Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Savernake - Emperors of the Purple persuasion!

I visited the excellent Savernake Forest near Marlborough today to see if I could find and photograph the Ruddy Darter seen on Sunday. No luck, 'only' 2 Broad-bodied Chasers and a male and female Emperor. I then went to the column to find the butterfly namesake - Purple Emperor - and saw at least 3 in the canopy and one [presumed female] down low checking out sallows for oviposition potential. Then, walking along the track, I found a male sucking up minerals from a damp shady patch on the ride which allowed amazingly close approach. This fulfilled a lifes ambition to get up close and personal with 'his Majesty'. It nearly climbed onto my finger too when offered but spooked before it's rear pair of legs were aboard!! My wildlife moment of the year so far...

Records for Tues 14th July

I revisited Great Western Hospital pond to see if any SRED's had appeared, but strong winds had kept away all but a few Common Blue and Blue-tailed Damsels. Not even any Skimmers or Emperors! The recent rain had raised the water level [it is a balancing pond] and the aquatic vegetation was submerged so nothing for the SRED's to perch on even if they had been present!

Records for Sunday 12th July

Wayne Clinch visited Savernake Forest [for Purple Emperor butterflies]and after seeing some at the 'Column' he checked out the pond opposite where, as well as Broad-bodied Chasers he saw a single Ruddy Darter. This is the first one reported for the year.

Thursday, 9 July 2009

Bentley Wood Pond

Rob Turner visited one of the ponds in Bentley Wood today and, as well as Large Red and Azure Damselflies he found an emerging Southern Hawker. He managed to get a photo just after it had 'flattened out' it's wings, next to it's exuvia. The wings are rather blurred as they were being vibrated in preparation for the maiden flight! He also had good views of Purple Emperor and White-letter Hairstreak butterflies - not bad for a day with less than ideal weather conditions!

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

More Records for 4th July 2009

Last Saturday Rob Turner, our County Bird Recorder, was mist netting/ringing at Calne sewage works when he spotted a Golden-ringed Dragonfly there. The works are adjacent to the River Marden. This is a new location for this species the nearest being Spye Park, around 3 miles away to the SW. It could be a wanderer from that site or it could be breeding on small feeder streams nearby. Worth further investigation...

Saturday, 4 July 2009

Sightings for 4th July 2009

Today I visited Red Lodge Wood [north of Wootton Bassett], primarily to look for and photograph an aberrant Silver-washed Fritillary [which I was successful in doing]. But as there are 3 ponds there I expected to see some odonata - and I wasn't disappointed. With Common Blue, Blue-tailed and Large Red Damselflies around the ponds plus 2 male Broad-bodied Chasers sparring for territory on the small pond at the eastern end of the main ride. Also in this area were a male and female Southern Hawker and a Brown Hawker. A female BB Chaser sat enjoying the sun on the opposite side of the ride - away from all the frenetic male activity!

Sightings for 2nd July 2009.

Mike Hamzij revisited the Bristol Avon at Whaddon today. As well as seeing his first Brown Hawker of the year he also saw 3 Emperors and at least 10 Scarce Chasers holding territory along the river. Several of the males had scuff marks on their abdomens which shows that they had successfully mated as this is where the female holds on during the wheel position.
I, meanwhile, visited Birch Pool in Savernake Forest only to find it nearly dry. Despite this there were still several Common Blue, Blue-tailed and Large Red Damselflies present. A larva seen to crawl quickly from a mud slurry 'pool' to the only patch of water left looked like a Chaser larva - but the mud was too deep to allow closer investigation!

Thursday, 2 July 2009

Records for 1st July 2009

In a bid to survey another tetrad in the Cotswold Water Park [CWP], I braved the sweltering conditions and walked around lake 26. The most noticeable feature were the huge numbers of Common Blue Damsels - the whole lake was covered in them. There must have been at least 100,000!!!
Red-eyed Damselflies were obviously having a good season here, there were around 140 in the lily pad areas including tandem and ovipositing pairs.
Black-tailed Skimmer was the most numerous anisopteran with an estimated 120 present including mating pairs and ovipositing females.
4-spotted Chasers were still hanging in there with 31 individuals starting to look worse for wear!
Smaller numbers of Blue-tailed and one [still!!] Large Red Damsel plus a solitary Banded Demoiselle completed the damselfly list.
One Brown Hawker and 9 patrolling male Emperors plus two ovipositing females finished the species total of nine for the day.
While trying to obtain some in-flight shots of a patrolling male Emperor, a Comma flew out across the lake and was promptly captured and consumed on the wing!