Saturday, 12 May 2012

A day of drama!

After the heads up from Chris about emerging Downy Emeralds at Lower Moor Farm, yesterday, I thought I'd try my luck today as I've never seen this species emerging before. I arrived at the location at 9.30am only to find the wind had changed from West [yesterday] to NE today and so the spot, instead of being in the lee of the wind was taking the full brunt of the freezing gusts! I despaired of seeing anything - then by chance noticed one emerging on the West side of the handrail surrounding the wheelchair 'layby'. I then started spotting more; another one on the handrail, 3 on the West edge of the board walk and 2 in the grass below the board walk - all in the lee of the wind! Not daft these dragonflies! Unfortunately the 2 on the handrail were more exposed to gusts and both were dislodged while their wings were still soft and both suffered irreparable damage to their wings [both were female too which was a bit of a blow!]. The remaining 5 were all in more sheltered spots and were able to achieve maiden flights; these were 4 males and 1 female. The final individual's first flight [the female] was at 2.45pm - 3hrs 45mins after I first saw her crawl up the side wall of the board walk as a larva! So 5 out of 7 were able to achieve maiden flights despite the sunny but adverse conditions - almost entirely due to the man-made structure there! There was a supporting cast of emerging Common Blue and Red-eyed Damselflies and one or two semi-mature Blue-tailed damsels. After nearly 6 hours watching these life or death struggles I left feeling emotionally drained - but with a memory card full of shots, some of which I hope will show the full sequence of the day [once I've reviewed and processed them I'll upload a few here]. For now, here's the sad picture of one of the damaged females:
PS: I'm pretty sure I saw a Honey Buzzard fly over heading purposefully Northwards on migration - a Wiltshire first for me!

Lower Moor Farm produces the goods - again!

Friday 11th May 2012. Chris Beard and Rosie Ray visited Lower Moor Farm today on the first decent day for ages. They were justly rewarded....3 Downy Emeralds [2 emerging and one in flight]; 2 Large red-eyed [first of the year]; 1 Blue-tailed [also first record of the year]; several Common Blue and 1 Large Red Damsel - all tenerals.
All of the [excellent] photos are by Chris Beard.

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

6th May, 2012.

As a follow-up to my Downy Emerald exuvia discovery on 30th April, I have received an email from Terry Dabner detailing his sighting of the first 'adult' Downy Emerald - also at Lower Moor Farm! He enclosed a photo which I've posted here which shows a very teneral individual; almost certainly yet to take it's maiden flight, sat next to it's distinctive exuvia. A fabulous shot and a sight I've yet to see myself.

Monday, 7 May 2012

5th May 2012.

Damian Pinguey found 2 males and a female at the usual pond at Chippenham. More flooded than usual due to heavy rain!

Thursday, 3 May 2012

30th April 2012

I have just received belated news from Wayne Clinch that, on Monday, he saw a male Banded Demoiselle on one of his regular luch time walks along the old canal at Moulden Hill CP, Swindon. Another species taking advantage of the very brief glimpse of Spring we had that afternoon!

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Large Red Damselfly (Pyrrhosoma nymphula).Immature ♂

My second species of the year!

Common Blue Damselfly (Enallagma cyathigerum) teneral ♂.

My first odonata of the year.

Downy Emerald (Cordulia aenea) exuvia.

Yesterday afternoon, when the weather suddenly improved, I visited Lower Moor Farm to see if any Odonata might be stirring. I wasn't disappointed! First I disturbed a freshly emerged female Common Blue Damselfly from the lakeside scrub and then I saw an immature male Large Red Damselfly sunning itself on a bramble leaf. Finally - and this was a major surprise - I found a fresh exuvia of a Downy Emerald dragonfly in waterlogged grass next to the raised boardwalk by the first bird hide. This is the earliest emergence ever for Wiltshire! No adult was seen however.
Lots of species must be chomping at the bit to emerge and get on with the serious business of procreation - all they need is a spell of warm sunny weather, preferably with no wind!
The adoption of the online recording system 'Living Record' was a great boon last year, so if you want to help with the final year of the Atlas fieldwork then contact me and I'll give you details of how to use the system.
Let's hope for more stable fine weather soon....