Thursday, 5 May 2011

Thursday 5th. May 2011

I had things to do this morning and late afternoon , so just managed a visit to Spring Park Pond to check on the Broad Bodied Chasers shortly after lunch . The morning cloud had started to thin , but on my arrival , another bank of cloud moved in . The pond itself was quiet , and a noticeable drop in the number of St.Mark's Flies was obvious . Many were struggling in the water , either blown there or fallen in at the end of their time . Once again the Smooth/Common Newts were making the most of the situation . I meant to mention yesterday that I had found large numbers of them dead or dying on the paths on the Greensand Ridge , but thinking about it , I have never seen a bird or dragonfly or other predator take one of these flies , alive or dead .
Has anyone else seen that happen ? I have seen 'gangs' of these flies attack larger insects including butterflies , which have trespassed into the fly's territory , not that they caused any harm to the trespassers . A Harlequin Ladybird was found and in the same area , a Caddis Fly , Phryganea grandis , I believe . With nothing else to see around the pond , I headed for the small sheltered meadow , where I found immature Broad Bodied Chasers on my last visit . That proved to be the start of an 'insectfest' , the main performers being ,
Cardinal Beetle / Pyrochroa coccinea ,
a very worn Peacock , necaring on Bluebells . The new generation are due early August , but the way this year is going , it could be early July , a minimun of a dozen Froghoppers / Cercopis vulnerata ,yet another frustrating pair of butterflies , this time Large Whites , and again it was the female , the one with the spots , that was not prepared to mate ,a male Oedemera nobilis , a Lacewing / Chrysopa septempunctata ,a Red Tipped Flower Beetle / Malachius bipustalatus ,and a hunting spider , disturbed as it was finishing it's lunch .
I stopped at the pond again on my way back to the car , just as the sky was clearing , and that was the cue for the Odonata . From nowhere , two male Broad Bodied Chasers appeared , and immediately started scraping over territory . Two became four , and it was all out war .

When possible , rests were taken , sometimes on the expected emergent vegetation , but also , a first for me , down on the ground , more reminiscent of Black-tailed Skimmers . Things really went crazy when a female appeared and of course all four wanted to mate with her . After much chasing and barging , one of the males was successful , and as is usual with this species , mated with her in mid-air , after which she disappeared for a while . When she returned , she flew low over the surface , choosing where she would lay her eggs , with the male patrolling nearby . When satisfied , she dipped the end of her abdomen below the surface , and released a single sphere shaped egg each time she did so . I watched her laying for several minutes , before without warning , she lift high into the trees overhead , away from the males . Also recorded were 3 Large Red , 2 Blue-tailed and 2 Common Blue Damselflies . Peacocks were the most numerous butterflies recorded with 6 , 1 Otrange Tip , 2 Large White , 3 Green-veined Whites and 2 Small Whites were also recorded .


Warren Baker said...

I watch the starlings take the St. Marks flies Greenie.

Phil said...

Rainbow Trout like St Mark's flies Greenie, I think a lot of trout fishermen call them Hawthorn flies.
Nice to see the return of the thick legged/kneed beetle. Nice assorted post again.

Paul said...

Hi Greenie, great action shots of those Broad bodied chasers there.

Ken. said...

Hi Greenie.
You aw some nice insect life today, they do make for a good photo, as you have showed, many of them are pretty colourful. Nice blog and photo's.

ShySongbird said...

An 'insectfest' indeed Greenie!! An interesting post as always with some lovely photos too.

Fascinating insight into the Odonata breeding/egg laying process.

Alan Pavey said...

Nice post again Greenie, especially like the flower beetle and the Chasers.