Saturday, 25 July 2009

Saturday 25th.July 2009

Having aborted the proposed visit to Thursley Common , the other side of Guildford on the A3 , because of the weather earlier in the week , I decided to give it a try this morning , as the outlook looked much more favourable . As I drove round the M25 towards Junction 10 , I began to wonder if I had made a good decision , as the blue skies I left at home , became more cloud laden the further I went , but I carried on . I arrived at the Moat Pond car park at about 0915 , and was welcomed by first the call , then a very brief sighting of Lesser Spotted Woodpecker , the first that I have seen/heard for a couple of years now . That seemed to set the theme for the visit , as I continually heard and saw Great Spotted and Green . The sun was just coming out from a bank of cloud , so I had a quick look at Moat Pond , which produced absolutely nothing , not even a Four Spotted Chaser which are always about , just a large number of , to put it politely , Mallard type ducks .Two Nuthatches and a family of Coal Tits were feeding in the Scots Pines , as I headed off to the main path through the wet area of the Reserve . The first photograph I took was of a butterfly , on the boardwalk , warming up in the sunshine . I had a good idea of it's species , but wasn't positive until I got home and confirmed it with the books , a Grayling . I got two shots , then tried to get onto the sunny side of the specimen . I was very careful , but obviously not careful enough , as it flew off purposefully , not to be seen again .
The first Dragonfly spotted was a Four Spotted Chaser , of the form 'praenubila' , which sports extensive markings near the wing tips , as well as the spot in the middle of each wing . A Damselfly that I usually see here , and not at many other sites , is the Emerald Damselfly-Lestes sponsa , a superb little specimen , that doesn't confirm to the 'Damselflies rest with their wings parallel with the abdomen' statement , but neither does it fit with the 'wings at right angles to the abdomn of Dragonflies' , perhaps it just likes being different . Thursley Common is well known for it's Raft Spiders , and I found one , 'doing what it says on the tin' . sitting on a raft . Well an old piece of duckboard . This one was just a youngster , about 2 cm. from front legs to back , but I have photographed larger specimens on previous visits . About halfway along the track , Black Darters , a species of acidic pools and moorland bogs , became the most numerous species . The male , as the name denotes , is mainly black , and smaller than it's relation the Common Darter . The female is much more colourful , and a brighter specimen completely . I found several freshly emerged females in the long grass , and the males were searching such areas lookin for them , with only one thing in mind when they found one . The biggest problem was when the cloud rolled in , as it did several times , bringing with it much stronger winds , making photography and following specimens almost impossible . It was in a sheltered corner , out of the wind , that I had my only sighting of Banded Demoiselle , a male . This is a species that I usually find in good numbers , but like Emperor Dragonfly , only three were found today , they were not on the wing in that wind . Another species that I find here is the Small Red Damselfy , another lover of acidic bog pools . Apart from the smaller size , it can be identified from the Large Red Damselfly , by the red legs and pterostigma-patches on ends of wings , compared to the black legs and pterostigma of the LRD .
All along the duckboards , whenever the sun came out , so too did the Common Lizards . They seem to come in all colours , but brown and green seem to be the most numerous , with lots of juveniles around . Other butterflies seen were few , just Peacock , Meadow Brown and a still very good conditioned female Large Skipper . I looked on the regenerated Heather , following the fire a couple of years ago , for Silver Studded Blues , but did not find any . But whilst there , I did get good , if distant sightings of two adult male Redstarts , and later saw a juvenile . Unfortunately , no sign of Dartford Warbler . After lunch , the cloudcover got thicker , so I decided to do one last lap in the reverse direction . No new species were found , but on a log in one of the ditches , I found 'the mother of all Raft Spiders ' . It was huge . I would estimate 5 cm. from tip of front , to tip of back legs . I can't be sure , but I think it was a female , and she was quite happy for me to get my shots , after which , I left her in peace .
A really good day out , and made even better by a phone call whilst writing this , that a White Letter Hairstreak was found at High Elms today .
No need to say where I will be tomorrow .


Ken Browne. said...

Hi Greenie. I have heard that that is the place to be for Dragonflies, Damsels, and Butterflies etc.. I will have to go the next time it is going to be a lovely calm day. I would love to see a Black Darter.. What a good day you had. I hope tomorrow is a success for you.

Warren Baker said...

Blimey Greenie,
Its all down hill from here! How are you going to top that visit?
You've given me some critters to look out for, even if they are very unlikely to visit my patch!

ShySongbird said...

Another great and informative post Greenie.

Kingsdowner said...

Godd record of must be time to start checking the Warren at Folkestone.
And to see a lesser spotted woodpecker in July is very mpressive.

Anonymous said...

Some cracking species there, Greenie. Never seen Black Darter & i`ve only seen Grayling once.