Sunday, 27 July 2014

Sunday 27th. July 2014

A catch up on the last few very humid , sunny days .
On Thursday morning , helped with the Down House butterfly survey again , with numbers down
from last week , but did produce a few freshly emerged Small Copper , pictured , a species that seems to be very much in decline this year , and two Dark Green Fritillaries amongst the more common species . In the Sandwalk Wood , the Violet ( not Violent as previously described ) Helleborines were
found in full flower , but always difficult to do justice in a photograph due to their preferred gloomy environment . After lunch I did the High Elms transect , and like at Down House , found numbers down from last week . 16 species were recorded , with at last a single White-letter Hairstreak being

found in the bottom glade , nectaring on the Canadian Golden Rod and the Hemp Agrimony . I have heard since that Keith had 5/7 specimens on Saturday which is good news . A first record of the year
on transect was a female Holly Blue found along the bridlepath , another species that has been is short supply this year . But for some butterflies it was the end of the line , like this Ringlet that
stopped to nectar on the CGR , only to find a Crab Spider waiting in ambush , and now the spider's meal as it's wings flapped lifelessly in the breeze . On Friday , I returned to New Hythe , hoping to get a shot of the male Lesser Emperor seen on Wednesday . Conditions had changed with the wind blowing across the lake rather than down it , which reduced markedly any Odonata sightings , never mind the LE . Three hours of scanning failed to produce a single sighting of the LE , and I arrived back at the car park like a wet rag having humped a heavy camera bag up and down the lake side for that time . A late evening phone call from the other Keith , meant a change of plan for an Odonata visit to East Kent , planned for Sunday , but having to be rearranged for Saturday . We set off with 4 hoped for targets , The LE and 3 members of the Emerald Damselfly family , Scarce , Southern and Willow . Our first stop was at Cliffe Pools , were we arrived in perfect conditions and headed out along the track towards the Black Barn . On the way , we couldn't help but stop to see what was in the roost on Radar Pool . A scan of the far bank produced Blak-tailed and Bar-tailed Godwit , still in breeding plumage , as was a single Spotted Redshank , Greenshank , Avocet and  lots of Lt.Egret , amongst the more common species . Later in the visit we added Marsh Harrier and Common Buzzard . Getting back to the job in hand we arrived at the 'usual' area , and started to scan the ditches . As the sun got higher , the wind also picked up , making things difficult with emergent vegetation swaying in that wind . My 'favoured spot' from previous years failed miserably so the search had to be expanded over a greater area . Eventually the first of two of the species hoped for on
site was found , Scarce Emerald Damselfly . The male , looking very similar to the male Emerald Damsefly , but lacking one half of a segment of pruinescence , just behind the thorax , and a female ,
one of just a few found . We were also lucky enough to find a pair in 'the ring' , but they insisted on
keeping to the vegetation alongside the ditch , making getting a shot more difficult . Other species
photographed in the ring included Blue-tailed Damselfly , the female on the left being of the form rufescens , and Ruddy Darter , which I must say was another species found to be well down on
previous years , but more numerous on site than Common Darter . The book says the flight season foe Black-tailed Skimmer lasts till early August , so finding a very freshly emerged specimen still
drying it's wings was somewhat unexpected . A couple of Southern Emerald Damselfies were spotted , but proved difficult to photograph in the conditions , so was pleased to come across a freshly
emerged female that was willing to pose , showing it's diagnostic bi-coloured pterostigma , and also enjoyed by a fellow enthusiast who was hoping to see the species on site . Other interest found during
the visit included lots of adult Marsh Frogs , who seem to have had a good breeding season , with lots of juveniles about , including this specimen , which although larger than many of the other juveniles ,
unusually still had it's 'tadpole tail' . The most dominant butterfly species on site was the Gatekeeper , with every Bramble bush being decorated with them . Their numbers were in the hundreds , including
this mating pair , and there must have been lots more pairs too . Red Admiral , Peacock Comma , Meadow Brown , and the three Whites , were also recorded . Leaving the site , we joined the M2 to go south of Reculver to look for Willow Emerald Damselfly . The first matrix sign we passed informed of congestion from Junct. 4 to 7 , and we were almost at the first . We decided to give it a try , but almost immediately after passing Junct.4 , being caught up in 'stop/go' traffic . By Junct. 5 , we decided to give up on the WDF on this trip and headed for New Hythe for another attempt to see / photograph the Lesser Emperor . After a quick bite of lunch , and noticing Terry's car in the car park , we set off for the area where he and I had fleeting glimpses of the species on Wednesday . A stint at the most productive area was unsuccessful , so we headed along the lake to the other area , stopping off at a couple of spots in between . It was at one of these that we had our first glimpse of the visit of the male flashing by . Another sighting at the area where it settled briefly on Wednesday , produced another fly by . After a while we returned to the first sighting area and had another fly by , as with others , close in and low to the water . Feeling like it was playing with us , we decided to return to the 'settled' area as it gave a better view of any approach . That it did as we had several more fly bys , but noticing that it was favouring a particular patch of reeds . Keith took up position one side and myself on the other side about 10 mtrs .apart . We had 6/8 more glimpses , and each time we fired off shots as it sped around and disappeared , usually finishing up as a blur when looked at on the back of the camera . But , somehow , both Keith an I managed to get two reasonable shots each , albeit 'rear end'
shots , but show the diagnostic blue saddle on the brown abdomen , a shot for me that has taken 10 hours in the recent humid conditions , but well worth it . Mind you , some person , no names , managed to get their 'rear end' shot in well under half that time . As we made our way back to the car , Keith mentioned it would be great if one of the many Brown Hawkers seen during the visit ,
would just settle for a shot . Within seconds , a male did just that , and finished off the day nicely . I would add that I checked the soles of Keith's boots before he got in the car ! Just as well today's visit was rearranged , as whilst writing this , it's been nothing but cloud .

1 comment:

Marc Heath said...

Great write up Greenie. Iv'e spent hours too trying for a decent LE shot but failed miserably so far. Keep it up, your shot will come.