Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Tuesday 29th. May 2012

I decided to have a quick look at Spring Park Pond first thing this morning , as it is usually a good spot for Broad Bodied Chasers , one of the dragonfly species found yesterday up on the Ridge . I arrived about 0830 , temperature already 18C , but no sign of any Odonata . I'm afraid that this site has deteriorated as regard species since the pond was first formed , the main problem being introduced vegetation , albeit a notice on the gate asks people not to , clogging the whole thing up , necessitating a yearly clear out of the vegetation , which means that many larvae are pulled out on the mud and roots  , and although left for a time on the side of the pond , do not manage to get back into the pond . I've chatter with the Ranger re. the problem , but there doesn't seem to be much else that can be done , not wanting to use chemicals . But , one group's loss is another's gain , as under the
water was alive with Smooth / Common Newts . I don't think I have ever seen so many at once before , with the males with their raised crests , chasing the non crested females . Every now and
again , an intruded would come on the scene , but the incumbent males usually saw these off . I was hoping to photograph a female laying an egg in a folded blade of grass or the like , but unfortunately didn't manage that . After about an hour , and still no sign of any Broad Bodied Chasers , I decided to see if I could find any on the woodland edge vegetation , which also failed , so I headed for the
small meadow , finding specimens of the Thick-legged Flower Beetle / Oedemera nobilis , only the
males have the thick thighs , and the Red Tipped Flower Beetle / Malachius bipostulatus , on the way . The small meadow was very quiet , but then I saw what I thought was a female BBC , but on chasing it down , proved to be a queen Hornet , same colour abdomen and almost as big . I tried hard
for a shot , but she stayed amongst the dead bracken and bramble . Then , a BBC flew in and landed on a dead stick , the blue abdomen identifying it as a male . A couple of minutes later , and a female
turned up . But , be careful of identifying yellow specimens of this species as females , as all juveniles emerge in this colour , the male's abdomens turning blue as they mature . Walking away
from this female , a splash of red crash landed in the long grass . It turned out to be the day flying
Cinnabar moth , and the answer to the question is yes . Heading back to the pond , I found a Garden
Chafer / Phyllopertha horticola along the way , and patrolling over the pond , at least four male BBCs . I also spotted the exuvia of the species , still gripped to the vegetation that it used to
transform from larva to dragonfly . While watching the males scrapping , a female flew in , and straight away one of the males grabbed her , mated on the wing , and then stayed close whilst she
started laying her eggs , carrying his genes . Each time she dipped her abdomen into the warm , shallow water , she would release a globe shaped egg that should hatch quickly in the warm water .
Whilst egg laying , another male tried to mate with her , but the original male drove him off , and while they were both out of the way , she made her escape . More damselflies were about now too ,
many egg laying in tandem , like these three pairs of Azure Damselfly , and the Dock Bugs / Coreus
marginatus weren't going to be left out of all this procreation business ., tumbling in the bankside vegetation . I found some of last year's stalks of Purple Loosestrife and set three pieces in the bank ,
overhanging the water . As I left the pond all three were occupied , but my favourite perch was this
one , on a soon to open Yellow Flag Iris . Butterflies recorded were Orange Tip , Peacock , Holly Blue , Large and Small White . As I walked across the meadow to the car , Yellow Rattle /
Rhinanthus minor , a semi parasitic plant and member of the Figwort family , had just started to flower .
Now some tidying up from last night's post . Firstly thank you to ShySongbird  who I know spent much time trying to ID the beetles , and putting forward a possible for the second one .
Next , thanks to Phil for IDing the third beetle as the Click Beetle / Athous haemorroidalis , even if we had to put up with his toilet humour , Cheers Phil .
And finally Greg who corrected the ID of my first shot last night as Cryptocephalus aureolus or
C.hypochaerides , not the Mint Beetle I thought it was . Then IDd the red and black beetle in the same family C.bilineatus , only to correct it a few minutes later to C.bipunctatus . I read the first message , Googled the first ID and found a yellow and black beetle . Now , how do I tell Greg that he is wrong ? I thought the only way was to try the professional entomologist who helps when I'm really stuck . He came back with C.bipuntatus or C.biguttatus , both of which are rare , stating it's very difficult to tell them apart . It was only then that I found Greg's amended ID . But the professional also IDd the second beetle as
Dascillus cervinus , so all are now identified . Thank you all for your help , it is very much appreciated , apart from Phils jokes of course .


Phil said...

Nice to see the newts Greenie, a very nice little creature. Mine have flourished since I got rid of the fish from the pond. Or more accurately the Herons got rid of the fish.
Toilet humour? Me!! How very dare you!!! I'm flushed with embarrassment now.

ShySongbird said...

A very interesting read Greenie and lovely photos again. So nice to see the newts. Good to see that Odonata is doing well in Kent. Despite looking in all the usual places I have only found one damsel here so far this year!

Glad your mystery beetles were successfully identified. I haven't had much luck this year so far but it's always fun trying.