|A Long Horned Bee at Alex Farm Pastures - June 12th 2016.|
|Long Horned Bee exclusively visiting Bramble - June 12th 2016.|
|Long Horned Bee and Thick Legged Pollen Beetle.|
|Male Cuckoo - one of 3 males in the Alex Farm / Stone Wood area.|
One species the Cuckoos probably parasitise is Nightingale. They are present in good numbers this year, not just at Alex's but also in the surrounding blackthorn hedges leading back to Shadoxhurst. There are many unpaired birds still singing, and paradoxically at the same time, some Nightingales have fledged their first and only brood. The numbers of breeding Nightingales at Alex’s is hard to ascertain especially in the second heavily thicketed field of the site which is their favoured breeding area. An indication of how many birds present was given when I watched a Jay trying to raid their nests. The calls of many birds eventually gave a full-on chase to a Jay, no doubt plundering their eggs and chicks. As the Jay vanished into the woodland behind I was quite surprised at the number of Nightingales (5) in pursuit, temporarily abandoning their nests in support of their neighbours.
|Turtle Dove. June 5th still in the area up to June 12th|
|Downy Emerald Dragonfly at the pond Alex Farm Pastures June 11th 2016.|
|One of many Broad Bodied Chasers on site June 11th|
|Four Spotted Darter, up to 20 present with several egg laying (with BB chasers) at the pond. June 11th|
|Recently fledged Grey Wagtail, at the pond, Alex Farm Pastures. June 11th|
|Yellow Shell Moth, June 11th|
On the same day as watching the Downy Emerald, I had also photographed insects among the orchids and thistles within the Alex Farm Pastures meadow. I had already noticed the Wool Carder Bee, one of the few I’m able to identify, when I started to notice another restless Bee with long antennae collecting pollen from Bramble blossom. It was so distinctive and unforgettable I knew it was something I had not seen before. I quickly 'googled’ the description and was immediately delivered the I.D. of Long Horn Bee, a rare and fast declining southern UK species. As far as I’m aware its not been recorded here before or at the very least not recently. Time and, I’ll admit it, lack of knowledge stops me commenting on the flora of the site, The summer wildflower swathe is yet to come into full flower, but there are plenty of Common Spotted Orchids and Marsh Thistles in flower not to mention odd clumps of Ragged Robin and various vetches to see. Among the cover of the ground plants there are many common Lizards to see, the numbers here seeming higher than at other local sites. So, whilst the weather has been unpredictable (no doubt contributing to poor Butterfly and Moth numbers on the site this spring) it hasn’t spoiled what has been a varied display of some of Alex Farm Pastures' unique and special wildlife.
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Alex Pasture is a 11 acre site, South of Shadoxhurst, Kent
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