Thursday, 6 June 2013

Thursday 6th. June 2013

Started the day with the Down House bird survey , recording a bit better than average for the site ,  20 species  which only included two Summer Migrants , Blackcap and Swift . As usual , I recorded butterflies on the way around , finishing up with just 3 Small Heath , very disappointing . A look on the adjoining West Kent was no better , finding just one Small Heath and one Common Blue . I made
my usual stop at Keston Ponds afterwards , where the main excitement was great splashes as the resident Carp were spawning . The main action was in the middle pond , where females were flanked
by males , waiting for her to spawn in the shallows , for them to add their milt . Even the ornamental Koi Carp that I have seen several times , had a 'shadow' , which became several when she headed for
the shallows . Up on the top pond , things were quieter , but every now and again , a large Carp broke
surface , sometimes just a few metres from where I was standing . There were also two large Pike loitering around the shoals of small fish in the top pond , but I didn't see them make any attacks .  In between the fish sightings , I spotted a dragonfly that appeared every now and again as it made it's patrols around the pond . When I managed to get a good view of it , it turned out to be the species that I failed to see on Tuesday , Downy Emerald . Hyperactive would be an understatement to describe
this species , forever on the move , apart from the occasional hover , which last mere seconds , if you are lucky . When it does want a break , it shoots up to the top of the overhanging trees and out of sight . Not the best lighting , but I had only one place to stand and the sun was behind the dragonfly .  If you want a free reaction test , I can recommend a session trying to get this species into the viewfinder . On another pond , I found what I would describe as a 'teenage' , male , Broad-bodied
chaser . As can be seen the 'teenager' was still 'blueing up' from the golden colour in which all the species emerge . When fully mature , his abdomen will be powder blue . As I photographed him , a female approached the pond , and in the wink of an eye , he clasped her , mated with her on the wing , and left her to lay her eggs , releasing a spherical egg ever time she dipped the end of her
abdomen into the water , as he patrolled overhead . She had only just started laying , when a second female appeared . In seconds , he had clasped her and again mated on the wing . The two females then performed synchronised laying , once again with the male overhead . After that performance , I think he can be referred to as a adult male . As I returned to the car to go home for
lunch , the local 'Cyril' was sorting his out too .
After lunch , I made a visit to Hutchinson's Bank , to see how the Small Blues were getting on after a few days of good weather . The answer , very well , with 15+ seen , all but one males , and the female found was in the process of starting next year's flight . I found her , a duller brown colour compared
to the male , fluttering over a patch of Kidney Vetch , even though the plants haven't started to flower yet . She was very fussy over the unopened flower buds ,  but eventually she seemed to be satisfied
by one specimen , and the end of her abdomen descended into the heart of the flower bud . When she moved on , she looked at other buds on the same plant but didn't settle on any , and eventually moved on to another plant . When she was far enough away not to interrupt her , I moved in for a look at the
flower bud that she had layed on , and there , a tiny white speck , hopefully the start of a butterfly that I will see next year . As normal , the males were engaged in aerial battles with any intruder in their
space , but that didn't seem to apply when it came to recharging the fluid levels , in this case nectar from Birdsfoot Trefoil . Lots of Brimstone , several Large White and Common Blue , a couple of Peacock and a few 'beginning to look tatty' Dingy Skippers were also seen . The surprise sighting was
a superb 'out of the box' female Brown Argus , identified as such by the orange spots reaching the leading edge of the forewing , in the male the spots stop short . Well satisfied , I headed home for a cool down .


Warren Baker said...

Not many flutters here at all now Greenie, now the great habitat at the tree nursery has been ploughed in. I don't think i'll be seeing the likes of Brown Argus again :-(

Chris Rohrer said...

Wonderful butterflies! Looks like a great day out in the field:)

ShySongbird said...

Quite a fishy tale to start with Greenie. Great observations regarding the Small Blue and the egg laying, most people would miss that but you never do. Very smart Brown Argus.

I missed commenting on a couple of posts but have enjoyed reading them and the lovely photos. Very impressed with all the orchids you have found and the lovely photos of the Duke of Burgundy.

Phil said...

Nice to see some dragonfly action at last Greenie. I added Downy Emerald to my NH list on Wednesday.
Looks like even the fish are behind schedule this Spring.

Spock said...

I had my first Brown Argus today at Hutchinsons Bank, needed to film it for my talk next weekend so was well pleased.

Marianne said...

That's a good day out, the Brown Argus is just dazzling, great action shots of the carp and dragons. I can fully empathise with your comments on photographing Downy Emeralds, I was almost ready to chuck my camera in the lake after one particularly frustrating half-hour last year!

Ken. said...

Great Carp action shots, I like the 3rd one, as for the dragonfly in flight pics, I know what you mean about how difficult it is, tried it a few times, very difficult,I need a lot more practice.
You should be satified with the Brown Argus shot,good find, good photo.