Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Wednesday 10th. July 2013

With the sunshine forecasted to last till at least lunchtime , I made an early start for Old Lodge Reserve on Ashdown Forest . I must admit , that when I arrived , I wondered if I had made the right decision , as although sunny , it was very windy , and unusually , didn't hear a single bird from the car park . I was almost half way along the top path before a Wren was heard , then the sound of a Stonechat drew me a bit further down the slope . That noise turned out to be a male , informing
anyone around that I was with the metallic 'chak-chak' . That call was echoed by it's probable mate ,
just to make sure that everyone knew I was there . There then followed a photo opportunity that I
couldn't say no to , when the female flew over and joined the male , and there they stayed 'chaking' away , until I was out of their territory . Just after the gully that runs left off the top path downhill , I caught up with a pair of female/juvenile Common Redstarts . I followed them along the top fenceline , but for every two paces I took towards them , they took the equivalent of three paces away
from me , so I had to settle on a 'from the back , over the shoulder shot' , with breakfast in the bill . I looked in on the pools on the way downhill , but all were bereft of any Odonata , with the lowest one being completely dried up . Even the slope down to the stream failed to produce any interest , most unusual . As I got to the bridge , a fellow enthusiast was just crossing to the far side , and we stopped to compare notes .Both sets were the same . He was from East Sussex , and was on site hoping for Odonata , but found little on the way to that point . We chatted about his equipment , a Nikon top of the range camera , with 500mm. lens , coupled with a 1.4 converter , taking it up to 700mm. , which made me feel most inadequate . At least the stream was sheltered from the wind , and before long a
dragonfly flew in , patrolled over the water for a while , then settled on overhanging vegetation on our bank . That was the bad news , the good news was that it was a Golden-ringed Dragonfly ,
exactly what I was hoping to find . The 700mm. lens was able to move to the far bank and still get almost full frame shots , but I had to stay where I was . It did work out well for me though , as a
female GrD flew in and started ovipositing a bit upstream from where I was standing . This was a
species first for me , and I must admit I was surprised to see the egg laying female dipping the end of
her abdomen into the shallow water , similar to Skimmers and Chasers . I had always assumed that like the other large dragonflies , the Hawkers , this species would deposit single eggs into materials on or around the water's edge . When I got home I checked the book and sure enough I read  'Hovering vertically above the stream, and plunging backwards in action that resembles a pneumatic drill , the female repeatedly and rapidly thrusts the tip of the abdomen downwards into the substrata , which may be gravel , mud or grass , at the stream edge' , another day of learning for me . Soon after the pair flew off upstream , no doubt to find another laying site . I headed back to the upper pools , hoping that there would be some interest , which was provided by at least 3 male and 2 female
Emperor Dragonflies . One of the females was busy ovipositing , while her mate fought of regular attempts by rival males to mate with her . When she finally moved on , the male was able to take a
well earned rest on his favourite perch . The only other species seen were Azure , Common Blue and
Large Red Damselflies and a few Four-spotted Chasers (one pictured) and the odd Broad-bodied Chaser . On the way back to the car park , the Stonechats were still around , but very little else . From Old Lodge I headed for the far side of Ashdown Forest , in search of Silver-studded Skipper butterflies , but a thorough search failed to find a single specimen , worrying . Before heading back to the car , I had a good look around the area and found a few bits of interest ,
Common Sundew / Drosera rotundifolia , in flower ,
a few Green Tiger Beetles / Cicindela campestris , were found , but just one photographed ,
a very fresh , light Large Skipper , nectaring of Cross-leaved Heath ,
and an equally fresh Small Tortoiseshell , were among the few butterflies seen ,
on a re-furbished pond , Arrowhead / Sagittaria sagittifolia , a member of the Water-plantain family ,
and finally , Yellow Dung-fly / Scathophaga stercoraria . I won't go into the background , suffice to say a small herd of cows passed by a few minutes earlier .


Warren Baker said...

It was a bit weird today Greenie, how most insects suddenly became scarce, maybe it was the wind!

As for all that Camera gear, well, it's not what you've got, it's how you use it!! :-)

Marc Heath said...

Golden ringed Dragonfly, wow. On my wanted trip when i go to Thursley in a couple of weeks time. Some lovely shots.

Marc Heath said...

Golden ringed Dragonfly, wow. On my wanted trip when i go to Thursley in a couple of weeks time. Some lovely shots.

Alan Pavey said...

Not heard of any GRD at Sissinghurst yet i'm hoping to get a walk there again before long. A really nice set of pics again, I would like to find one of those Tiger Beetles, very colourful.

alan woodcock said...

Hi,very interesting trip,good read.

Mike H said...

Hi Greenie,

Have not been to Old Lodge yet this year but the lure of those GRD make a trip sound imminent. Have looked around Sissinghurst without success.