Arctic Absence

We have been absent from here for three weeks during which time we visited the Arctic. That was a very different experience to these meadows in July.

This is a long time – too long – to have been away.

During this time the trap camera had taken 979 images of which the most dramatic was this:

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Very obliging of them to have their disagreement right in front of our camera.

But the foxes are still looking in fine shape after the mange crisis over the winter:

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On a plant front, it is Wild Carrot and Lesser Knapweed (as opposed to the Greater Knapweed I’ve been going on about for a while) that are now having their day.

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The Wild Carrot is quite a plant. Its flowers first form a deep dish and then open up to a wondrous snowflake. A distinguishing feature is the black spot of the female parts of the flower in the middle:

 

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The Wild Carrot is also the larval food plant of an extremely rare and protected moth, the Sussex Emerald. There is a colony of these moths on the shingle at Dungeness and there was also another one at Walmer, on the shingle beach just below these meadows. Just two small colonies in the whole of the UK – and sadly our colony below us has been horribly disrupted this year because a couple of houses are being built. It would be lovely to know that there are still some of these moths here.

And last night I think I caught one of these Red Book Protected Sussex Emerald moths in my moth trap. Its very worn and so it is difficult to identify but I have posted it on the Moth Facebook Group that I am a member of and so far two of the experts have given it a positive ID.

Here it is:

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A query Sussex Emerald

Here is what a fresh version would look like:

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A photograph of the Sussex Emerald then at Dungeness by the observatory there.

But, if confirmed, it is terribly exciting to have a Red Book listed species here. Unfortunately, the farmer is coming to cut down all the wild carrot along with the rest of the meadows later on today. Well, that is all part of the ridiculously difficult dilemma of when to get these meadows cut.

NB it has been subsequently firmly confirmed as a Sussex Emerald and I’m delighted.

 

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