Saturday, 27 June 2009

Saturday 27th.June 2009

After my visit two weeks ago to Ashdown Forest , today I made the return visit that I promised myself . Top of my list was female Silver Studded Blue butterfly , so I headed straight for the area where I found the two males on my last visit . Although it was only 9.30 , the car thermometer was reading 22 C. as I parked . It was easier to locate the species this time , as I would estimate that there were 8/10 males , very active , obviously searching for females amongst the Bell Heather and Cross Leaved Heath . I decided that they would find any females much better than I could , so I spent the next hour and a half , following the males until I lost sight , or when one rested , followed another . As can be seen from this shot , damage has been inflicted during the many aerial battles when two met . At the end of the time , I was sweating buckets , and not even a glimpse of a female had been seen . I headed back to the car , passing a very brown pond , as many are on the site , where a male Broad Bodied Chaser was standing guard over his patch . The Common Sundews , showing no sign last visit , have come into flower this visit . I then headed for The Reserve , managed by Sussex Wildlife Trust . On entering the site , most noticeable was the small amount of birdsong compared to last time , but not totally unexpected , given that the temperature had gone up another couple of degrees . First bird
recorded was a male Stonechat , but keeping a distance from the camera this time . All was quiet where I found the Woodlarks before , so I headed towards a series of small ponds on the down slope . The first produced two male dragonflies in aerial combat . One was the Emperor Dragonfly , which is found in a variety of habitats , but the other was a heathland specialist , the Keeled Skimmer , which gets it's name from the 'keel or join' , that runs the length of the abdomen . I believe that this species can be found at just one site in Kent , Hothfield Common . This species could be confused with the Black Tailed Skimmer , but the 'keel' and the lack of the black tip to the abdomen are diagnostic .The second pond once again produced a female Emperor Dragonfly , and once again egg laying . The other ponds provided more of the same , with the addition of Common Blue , Azure and Large Red Damselflies . I was hoping that two other heathland species , Small Red Damselfly , obviously smaller than the Large , but with red legs rather than black , and Black Darter , might have emerged , but it would appear it was just too early for them . I followed the track down the slope to the small stream that runs in the valley , a haunt that was favoured by Golden Ring Dragonfly in years gone by , but with ponies grazing the area , and damage to the bankside habitat where they go down to drink , I didn't find any . Coming back up the slope in that heat , without a breath of wind was tiring , but on the path a Green Tiger Beetle gave me a rest while I photographed it . My last sighting of this species was the day I photographed the Smooth Snakes in deepest Surrey . At the top of the slope , I spotted a brownish 'darter' sized dragonfly pass me and settle in the heather , some way off the track . I followed , and it turned out to be a female Keeled Skimmer , keeping out of the way of those male advances . Once again , showing the 'keel' along the back of the abdomen . Also on the path was a butterfly that you would expect to find in this habitat , the Small Heath . I deviated from the path on the way back , and I'm glad I did , for two reasons . The first was as I was walking through a large area of Bracken . I spotted a large dragonfly , hawking for insects , but it moved off before I could get a good look at it . Further on , I came across it again , this time it was perched . It was what I had been looking for at the stream , the aptly named Golden Ringed Dragonfly . I managed this shot , and as I took a second , it launched after a passing insect , and I never saw it again . Having said that , it could have been perched just over the Bracken plant in front , but it was so thick and tall , you couldn't see anyway . The second bonus for the deviation was a distant view of a Woodlark in a dead tree . I took this as a record shot , hoping to get closer , but the Woodlark had other ideas , and flew off almost immediately . When I got to the kissing gate to leave the reserve , I came across a reptile with the right idea . A Common Lizard was sat in the shade on the step , and I had to step over it , without it moving to get to the car park .
Other noteworthy birds seen/heard on site were , Willow Warbler , Redstart - fleeting glimpses of a speckled juvenile and an adult male , Tree Pipit , Nuthatch , Green Woodpecker , Common Whitethroat , Chiffchaff and on my return to the car park , Blackcap .
Other Odonata recorded were , Common Darter , Black Tailed Skimmer and Blue Tailed Damselfly . Other Butterflies recorded were , Meadow Brown and Small and Large Skipper .
And finally , an underwing of a moth that seemed determined to stay on a Pine . Even when it flew , it settled on the next Pine . Any ideas ?

4 comments:

Ken Browne. said...

Hi Greenie.
Seems like you had what I would call a very good day, especially for Dragonflies, and Damselflies. I like the photo of the Golden Ringed Dragonfly.
I wish I could I.D more Dragons and Damsels but most of the time they are just too quick.

Dean said...

Hi, Greenie. Your unidentified moth is a Bordered White. The larvae feed on Pine needles.

Greenie said...

Dean ,
Thanks very much for the moth ID . I remembered a moth depended on Pine , but couldn't extract it from the grey matter .

Kingsdowner said...

Your shot of flowering sundew set me thinking about a trip to Hothfield, and then you mentioned the place in connection with the Keeled thingie.
I'm with Ken on them, however.