Tuesday, 9 June 2009

Tuesday 9th.June 2009

Horrible morning , followed by a not much better afternoon , but a glimpse of sunshine , just for a short while just after lunch , had me heading for Spring Park Pond . Not so much in expectation , more to get out of the house and some fresh air .
Although the sun could be felt through the thinner cloud , a cool breeze was still blowing . I saw absolutely nothing walking across to the pond , and not much more when I got there . The water level was well up with the recent rains , and the vegetation around looked much more lush . In amongst that vegetation , Hedge Woundwort-Stachys sylvatica , a common plant , but with a flower not unlike an Orchid . It is a member of the Labiate family and consequently has a square stem , like the rest of the family . The name Woundwort , was given to several species that were thought to have healing properties , and were used to make plasters and ointments . On the emergent vegetation around the shallow edges of the pond , I started finding the exuvia , the old skin of the larval stage , of Emperor Dragonfly , from which the adult emerged . I had a good look all around the pond and found a total of 26 Emperor exuvia . Last year I found 19 , and the year before 39 exuvia . I take them off the vegetation on each visit , so we can find how many have emerged over the season . I haven't found any Broad Bodied Chaser exuvia this year around the pond , but large numbers of Damselfly exuvia are on the vegetation . An expert can identify the species of Damselfly that has emerged from any given exuvia , as they all have different characteristics . Of course the Damselfly exuvia are much smaller than that of the Emperor Dragonfly , as this shot shows . Also empty around the pond were these Ram's Horn Snail Shells . These snails were bred for the aguarium industry on a large scale , and were probably dumped into the pond , like at least two Goldfish that I have seen swimming around there . Just a couple of Large Red and 10+ Common Blue Damselflies were recorded on the pond , along with one male Broad Bodied Chaser .
I then made my way to the small sheltered meadow , looking in the Bramble and Thistle patches . It was here that I found the only adult Emperor Dragonfly and two female Broad Bodied Chasers . The Brambles also held two Small Coppers , one pictured here . It also provided my first top wing of Meadow Brown for the year , as all others have been tucked down in the grass , wings tightly shut . As can be seen by the small amount of colour on the top wing , and
none at all on the hindwing , identifies this specimen as a male . Also amongst the Nettles were several Harliquin Ladybirds , identified by their crimson colour and M or W shaped marking behind the head . In some places they are becoming the only Ladybird seen . The recent rains has also brought on the Creeping Thistles , much liked by lots of insects , and of course , smelling of Honey . There were also a couple of wasp coloured insects , the colouring probably putting off predators , but I'm not sure of their species .

From the eyes and single wings , I would say they were flies rather than Bees or Wasps , but I'm not sure . Finally , on the feeder when I got back , just before a shower , a pair of Greenfinches , as usual , the male in the brighter feathers .


Warren Baker said...

You saw more than i did Greenie. It was a terrible day's wildlifing!

I've got some of that woundwort in my garden, from the days when i tried to make a wildflower meadow.

Ken Browne. said...

Hi Greenie.Nice pictures.I have been trying to find out what those Hover flies are, and I think they are:Top picture,Chrysotoxum Cautum, and Helophilus Pendulus. I hope thats right.

Rambling Rob said...

I think the flies may be hover-flies, the second one with the fore-and-aft striped thorax possibly a Helophilus - I've seen something similar about on dog roses.

ShySongbird said...

Lots of interesting facts on this and the last post, I hadn't realised about the square stems on the members of the labiate family or that the Creeping Thistle smells of honey or is that only noticeable to insects? I really must try to be more observant!

On the previous post the Bee Orchid had me fooled as I really thought there was a Bee on it, as did the Brimstone Caterpillar which was so well camouflaged I thought it was just a leaf at first.