If it was to be believed , today's forecast was sunny morning , clouding over by lunch time .
In that sun , I set off early to make the first of three visits this morning , that being to the farm lake , to see if I could get the Mandarin family , just out of bed . I'm afraid to say that I didn't find them again , but just being in 'paradise' on such a morning was great . The warmth of the sun , the birdsong the views , perfect . The temperature rise over the last few days has really brought on the emergence of Damsel/Dragonflies . Blue-tailed and Large Red Damselflies were very active , but the majority of the action was the Common Blue Damselfly , doing what they put here for , reproducing . I also saw several newly emerged Black Tailed Skimmers , but didn't manage to get a decent shot . I did manage to chase down a passing Painted Lady , that came to rest in the grass . 3 Common Blues were recorded including the first female found here this year , nectaring on Ragged Robin . On the water , one of the Little Grebe presented an opportunity to show just how 'little' it is , when it paddled past two juvenile Coots , preening on a mat of reeds .
From the farm lake , I stopped in at Spring Park Pond . Those Broad Bodied Chaser males , that I posted a few days ago just 'blueing up' , are now fully 'blued' , and , fully charged with testosterone , as three of them were fueding over territories around the small pond , every now and again , taking five , before starting again . I could see that no females had arrived at the pond yet , because thier powder blue abdomens were pristine . When this species mates , it is done in the air , and the female holds on with her legs around the male's abdomen . After a few matings , a darker line appears where the female's legs brush off some of the blue colouring . Azure and Large Red Damselflies were recorded as well . On a patch of Brambles , in a sheltered corner , I did find a female , but feeding up ready for mating is her priority at this time . Butterflies recorded included this tiny Small Copper , and several male Common Blues , scrapping over territorial rights , and refuelling , when they got a chance . Orange Tip , Large White , Green Veined White , Brown Argus and Small White were also recorded .
Having been so lucky with the Small Blues at Fackenden , I then went back to Hutchinson's Bank for another try to find them there . Once again I failed to find them , if they are still there , but did record 10 species , as the sun became a bit milky . They included Peacock , Brimstone , Small Heath , Dingy Skipper and Grizzled Skipper as well a species already recorded elsewhere . A couple of plants found of interest included Woodruff , a member of the Bedstraw family , with a flower very much like Squinancywort . The Wild Strawberries are beginning to ripen , and I found a perfect specimen of Dog Rose . Up at the top of the bank , I sadly found a dead Slow Worm , that had puncture wounds on it , probably a Fox . Speaking of which , I found one dozing in the long grass , but he was off in a shot , not like the Goats that were right at the far end of the Reserve , and followed me all the way back to the middle gate . Heading down to have one more look at the chalk scrapes for the Small Blues , I spotted a Roe Deer in the far corner , or should I say , we both saw each other . I tried to close the gap and he headed of cover . I close a bit further , then sat and waited . After a while , he re-appeared on the fenceline at the bottom of the bank . Nervously , he made his way towards the kissing gate , just below where I was sitting in the long grass . When he got there he even had a look to see if he could get out there . He carried on to my left , and when I was well out of his sightline , I made my way down the bank , to another bush , nearer the fence line . As I got to the bush , I heard a shout from the top of the bank , a man with a child , then another shout 'No' , and with that a Rotweiler came out of the bushes , headed straight for the Roe Deer . The dog had no chance of catching it , it turned tail , and flew along the fenceline , right past me . This is the only shot I managed as it fled , with afterburners full on . The chap then saw me , with the camera , raised his hand , and called 'sorry mate' , some consolation . I shall never know if the Deer would have come back my way , but if he had , well the shots don't bear thinking about . No Small Blues were found , and I started back to the car . On the Bridleway , at some distance I saw a shape , with binoculars , I could see it was another Fox , and something else was moving as well . Near top middle of the shot was the other thing , a Magpie , giving the Fox some jip . I carried on towards them , and saw the Magpie fly off , but the Fox Remained . I closed the distance between us again , but by now , the Fox had seen me coming , and stood up facing me . I took another shot , the play back showed on the screen , and when the camera went live again , there was nothing in the viewfinder , he had disappeared into the vegetation . By now , the cloud cover was ever thickening , butterflies were looking for places to shelter , and I set off for home , well happy with my few hours in the sunshine .