First job this morning was to take Carol shopping , but with hindsight , I should have left that till this afternoon , as the best of today's weather was early on . After a quick coffee , I set off first to the Farm Lake . No sign at all of any of the Little Grebe , adult or young , which is sad . Of course the Coot family is still intact , 2 adults and 6 youngsters , and the female was seen collecting nesting materials at a different sight from the first , presumably for her third brood . The weather was still good for butterflies , but only Large and Small Skipper , Meadow Brown , Ringlet and this male Small White were recorded . The most dominant Odonata by far was the Black-tailed Skimmer , which I estimated at 75/100 plus around the lake , with many pairs in the 'wheel or ring' . Just one Emperor Dragonfly , a male was seen . Common Darters were well represented , with some starting to colour up , and this one prepared for a real close up . I heard somewhere recently that a Dragonfly's eye is made up of up to 30,000 individual lenses in each compound eye . A few Damselflies were seen , mainly Azure , male pictured , and Blue-tailed . Not a lot of colour around the lake , but Musk Mallow/Malva moschata is doing it's best to cheer things up , and a white Crab Spider , bottom flower on the left , was using it in the hope that it's breakfast would be attracted to it's flower .
My second stop , in worsening conditions , was at High Elms , not the full butterfly survey , but to see if two special species had emerged , White Admiral and Silver-washed Fritillary . On the way to Burnt Gorse , a quick check on the Violet Helleborine , found all three plants in good order , and with the flower spikes starting to unfurl . With what looked like a botany class going on on Burnt Gorse , but did manage to record two Marbled Whites , now sighted at both ends of the site , before I headed for the small glade between it and the Orchid Bank . The sun was truly at a premium , and when it did appear , it was only for a very short period before being swallowed up by cloud again . But , in one of those short periods , two male Silver-washed Fritillaries entered the arena to fight for it's ownership . One headed off , but the other stopped to nectar , and in doing so , showed the 'silver wash' on the underside of his wings . I had already had a good look for White Admiral , and had seen my first of the year , as it moved it's position some 10 metres up in a Beech , but obviously well out of camera range . Another look around an area of Larches , many draped in Honeysuckle , the food plant of the White Admiral , proved negative , but , high in one of the trees I spotted a Sparrowhawk , a male if I think . I moved position and tried to get closer , but someone had their beady eye on me , and just after this shot disappeared . In what I think was one of the last periods of sunshine , I spotted another White Admiral , right at the back of a Bramble patch . I managed this one shot , when the sun disappeared , and so did the butterfly . Of interest , last year the first sightings for White Admiral and Silver-washed Fritillary at High Elms was 1st.July for both species .Earlier in the visit I spotted a Cuckoo sp. bumblebee , tussling with a much smaller insect on a Bramble flower . When the Bee moved off , I tried to photograph the unusual insect , and caught it just as it took flight , revealing the brightly coloured abdomen . Another species that I haven't come across before . Any offers ?
As I returned home with the sky getting greyer by the moment , I passed the Chicory that I mentioned on Dean's blog/DDD , as still being in bud just a couple of days ago . Well , it has now caught up , with just one flower for every head of buds .