Category Archives: Dragonflies

Demons Of The Swamp Vol.3

Fans of The Cramps will get the title and if you don’t like The Cramps a. What is wrong with you? b. Why are we friends? Maybe we’re not.

Anyway, a blog post. First in a year? Does anyone still read blogs? If so read on.

Yesterday I went on my first twitch in absolutely ages. What did I twitch? A Purple Swamphen Porphyrio porphyrio, some call it Western Swamphen, I still prefer Purple Gallinule. Will it ever be accepted onto the BOU British List? I doubt it but then Chinese Pond Heron made so maybe.

Anyway one arriving at RSPB Minsmere we were soon watching Sizewell B Nuclear Power Station. I mean the Swampmonster.

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Sizewell B

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Purple Swamphen

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Purple Swamphen

After a while of watching the Swampdonkey walk round a pool a sort of purple haze descends on a man and it was time to head off to the visitor centre to buy some china tea cloths or something and a coffee and bacon butty.

Around the centre, as well as the stench of composting toilets, are lots of Buddleia bushes. These attracted a steady stream of insects and a steady stream of photographers.

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Migrant Hawker

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Migrant Hawker

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Migrant Hawker

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Peacock & Red Admiral

By now we needed to see more birds and better insects so yomped a whole 300m to look at the Stone Curlew, two adults and a chick. Can’t be too many places you can see Purple Gallinule and Stone Curlew in the same reserve.

Back towards the centre we dipped Pantaloon Bee but scored with the Beewolves and a bonus if somewhat shy Purple Hairstreak.

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Beewolf

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Beewolf

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Purple Hairstreak

We finished our day watching a pair of Honey Buzzard put on a full flight display over Westwood Lodge at Walberswick. The three lifers in the day Brian Moore’s granddaughter Rosie certainly hit a purple patch!

All photos were either iPhonescoped (still or 4K video) or taken using the camera on the iPhone 6S. Stills from video were taken using the StillShot app.

 

 

 

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All White?

Took Minnie out for a bit of a walk this lunchtime as I needed to post a letter… you still can, for a limited time only if this ConDem Govt. gets its way. I took her along Tom Long’s Meadow, a fantastic bit of wet woodland and scrub (that the local allotment society want to plough up and turn into allotments) that parallels the Loughborough Rd through Quorn. A once regular site for Lesser Spotted Woodpecker – after successful breeding nearby I hope they will be there again soon. I hope Quorn Parish Council veto the idea.

Plenty of Butterflies in evidence, indeed, every nectar source seems filled with Butterflies at the minute. This year is turning into one of the best for many a year. Large numbers of Small White and Large White as well as good numbers of Peacock and signs of a recovery for Small Tortoiseshell after the poor years previously.

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A fresh Southern Hawker and a few Brown Hawker on the wing – both hunting Butterflies!

The ‘poor quality’ photos were using the Doris lens and Sussex film in Hipstamatic on the iPhone 4S.

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Pacific Rim

Not for me the new epic by Guillermo del Toro but an after work twtich to Rutland Water for the Pacific Golden Plover.

After the weekend, what you really don’t need is a County mega mid-morning. That’s just what happened yesterday! After sweating, physically and mentally all day by 17.15 I was on my way to Rutty with Adam Archer and Colin Green. The reserve had stayed open to 18.30 so we had to get permits… thankfully at 18.05 they didn’t ask for full money.

Heron Hide was packed when we got there so a quick look through Rob Lambert’s scope and we headed round to Wigeon hide. The PGP never showed close and digiscoping was tough but what a bird. A times when it hunched its neck both Richard Bayldon and I felt it resembled a mini Little Bustard.

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Easier to digiscope, and good value for my forthcoming talk at Birdfair was this Egyptian Goose.

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On our way back we came across a stunning male Southern Hawker, it did land but was in deep shade by 20.00. What a great evening!

Black Sunday

Phew! What a scorcher! This morning I picked up The Leicester Llama at 08.30 for a day looking for insects. Our first stop was Glapthorn Cow Pasture where I’ve spectacularly failed to ever photograph Black Hairstreak… well not today baby. Only problem we had were non of the insects that came down were pristine. Still, I’ve broken my duck.

Black Hairstreak

Black Hairstreak

Black Hairstreak

Black Hairstreak

A few other Butterflies with Large Skipper, Meadow Brown and Ringlet being seen as well as a Brown Hawker and a Red Kite.

Large Skipper

Large Skipper

Moving down the A1 we headed to Paxton Pits to look for the recently discovered Norfolk Hawkers. Finding Norfolk Hawker wasn’t difficult, photographing them was!

Norfolk Hawker

Norfolk Hawker

Norfolk Hawker

Norfolk Hawker

Good numbers of other Odonata with Emperor DragonflyHairy Dragonfly, Four-spotted Chaser and Black-tailed Skimmer as well as Common Blue Damselfly, Variable Damselfly, Red-eyed Damselfly, Blue-tailed Damselfly, Large Red Damselfly all seen.

