Saturday, 15 May 2010

Saturday 15th.May 2010

In beautiful sunshine and a very pleasant temperature , I set off for a look at two very local sites to where I live . The first stop was the pond at Spring Park , a site managed by City of London . I was hoping that I might find my first damselflies of the year , but there was nothing flying when I arrived . I started to search the surrounding vegetation , but came up empty handed . I did however find this colourful Red and Black Froghopper , warming up in the sunshine on a Stinging Nettle stem . . Also around the pond I found young specimens of Figwort , and the colour of the young foliage shows how the plant gets it's name . Then , literally , out of the blue , my first Large Red Damselfly landed almost right in front of me , but unfortunately , this specimen did not develop properly . It will survive as it can fly , but the damage could well stop it mating . I decided to have a look at the small sheltered meadow beyond the pond , and as I passed the notice board , a Common Wasp was stripping the wood , probably for nest making material . If you look carefully , the actual scratch marks made by the Wasp's jaws , can be seen on the corner of the post . The small meadow only produced a single Peacock , but hundreds of St.Mark's Flies and a singing Common Whitethroat and Blackcap , pictured . I think that apart from the weather , this Spring will be remembered for the large number of the flies and the really good number of Common Whitethroats . Between the meadow and the pond is always a good area for Orange Tips , and today was no different , with 4 males being recorded , but no sign of any females . Also recorded were 4 Green-veined and 2 Large Whites . Heading back to the car , a last look around the pond , produced an exuvia that I had missed first time . An exuvia is the final skin of the nymph form of a dragon/damselfly . At emergence , the nymph climbs vegetation , then the adult insect breaks out of the exuvia , to fly , after spending all it's previous life under water . The size showed that this was not a damselfly that had emerged , and a closer look confirmed that this was the exuvia of a Broad Bodied Chaser , and the split on the thorax can be seen , from which the adult emerged , so next visit I'll be looking for the adult . With clouds starting to roll in , my second stop was on West Wickham Common , looked after by the same managers . I was welcomed by two pairs of Speckled Wood , trying to knock seven bells out of each other . At the little clearing , surrounded by Oaks , where I get Purple Hairstreaks later in the year , the green of the bramble patch was broken with a speck of light blue . Getting closer , I could see that it was a male Holly Blue , warming up . Within seconds another dropped in , and this one landed and posed with closed wings , giving a good view of it's underwing . In all , 4 were recorded in just a short visit , along with 6 Speckled Wood , 1 Large White and 1 Peacock . Only other interest was a photo opportunity of a Jay in the open , but unfortunately I had the 100mm. lens on and this was the best I could get given the distance . Needless to say , by the time I changed lenses , the Jay had moved on .


Warren Baker said...

The st. marks flies are swarming this year Greenie to be sure. Natures way of balancing the food availability after such a hard winter? Good H. Blue pics :-)

Anonymous said...

Interesting exuvia - I'll keep a look out for those.

ShySongbird said...

A lovely, informative post again Greenie and very nice photos. I just looked the St Mark's Flies up and according to what I read they normally all disappear within a fortnight of St Mark's day so by my reckoning they have outstayed their welcome by about a week, would the cold weather have something to do with that, do you think?

I was out for about four hours today but didn't see one butterfly!

Ken Browne. said...

Hi Greenie.
Nice photo of the Damselfly, shame it mis-formed, still at least it can fly, so it will have some sort of life.
Nice shot of the Froghopper, lovely colours.