Saturday, 9 April 2011

Red Kite day

I got hooked on watching "The Masters" last night, that is until I noticed activity outside the window.

Once again it was the small Badger that had visited last week. It settled down and I eased the door open and took some pictures, as it ate noisily.

It had eaten most of it's supper when it sniffed the air and let out a low rumbling growl. At that point a much larger Badger appeared behind it. My little friend didn't hang around to exchange pleasantries, and left by the side door while the big chap arrived and finished off the peanuts. I wonder, in these circumstances, whether they two Badgers are acquainted, or even come from the same sett. If so did the small one leave because it knew it would bet a bashing?

As Phil had forecast yesterday the change in wind direction did bring some interesting birds. I walked to the monument form home, via the Gun Site (see below) and not long after I joined the group at the cliff top, someone with sharp eyes picked up a couple of distant Red Kites way over towards Langdon Cliffs. They were drifting along into the wind, sometimes attracting the attention of gulls or crows, and once being in the air with both two Peregrines and a Sparrowhawk.
In what seemed a very short time they reach us and almost passed us overhead, before continuing their way down to Hope point and beyond.

At one time they landed on a bush just beyond Hope Point but soon continued on their way, over the gold course and towards Deal. A few minutes later a third Red Kite followed their flight path and moved through and disappeared over Kingsdown Wood.

Dark-edged Bee Fly (Bombylius major)

As I said, on my way to the cliff top I stopped and check round the Gun-site where the Top
Secret Super Gun "Big Bruce" had been installed during WW II. Nowadays the scrub is worth checking during migration, and today I saw my first Common Whitethroat of the year there. I also noticed a few Bee-flies there. The bee mimics lay they eggs near the nests of Solitary Bees and their larvae are parasitoids of the young Solitary Bees. The Dark-edged Bee Fly is relatively common and during April - June it can bee seen using it's long proboscis to extract nectar from herbaceous plants.

Dotted Bee-Fly(Bombylius discolor )
I was surprised to see a second species, the Dotted Bee Fly. This species underwent a dramatic decline and contraction of range in the 1960s and 1970s but recently has been shown to be expanding again, Although it is still classified as "Nationally Scarce" in Great Britain. As it name suggested it is identified by the dots on it's wings.

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