Sunday, 31 July 2011

Can you spare a Copper?

First "proper" venture out for a few weeks saw me returning to the raised bog in Cumbria this time with Brian (Northumbrian Birding) who wanted to catch up with the White-faced Darters before the end of their flight season. He was not disappointed with sightings of that species along with Black Darter, Four-spot Chaser, Common Hawker and other species to be positively identified. There were of course numerous damselfly species all, along with us, enjoying excellent conditions for the six and a half hours plus that we were at the site. Brian spent the majority of the time around the three pools with the damsels and dragons whereas having been before i wandered off to try to explore further afield. One species which Brian was hoping to capture was the Large Heath butterfly but he never saw a single specimen and i only saw the one while on my wanders. Not surprising i suppose as the end of its flight season is marked down as early August in most publications.
Small Copper
Enjoying the nectar from the flowers of the heather
A nice top view showing the markings on both front and hind wings.
The only Large Heath i saw also enjoying the heather along with numerous other insects.

Saturday, 30 July 2011

A nice surprise

Not having gone far recently due to calf and hip problems i hadn't downloaded any images from my camera for quite a few days. The images were mainly from my last couple of days in Kent and included one nice surprise. I managed to get out for a couple of hours very early on the penultimate day of my visit to the Garden County and headed down to explore an area along the Medway River. I ended up at a reservoir which was obviously a home to a local fishing club and i thought i might find some nice damsels or dragons. Unfortunately i didn't sight a single one and the highlights were a couple of Great Crested Grebes on the water, a Robin i had a conversation with at my feet and a juvenile Green Woodpecker up a tree. I did however come across a single butterfly next to the path leading down to the river from the local village. It was very flighty and i got a couple of shots of what i thought might be a Meadow Brown and thought no more of it.
I had captured a female Gatekeeper
A species i hadn't seen before and i hadn't realised.

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Like a virgin.

It's an awful admission but last night at the ripe old age of 57, i am no longer a virgin. I lost my Petrel "cherry" in the hide at St. Marys' Lighthouse ( i couldn't find a bike shed) and there were voyeurs present. Strange men with optical aids were making odd noises, salivating and doing Chris Packham thigh rubbing. Worryingly, i felt quite at home amongst them.

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

The fab four

No, not The Beatles. The Storm Petrels i saw this evening at St. Marys with the Blogger from Howdon. A fly through by a small flock of Common Scoters. Lots of Guillemots and Razorbills feeding on the water. An Arctic Skua and a nice juvenile Kittiwake other highlights. Curlew, Oystercatcher and Redshanks were continually disturbed by rock poolers or whatever they are flipping called.
I blame Alice Cooper.

The last post........................from my trip to Cumbria.

Four-spotted Chaser was another of the species of dragonfly sighted. Some images follow.
Four-spotted Chaser
The sexes are very similar with the males adopting vantage points among tall marginal vegetation
An aggressive species with a rapid territorial flight.........................on the wing 'till mid August
The females spend much of their time away from water and often seen perching on trees or bushes. When they do come to the water to oviposit they are continually harassed by males.
Tell ya what, i enjoyed my visit so much i might just call back this weekend, weather and body permitting.

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Cumbria images keep me posting.........Large Heath and Black Darter.

Despite 10 days in Kent i'm still relying on images from the other weekend due to a combination of torn calf muscle and major hip pain. Not been out birding or bugging once while i've been here but been out with my beautiful grandson a few times around the local country parks and beaches. That's a laugh. Well, what passes as a beach down here ranges between shells and shingle, oh for the wide open spaces of Northumberland. Speaking of are a few more images from Cumbria beginning with a Large Heath, a butterfly you might not have encountered as, although it is primarily a northern species its habitat is mainly confined to boggy areas. Not an easy species to photograph although it has a slow lumbering flight. It tends to lift and fly for some distance before landing again with the underfoot conditions posing the biggest problem.
There is a large variation in the spot marking of this species depending where in the country you find it.
Away from the pools as we were leaving the site we encountered large numbers of newly emerged Black Darters perched on heather. Another species that tends to be found in and around bog pools and peat moss sites.

