Saturday, September 29, 2012

An abundance of red admirals

A mainly sunny day after the recent heavy rain and winds.

Halfway down our garden we have a bush of Colletia hystrix ( often listed as Colletia armata in catalogues) that produces masses of white, honey scented flowers at this time of year attractive to a wide range of insects, late butterflies being the most obvious.

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Today here were literally dozens of visiting red admirals, Vanessa atalanta (above), maybe 30 or 40 of them, and I have never seen so many as this together.  There were also a few commas, Polygonia c-album, and a couple of southern hawker dragonflies trying to pick off some of the smaller insects attracted to the flowers.

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Colletia hystrix, a member of the Buckthorn Family, comes from Chile where it is known as espino negro (i.e. blackthorn) or yaqui.  It is a very spiny plant and can be used, like gorse as a stock fence.  Ours is now about 4 or 5 metres tall and makes an impenetrable, but attractive, thicket.  It seems perfectly hardy in Sussex.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Woodchurch clay

Went for a walk today at on the south east side of Woodchurch between Tenterden and Ashford in Kent.  The only cross-country path suitable runs from Lower Road to the Appledore Road across the Weald Clay and partly on an area of alluvium.


However, there was a fine view back towards the village and the church (looking north north west from TQ949339).

The stubble is the remains of oil seed rape and the dark green along the footpath is made by thousands of young plants grown from fallen seed.  In winter the pigeons will love it.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

King snake in Hastings

A friend who lives in the Bohemia Road area of Hastings phoned yesterday evening to say that I might not believe this but a yellow, black spotted snake had appeared in their kitchen sink.

 20120914 Desert king snake

They had covered the sink with a board, but lifted it long enough to take the photo above which they texted to me.  After various phone calls and emails they managed to find a local vet with an interest in snakes to come and take the unexpected visitor to more congenial quarters.  He also confirmed its identity as a king snake.

I think it is a hybrid between the desert king snake, Lampropeltis getula splendida, and the speckled king snake, Lampropeltis getula holbrooki.  Various forms of these snakes are popular among reptile enthusiasts and says "They have a relatively docile temperament and can be easily tamed. They are energetic and inquisitive and make very interesting pets. They are easy and safe to handle, growing to a manageable size and make a good choice for people who are new to snake keeping."

However, I doubt whether the Hastings climate is suitable for them to make a permanent home in the town outside captivity.