hundreds above the garden. Their white undersides catch the evening sun so beautifully. The youngsters from the nests on our house seem to have taken up residence in the HM box we put up! Maybe it was a bit of a squish in the mud nest and they wanted to get away from their siblings!

Numerous HMs in the evening - 2nd Sept

Just a fraction of the numbers that were in the sky!

HM chicks - 3rd Sept

Autumn is most definitely here. Dewy spiders webs are a sure sign!


Water vole trapping on Friday 6th September meant an early start. Well, early for me anyway. I was picked up at 6.45 and we arrived at our destination at half 7. We met R and P there and set to work. R is undertaking a PhD studying genetic differences between water voles in Sussex and Kent. Very interesting and very specialised. In order to track whether water voles stay in the same territories, individuals are captured in a trap, much like a big humane mouse trap. It is then determined if they have been captured before and if not, they are weighed, sexed and chipped. I was honoured to be able to help them out with this, and maybe a bit too happy to have been bitten by a cute little wv! Through gloves though, so maybe I wouldn't have been quite so pleased it it had drawn blood! R was particularly excited that a female had been recaptured from last year, and in the same trap! She hadn't moved at all. Obviously a nice safe section of reedbed with lots to munch on! Anyway, below are a few images from the very successful morning! 

Early morning sun on the reserve

Cutie in a pringles tube!

Released from the tube after being chipped

4 spot orb weaver - Araneus quadratus
After a very long post, I shall thank you for reading :) Hope you are all enjoying the turn of the seasons as much as I am!