Strolling through beech woods along the North Downs Way yesterday morning, I couldn't help but feel a little wistful for the sea of bluebells that carpeted the ground just a few weeks ago- now completely replaced with bare ground, bracken and leafing trees. The bluebell spectacle is by far my favourite event on the nature calender, but it's always surprising how quickly they come and go.
Out on the chalk slopes it was a different story, with Common Spotted Orchid, Chalky Milkwort, Rock-rose, Germander Speedwell and all manner of wild herbs adding an array of colour to the downs. With the plants came the top-quality moths, including a few which have managed to evade me in the past. The nationally scarce Stephensia brunnichella was abundant around clumps of Basil, as was Mompha miscella around its foodplant, Rock-rose. It's a miracle I even managed to get a shot of the Mompha- its tendency to scurry through the long grass made it an absolute nightmare to photograph; not helped by the fact that the subject itself was just a few millimetres long!
With things on the invertebrate front going better than expected, I decided to try my luck at finding Britain's smallest 'longhorn', Cauchas fibulella around Germander Speedwell, its foodplant...
|Well, what do you know- I found it... Cauchas fibulella.|
|Pancalia leuwenhoekella- one of the commoner day-flying moths on chalk downland.|
I've often stumbled across the empty shells of Roman Snail whilst out on the downs, but until today I'd never seen one with an actual snail inside. These gigantic molluscs stick out like a sore thumb to predators; it's no wonder they're so rare nowadays..
|Roman Snail with quite a big phone.|
I'm sure I'll be kicking myself when I finally work it out, but in the meantime feel free to put me out of my misery...