Saturday, 27 July 2013

Super Dragonfly facts.

I've been following The Dragonhunter Diaries for a few months now and extremely entertaining it is too. Alans' last post was excellent. If you haven't bumped into his blog before here is your chance and make sure you read his Science fiction, science fact posting. Great reading but above all great writing !
Science fiction, science fact.  Can be found here

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

From the boardwalk................ Greenlee Lough.
Marsh Cinquefoil. Dyes were produced from the roots and flowers in days gone by and the leaves are reputed to be good for making tea.
Also known as Marsh Five Fingers. Related to the Wild Strawberry. A great scource of nectar for bees.

Common Cotton-grass...........a member of the sedge family and not a grass. 
Just a couple of the many species of plant.

Friday, 19 July 2013

Banded Demoiselle larvae, Bellasis Bridge.

I've had limited experience of identifying Dragonfly larvae and some, particularly the Hawkers ( Aeshna ), can be tricky. Not just for me but for the more competent Dragonflier. A guy called Steve joined me, he was there primarily to removed troublesome plants, and we chatted. I described the differences and nuances of the Banded Demoiselles i was watching and he gave me interesting info regarding what was in the River Blyth. He was telling me how much the problem with the American Red Signal Crayfish had increased telling me how they would just about devour everything they could eat and that if he put a net in he would expect 4/5 easily. He just happened to have one in his car and in a flash he had returned with said net and plastic bucket. The net was briefly swept through the water 3 times and the contents shown to me. Sure enough there were 6 in the bucket ranging in size but also in there was a Damselfly larvae. I was pretty sure it was a Demoiselle and having checked, it was.
Demoiselle nymph.
 Steve never handled the Crayfish, you need a licence, due to the problems with this species. The only river in Northumberland that is not infected is the River Wansbeck. The Crayfish has been known to move across fields in wet weather conditions to contaminate nearby streams !  A couple of images showing the range in size of the Signals caught. The Banded Demoiselle larvae is between 30 and 40 mm long to give you some idea.
The two larger samples were about 50mm long. Note the smaller third one.

Two more tiddlers alongside the Damsel nymph. We saw examples in the river around 100mm long.

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Black-tailed Skimmer, Kibblesworth.

First visit to the Brickworks Pools gave me my first Black-tailed Skimmer of the year. Last week at Banks Pond i had hundreds of teneral Damselflies lifting from the grasses surrounding the pools yesterday at Kibblesworth it was the turn of the Common Darters. You could almost feel the panic as these fragile beings lifted in unison from my presence and drop to another area of grassy shelter to enable the maturing process that will see them in the arena that is the pond. Only the mature specimens that are ready to engage in conflict are seen here. They will all get there eventually.
Impossible to count the numbers of Four-spot Chasers around due to the constant squabbles that break out between the perched or patrolling males but there must have been over forty. The females, like the newly emerged, keep away from the water unless they feel the need to oviposit and you can see why as, when they do make an appearance are hassled constantly by male after male. Three sightings of a male Emperor, five mature Common Darters and five sightings of female Four-spots made up the Dragonfly contingent. All the expected Damsels were there in nice numbers. Lots of coupled and ovipositing pairs.
Butterflies abounded.
Male Black-tailed Skimmer, Kibblesworth Brickworks Pools.

Sunday, 14 July 2013

The Next Generation.

Appologies to you Trekkies calling by to see what Jean Luc Picard is up to these days. This post actually concerns the egg laying of an Emperor......or should that be Empress. For Data fans, that is a Dragonfly. Here is an image.
Live long and prosper.
Ovipositing female Emperor Dragonfly, Banks Pond.

Friday, 12 July 2013

Home sweet home.

A trip out to Greenlee Lough yesterday under fabulous skies in rising temperatures. Setting out from the permiisible car park at Gibbs Hill, up to Greenlee Farm, then down to the Lough itself. An hour in the hide there, thirty minutes on the boardwalk over the mire. Back to the hide for lunch, then back on the boardwalk and out over the farmland to the car park again. 7.5km the distance with a barely significant ascent of  72 metres. Most noticable was the number of Chimney Sweeper moths. More than a thousand on view but not one image taken. They took ages to settle when disturbed and when they finally came to rest it was usually buried deep in some tall grasses. Almost impossible to get a clear shot and my back was soon telling me to desist. I listened. I mightn't always listen to the missus but i ALWAYS listen to my back.Nice to see good numbers of Meadow Pipts in the morning, i arrived there shortly after seven, loads of interaction and quite a few displaying. The Lough was pretty quiet. The hoped for Osprey didn't materialise, perhaps i had used up my quota as Mr Howdon Blogger and i had one flying over the A69 just west of Hexham on Saturday. A Pied Wagtail, Mute Swans, Mallards and a Redshank was all i had on or around the water initially. Seven Curlew dropped in a little later. Reed Wabler and Bunting made noises beside the boardwalk. The highlight of the day came in the form of a Wasp. I noticed the nest, which was attached to the top of one of the shutters, between 40 -50 mm in diameter. Thinking it was most probably an old nest before the Wasp in question turned up on two occasions and did a little construction before disapearing inside for a while. No idea what species, an suggestions would be appreciated. I'll put an image on I Spot with some detail an see what they say. I know of Paper Wasps, but the ones i've seen have had football sized nests.
BEFORE alterations.

Still during
Spot the difference.

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

No water = No B.B.C. = no suprise.

Called in at Little Waters in passing yesterday to see how the Broad-bodied Chaser situation was but as the meadow pools have dried out i drew a blank. I did get brief sightings of a couple of Four-spot Chasers in amongst the longer grasses and this stunning Common Darter made the short visit worthwhile.
A sight to put a smile on your face. It did mine.

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Four-spotted, four views.

Over forty Four-spotted Chasers were on the wing at Banks Pond at the weekend when THE Howdon Blogger and i visited the site. Two Emperor Dragonflies patrolled the larger pond and hundreds of Damselflies, many in tandem and ovipositing, were present. While the Four-spots were available for photo opportunities the Emperors, as they do, were constantly on the move often over the areas of open water. Lots of aggresive behaviour shown by the male Chasers, often engaging in very fast interactions with others before usually returning to their favourite perches.