Wednesday 17 June 2015

Stinking Hawksbeard

Lade - warm, dry, sunny, sw 3 - A poor night in the garden trap with only 15 species including two tatty looking Bordered Straws.
This morning we spent a couple of hours surveying the southern section of the local patch taking in the working gravel pits and foreshore between The Pilot and Lade car park. Worryingly there didn't appear to be a great deal of activity around the Black-headed Gull colony; whether or not a predator (such as Badger) had swam out overnight and nobbled them only time will tell. On a positive note though, both Oystercatcher and Shelduck still had young on show. The male Kestrel was seen to take a juv Starling and fly back to the gantry nest site, while plenty of Skylarks sang over the grasslands.
There were some particularly impressive swards of blue scabious contrasting with dead grasses, and great mats of snow-white English Stonecrop, a plant that appears to be doing well this summer.
Butterflies continue to be few in number with only a couple of Common Blues and Small Heaths on the wing.

                                English Stonecrop

Kerton Road Café - Half way round we called in at the café to `do moths` where over 30 species of macros included a number of White Spots, Elephant Hawk-moths, Bordered Sallow and, dare I mention them, several more Bordered Straws...

                                Elephant Hawk-moths, KRC

                                                    Stinking Hawksbeard, KRC

The front garden of the café looked in fine fettle, if a little dry (as elsewhere across the NNR), with a great splashes of red poppies the main feature. However, in and around the margins a number of hawksbeard plants were in flower, some of which were of the nationally rare Stinking Hawksbeard variety. The easiest way of initially locating this innocuous plant is to look for the drooping buds, as depicted above; and curiously, the leaf when crushed smells of Germoline or TCP.
The beach section of the walk failed to locate any breeding Ringed Plovers, but as the tide came in 80 Oystercatchers and 40 Curlews flew to roost on the gravel pits and a flock of six Dunlins pitched up on the shingle foreshore.  


  1. Paul,

    Here on the Swale NNR, Meadow Browns are starting to appear and on one salt working mound covered in nettles, I estimated 700-800 near full grown Peacock caterpillars.

  2. None here yet Derek, but once they start are normally everywhere; I guess this cold early summer period has held things back a bit.