A thoroughly horrible morning , with drizzle and periods of heavier rain , up to past lunchtime . But a glimmer of blue sky had me heading out for a local look around , starting with the farm lake . I arrived in a decent patch of clear sky , and managed my first lap around the lake , in pleasant sunshine . The Little Grebe are still two adult pairs and the one juvenile , now as big , but not as colourful as the adults . The five Coot youngsters were as noisy as ever , constantly asking for food . No sign of the first brood youngsters , so I can only assume that the male drove them off the lake soon after the second brood hatched out . He probably drove off the Mandarin family as well , as I have not seen them since that one fleeting glimpse a good while ago now . Even the four young Mallards have gone , but they should have been big enough to look after themselves . Just two Emperor Dragonflies were recorded , along with many newly emerged Common Darters , but no sign of any Black Tailed Skimmers . Common Blue , Azure and Blue Tailed Damselflies were also recorded . Gatekeepers were by far the most numerous butterflies , but it was noticeable that there had been an emergence of Common Blues , as 13 males , and a single female were recorded , and I swear she had a smile on her face . Whilst walking in the long grass , I put up a Silver Y , day flying moth , which as usual dived into the vegetation further on , only to dive out again several times , and finish up out in the open , amongst the shorter grass at the top of the bank . Unusual , because they normal try to hide themselves , so as I got the camera out , I quite expected it to fly off again , but it didn't . I managed to get really close , but unfortunately , from this angle , the 'Y' in the middle of the wing , looks more like a '2' . I got half a dozen shots , then left it alone . As I started my second lap , clouds were building , and got thicker and consequently the pace increased . Nothing new was found , but as I was finishing , I heard slashing in the last corner of the lake . I couldn't make it out without binoculars , but with them , I was able to make out a Little Grebe , trying to eat a female Emperor Dragonfly . I don't think it would have caught the dragonfly , more likely , it was either downed onto the surface by rain , and couldn't escape the surface tension , or it had had it's time , died , and was just floating on the surface . Whatever happened , the Little Grebe was trying to break up the abdomen , and finally , disappeared into the emergent vegetation with the remains , wings and all , sticking out of it's bill . Before I reached the car , the rain started , but I decided to have a look at Keston Ponds , hoping that it was just a short shower , which it turned out to be . Apart from anglers , it was quiet , but I was pleased to record a pair of Small Red Eyed Damselflies in tandem , so hopefully we will have them again next year . Around the edges of the top pond , Figwort , a member of the large Labiate family was in flower , supported by those square stems , and it seemed very popular with the bees .
A quick look around the Ash tree found little movement from the PHs , but on the heathland area , I noticed a probable female spider , guarding her egg sack , within its protective web . With rain threatening again , a last stop at the stand of Nettles , confirmed that all was well with the Small Tortoiseshell caterpillars . Hopefully , if thing continue well in the next few weeks , they will pupate , and emerge as adult butterflies before the weather gets too bad , then hibernate in a warm , dry place to emerge again , May-ish , next year . Whilst checking them , I noticed a Shield Bug , with a smaller insect next to it . The smaller one turned out to be a youngster , and on a leaf , very close by , I found what looked like the Sheid Bug creche , with insects of varying sizes .
I just beat the next shower to the car , and headed home .
Next two days on the Greensand Ridge , so posting will depend if anything of interest is found .
3 hours ago