Monday, 11 July 2011

Monday 11th. July 2011

I set of this morning in the hope of finding three gems , all emeralds , and headed for the marshes between the town of Cliffe in NW Kent and the Thames estuary . I arrived at the car park and started the long , warm walk out to the area where the three gems might be found . Little did I know at the time that I could have driven in from the other end . The amount of Buddleia flowers on the way was incredible , but unfortunately to was the lack of butterflies , perhaps when things get hotter I thought . One of the few I did see was this Red Admiral along the track . I found the small track off the main one and started searching . Half an hour produced lots of newly emerged Common and Ruddy Darters , a few Blue-tailed Damselflies , but no gems . Two guys arrived in a car , one had been to the site last year and knew that it was possible to drive there . I must admit I was glad to see someone else , as I was starting to doubt if I was in the right place . Now we had three pairs of eyes searching . The odd damselfly was found still roosting amongst the vegetation , and it was quite some time before the first gem , a male Emerald Damselfly/Lestes sponsa was photographed , but the sightings were few and far between . Sightings were abandoned at one point , whilst a Cleg-fly/Tabanus bromius flew into the vegetation , and we were all very keen not to get bitten by this bruiser . As it got warmer , the Odonata increased a bit , with a couple of Emperor Dragonflies passing through , lots more Ruddy Darters , male pictured , and further along the ditch , more Emeralds . Eventually , the second gem was photographed , a male Scarce Emerald Damselfly/Lestes dryas , looking very similar to the Emerald Damselfly , but the pruinescence , the bluing on the abdomen behind the thorax , only covers one and a half segments , whereas on the Emerald Damselfly it covers the whole of the first two segments . The claspers of the two species are also different . All that was needed now was the rarest of the three gems , the Southern Emerald Damselfly/Lestes barbarus . Well , we walked up and down the ditches for ages , but in the end , we gave up , well , best number possible to see was 10 , and the area is massive , so as Meatloaf said 'Two out of three ain't bad' . One of the guys did spot a Caddis Fly , just after it had emerged and walked up some vegetation , but it still needed to remove the case from which it had emerged before it could take to the wing . I left first , having to retrace my steps back to the car park , and after finding quite a few Cinnabar caterpillars on the Ragwort , found an adult , in the shade of a Bramble bush . Along with the Buddleia , there were great swathes of Goat's Rue/Galega officinalis . I had hoped all day that a Clouded Yellow or Painted Lady might be found , and just before reaching the car park , the latter was seen several times , but never stopped for a shot .
As I was almost passing , I stopped off at White Hill , the Butterfly Conservation site managed specifically for the Chalkhill Blue . Having found one on a nearby site over a week ago , I thought it would be bouncing , but in all I only found 8/10 specimens , all males . One of that number was a newly emerged individual , and was up for the finger . Like High Elms , just one 6 spot Burnet moth was found , but in amongst the few butterflies on view was this male Banded Demoiselle , which was willing to pose for a shot . Just before leaving the site I found this smallish black beetle on a leaf of Dogwood/Cornus . I've had a quick look , but haven't found it yet , any help would be appreciated .
Three days volunteering this week , getting things ready for the Detling Show .


Mel Lloyd said...

Hi Greenie. Lovely emerald damsel. I saw (what I think is) a beetle similar to yours on knapweed at the weekend in Worcestershire. I looked in Chinery and thought it was pretty good for Galeruca tanaceti. Link here:

Josh Jenkins Shaw said...

Yes the beetle is Galeruca tanaceti

Alan Pavey said...

Hi Greenie, that was a good day and 2 out of 3 certainly isn't bad at all :-)

ShySongbird said...

Another good visit for you Greenie and as Alan said 2 out of 3 is not bad at all. I had never seen an Emerald Damselfly until last year at Otmoor and have yet to see the other two 'gems'.

Lovely photo of the Chalkhill Blue and always nice to see one of my favourites, the Red Admiral.

Hope you caught my late comment on your previous post.

Would it be possible to have your email address Greenie as I have a small query which doesn't really fit here, mine is:

Ken. said...

Hi Greenie.
You seem to have had a good day out with some good sightings.
I should have looked at you blog yesterday then I would have known what my unidentified dragonflies would have been.

Seth Gibson said...

Hi Greenie,

FINALLY got around to cecking your blog! Nice site, I like :)

All the best, Seth (the guy who'd been to Cliffe the previous year) and Glen (the guy in shorts dodging the clegs!)