Four-spotted Chaser

Four-spotted Chaser

Common Blue Damselfy

Common Blue Damselfy

Blue-tailed Damselfly

Blue-tailed Damselfly

Music, well the title was a close thing with Black Sabbath but I wanted something up beat…

 

 

 

Don’t Wherry, Be Happy

Last Friday Leigh, Minnie and I headed over to Norfolk for a long weekend. My main target was to photograph the Diesel Weekend on the North Norfolk Railway… more of that another day.

After a walk round Sheringham Park, including a trip to the Gazebo – think more a woodland tower than s bit of tarpaulin in the garden – we checked in at our B&B in Roughton. Barn Owl cottage if you’re interested. Following this we decided to try our luck for Swallowtail Butterfly at Catfield Fen. For a Butterfly Conservation reserve I have to say we didn’t see one butterfly actually on the reserve and I couldn’t see any foodplants for the Swallowtails either. We had better luck with Dragonflies including around five Hairy Dragonfly, one Four-spotted Chaser and two Norfolk Hawker. Sadly I couldn’t get a shot of any of these… next time I reckon I’ll go back to Strumpshaw Fen.

Catfield Fen

Catfield Fen

Again, off the reserve, there were good numbers of Variable Damselfly.

Variable Damselfly

Variable Damselfly

Back at base we took a walk to the New Inn in Roughton to enjoy a lovely Chinese/Malay meal washed down with a few of Woodforde’s finest… Don’t Wherry, Be Happy!

Woodforde's Wherry

Woodforde’s Wherry

Green Wing

On Sunday, I returned to Muston, this time with Orchid Maestro Dave Gray as Leigh and I had failed to find the field with the orchids the day before. Dave led me up the path – and not the one we took on Saturday – and straight into a field full of Green-winged Orchid (I’m pretty sure it’s a species tick).

Muston Meadows

Muston Meadows

There are a variety of ‘clones’ ranging from deep purple through pink to pure white, though the latter were hard to find.

Green-winged Orchid

Green-winged Orchid

Green-winged Orchid

Green-winged Orchid

After filling our boots here we dropped into the Old Forge Tearooms in the village – a nice coffee and a nice bit of coffee and walnut cake too – before heading off to Jericho Bridge on the Grantham Canal at Barkestone le Vale.

Here we searched out up to five Hairy Dragonfly, probably three males and two females. One of which was ovipositing.

Hairy Dragonfly

Hairy Dragonfly

Hairy Dragonfly

Hairy Dragonfly

Plenty of damsels on the wing too with good numbers of the site speciality, Variable Damselfly.

Variable Damselfly male

Variable Damselfly male

Variable Damselfly female

Variable Damselfly female

On the way back to the car we noted these huge Bracket Fungi, each the size of a dinner plate.

Bracket Fungus

Bracket Fungus

 

 

Moss Side

A long while I go I booked one of Natural England’s walks onto Chartley Moss. This year I thought I’d invite Moss newbies Colin Green and Dave Gray along. So after a few anxious emails and texts to reserve manager Melanie Brown on Friday, when it was positively Baltic, I was assured White-faced Darter had started to emerge 10 days ago. The weather forecast was also set fair.

Chartley Moss

Chartley Moss

I led a bird walk in Belgrave Cemetery in the morning and after meeting up with Col and Dave we headed off into darkest Staffordshire. Fortified with sandwiches and in my case a Bacon, Sausage and Cheese Oatcake, hey when in Staffs, we met up at the reserve entrance. For anyone whose never been, while you’re in the rolling farmland it’s hard to believe that a few 100m away is a fine example of a Schwingmoor or Quaking Bog.

Elf and Safety Briefing

Elf and Safety Briefing

We soon picked up our first Odonata, my first of the year a nice Large Red Damselfly and a plenty of Green Hairstreak butterflies. These however were very much a sideshow… the White-faced Darter were emerging. I guess all the earlier adults were killed off by the recent cold (hopefully not before ovipositing) so all we saw were tenerals or Lime-faced Darter as they could be called. These smashing little odes were lifers for Col and Dave who, I think, enjoyed the trip.

Emerging White-faced Darter

Emerging White-faced Darter

Teneral female White-faced Darter

Teneral female White-faced Darter

Teneral male White-faced Darter

Teneral male White-faced Darter

Teneral male White-faced Darter

Teneral male White-faced Darter

At the teneral stage, Dragonflies are very susceptible to damage as the wings haven’t yet hardened and a few were clearly never going to make it.

Mel Brown and Friend

Mel Brown and Friend

Other flora to be seen include Bog Rosemary and Sundews.

Bog Rosemary

Bog Rosemary

Sundew

Sundew

After a pretty bad week for the Natural England needed some good PR so many thanks to Mel and her helpers for another great trip onto the Moss. Please note that Chartley Moss is only accessible by contacting Natural England and under no circumstances should anyone attempt to visit without a professional guide.

Chartley Moss

Chartley Moss