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15.08.14 A Butterfly Challenge at Malling Down

22 August 2014 | Posted in Gardening

On Tuesday Crispin Holloway had led a walk to Malling Down and, in cloudy / sunny conditions, had recorded 13 species of butterfly in the Coombe. I had vowed to beat this total on my Friday walk but as we met under heavy grey clouds on Cliffe Bridge I started to have my doubts.

The buddleia at the bottom of the Coombe which is usually good for racking up a few species was empty and the cold weather meant nothing was flying. Halfway up the Coombe we finally found a meadow brown (1) in the grass and soon noticed that common blues (2) were also resting in the long grass too - grounded by the cold weather. At the top of the Coombe the shade-loving speckled wood (3) appeared and a large white (4) flew over the allottments.

The shelter at the top of the Coombe felt warmer than the rest of the valley and on the vegetation we were able to locate chalkhill blue (5), Adonis blue (6), brown argus (7), small heath (8) and gatekeeper(9).

Adonis Blue at Malling Down / Mat Davidson
Adonis Blue at Malling Down / Mat Davidson

Chalkhill Blue at Malling Down / Mat Davidson
Chalkhill Blue at Malling Down / Mat Davidson

On 'The Snout' Crispin was able to expertly locate some eggs of the silver-spotted skipper hidden amongst the sheep's fescue. It wasn't long until an adult silver-spotted skipper (10) was located on the majoram and we were in double figures!

Silver-spotted skipper egg / Mike Ramsey
Silver-spotted skipper egg / Mike Ramsey

On the return back down the valley we added Essex skipper (11), green-veined white (12) and red admiral (13). I was determined to get one more to beat Crispin's total and was thrilled when a beautiful clouded yellow (14) migrated up the valley. The weather had been rather dull but it had meant that we were all able to get really close to a lot of butterflies.

On the way back down Malling Hill we also found a lovely red underwing moth resting by a front door.

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