This weekend, Team Wildside managed two butterfly-watching trips in between our other important duties (sleeping, aikido practice and, in Rob's case, watching the first and second Toy Story films so we can watch the third one tonight). This post is about the Saturday trip to Queendown Warren. I'll tell you about the Sunday trip later, when I've figured out where Rob has hidden the card reader.
So, Queendown Warren. A Kent Wildlife Trust reserve in the North Downs, off the A249 where it links the M20 and M2. We found the general area easily enough but locating the reserve car park took an increasingly frustrating half-hour of weaving around very narrow lanes. Eventually a little car park materialised and we gratefully stashed the Passat in the shade. It was a very warm, mostly sunny and quite still afternoon.
The reserve is cut up into several chunks by the aforementioned weaving lanes. The first bit we explored was steeply sloping Rabbit-cropped grassland with patches of scrub.
Exploring this small bit of the reserve, we saw numerous Common Blues, Meadow Browns and Gatekeepers, several Green-veined Whites and a lone Marbled White. The most baffling find was the remains of a male Stag Beetle, neatly divided into three bits (head, thorax and wing-cases - whatever killed it evidently ate the abdomen).
Carrying on, we crossed a lane and found another stretch of downland. This had an extensive area of Wild Thyme, knapweeds and other butterfly-friendly flowers, and was attracting brisk trade from the local Lepidoptera.
Soon we had reached the end of the thyme-dominated strip and reached another very short-grazed slope. We were standing around here debating whether to continue or go back, when a woman who'd been higher up the slope came down to join us on the path and told us there was an Adder asleep on a log just ahead. That made up our minds for us.