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

White-faced Darter adult male, Cumbria

Three different angles showing the markings of this bonny Darter.

As i mentioned in my previous post the female tends to keep away from the water unless ovipositing whereas the male will perch nearby on bare patches of ground or old or dead bracken while defending a small area of territory over the water. Not frightened to engage with other species as we saw on a number of occasions coming into conflict with Four-spot Chasers despite the difference in size.

Sunday, 17 July 2011

White-faced Darter nymph

The images below shows how this particular species is quite rare in the U.K. Unlike other dragonfly larvae it is active during the day, feeding at night. This being the case it is more open to predation by fish so making its home in highly acidic pools where the fish cannot survive. This environment has been removed in the past, being drained and planted on. The species has suffered greatly from its loss of habitat but recently moves have been made to restore more of these bogs and mires by the felling of trees and blocking of drainage ditches.
The site in Cumbria i visited with Howdon Blogger last weekend has in fact been used as a donor site for larvae that were reintroduced to Foulshaw Moss near Kendal.
The naiad spends its time in the Sphagnum Mosses in the pools.
They exist as larvae for 1-3 years before emerging in the adult stage.
Male and female adults mating......the female only appearing over the water to lay her eggs in the Sphagnum
Don't forget..........double click does the trick.

Friday, 8 July 2011

Beautiful female Blue

Female Common Blue

Early visit to Big Waters this morning brought me 7 new Hawker exuvia but far too late to see any emerging, didn't arrive 'till 4.45a.m. Fairly quiet on and around the water as i had a wander around the site with the exception of feeding Common Terns, a fine sight in the improving light. The temperature was fairly cool early on and it was apparent there had been plenty rain overnight so there wasn't much in the way of insects on the wing. The sun eventually began to make its presence felt and the mercury must have been rising with a number of damsels appearing along with a few butterflies. A few Whites, possibly a score of Meadow Browns and a single female Common Blue caught the eye. I was in fact stopped in my tracks by the Blue. Being a female it had that brown tinge to it and i always think , initially,  that i have some other species.

Thursday, 7 July 2011

Emerged Dragon

Images of Dragonfly next to exuvia.
Aeshna genus......possibly Cyanea, Southern Hawker.
Another look at the can see where it has emerged.

Monday, 4 July 2011

Hawker Exuvia, Big Waters.

Following info. from Dick (City Birding) of  location of exuvia at Big Waters i called there on Tuesday of last week. I found 3 attached to Flag Iris stems and reeds in very close vicinity to each other. Having seen these i decided i would call up early one morning to see if i could watch a specimen emerging from the exo skeleton. Yesterday morning (Sun.) i arrived in the car park at around 5.15a.m. and made my way to the area in question. I immediately came across an individual but unfortunately for me it had already left the exuvia but was resting right next to it as it finished its metamorphosis. I hung around for about 90 minutes watching it slowly prepare itself for flight. While doing so i scanned more of the reed bed and again found another 2 empty exuvia. They were in  different positions to the ones i saw the other day but in the same locality.
I decided to have a wander round the site and come back later. I didn't see any Dragonflies elsewhere while walking about but had large numbers of both Common Blue and Blue-tailed Damsels in and around Seaton Burn and the surrounding trees and grasses. Also sighted were large numbers of Meadow Brown and Small Skipper butterflies and a few Ringlets and Whites. I returned to the dipping pond to see how things were proceeding at 9.15a.m. to find that the Hawker had taken to the wing and was left with only the empty case. I managed to rescue it and took it home to photograph. Here are a couple of close up images. i will post some images of the Dragon and exuvia soon.

Amazing creatures........i wish i had seen it emerge.