Saturday, 26 July 2014

More firsts for the year!

Paul Winter has visited Cadnam Common Pond during the last week and, as well as the usual suspects, has seen Small Red Damselflies (Ceriagrion tenellum) with the first Common Hawkers (Aeshna juncea) of the year with one on one day and two possibly 3 on another. He has also seen the first Black Darter (Sympetrum danae) there on his second visit.
On 24th July Damian Pinguey visited Green Lane Wood near Trowbridge and saw his [and the county's first] Migrant Hawker of the year. It was an immature male flying around the car park clearing.
On the same day Gareth Harris found an exuvia of the same species in the CWP, so both VC's now have their firsts for the year. They should become a familiar sight as numbers build, and should be with us until the first hard frosts in Oct/Nov - a situation hard to visualize at the moment as we're in the middle of a prolonged heatwave!
While slaving away in the garden in the oppressive heat yesterday, as a reward, I was treated to brief but welcome sightings of a female Southern Hawker and an immature male Common Darter.
Hopefully soon I shall see my first Migrant Hawker of the year too.....

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

The return of the Small Red-eye!

After a tip off from Damian Pinguey yesterday, I visited the model boating lake at Coate Water Country Park in Swindon today. I'm pleased to be able to report that Small Red-eyed Damselfly (Erythromma viridulum) is back!
...and back in good numbers - there were between 100 - 150 there! I saw several pairs in cop and in tandem plus some ovipositing going on.
With less than ideal conditions for the past couple of seasons it just shows that even very small numbers keeping the colony 'ticking over' can then result in a boom when conditions are right!
Males were zipping about all over the lake and even came close enough for an attempt at an in-flight shot!
I also checked out the hospital pond as it has recently been managed, with most of the bankside scrub removed and a lot of the Bulrush taken out. Unfortunately there are now some huge carp in there which have 'hoovered up' all the submerged vegetation. As a consequence of which there are no surface mats of algae either and so no Small Red-eyes this year....
Damian  had a single E. viridulum on a pond in the Town Gardens in Swindon last year - so a visit there will be a must in the next day or so!

Monday, 21 July 2014


...although first some late additions for June!
Damian Pinguey saw the first White-legged Damselfly (Platicnemis pennipes)of the year on the R. Avon at Mortimores Wood, just South of Chippenham on the 9th June.
This was followed on 29th June by the first Southern Hawker (Aeshna cyanea), discovered by Alison Maddock at Bratton.
In between these was an interesting sighting of a very mature female Broad-bodied Chaser (Libellula depressa) by Vernon Moger on 14th June ovipositing in his garden pond in Royal Wootton Bassett. This female had taken on the blue colouration of the male on several of her abdominal segments!
This could be a combination of over maturity and prolonged hot weather - I'd be interested to hear what others think!
On 29th June, Barry Watts found the first Golden-ringed Dragonfly (Cordulegaster boltonii) of the year at Black Dog Wood near Chapmanslade just within the Western edge of the county boundary.
A different individual [or possibly the same!?] was seen on 6th July by Brian Seaman in the part of the wood on the other side of the road.
On 11th July I visited Red Lodge Wood to look for White-letter Hairstreak, but was pleasantly surprised to find the large pond near the entrance had been dredged and all the Marestail that had totally clogged the pond had been removed. As well as 2 male and 2 ovipositing female Emperors (Anax imperator), patrolling Southern and Brown Hawkers (Aeshna grandis), an old 4-spot Chaser and male Black-tailed Skimmer, there were many Emerald Damselflies (Lestes sponsa); which are quite thin on the ground, generally, in Wilts.

Finally, yesterday 20th July, I ran an insect ID workshop at the Wiltshire Wildlife Trust's reserve of Conigre Mead on the Western edge of Melksham, by the River Bristol Avon. As well as the usual suspects [Emperor, Southern and Brown Hawkers, Common Darter, Banded Demoiselle; Blue-tailed,  Azure, Common Blue and White-legged Damselflies] I was very pleased to see a mature male Scarce Chaser (Libellula fulva) holding territory on the river bank. You could tell he had successfully mated due to the tell-tale scuff marks on his abdomen!

We later briefly saw the same or a different individual patrolling along the meadow ride adjacent to the river.
There are still a few species to be recorded yet this year so hopefully there will be some more news at the end of the month or in August.
As always, many thanks to the recorders mentioned for the use of their fine images to help illustrate this blog update.

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

June Updates

What with being away in Italy for the first half of June and my internet access since then being very hit and miss [putting it mildly]I thought I'd leave it til the end of the month to let you know what's been happening. New species seen for the year, this month, include Scarce Blue-tailed Damselfly [Ischnura pumilio]At both ends of the county in New Forest VC8 and CWP [Paul Winter and Gareth Harris respectively]. Also seen by Paul in the New Forest were Keeled Skimmer, Emerald Damselfly and Common Darter on 8th/11th June. Jonathan Parkhouse, who has fairly recently moved to Box, discovered several semi-mature Scarce Chasers on the Bybrook near his house on 22nd June.He managed to get a cracking trio of shots!
Also Phil Smith reported Scarce Chasers still present at the Caen Hill Locks on K & A canal at Devizes - having territorial fights with Black-tailed Skimmers! Lorraine Blakey has refound Bt Skimmers at Langford Lakes this year and got a cracking shot of a mating pair!
David Rear has found Beautiful Demoiselle at two new locations in SW Wilts; on the Ansty Stream and Oddford Brook near Tisbury. I also found them at a new location in the North. In the Winter I visited a location near Marshfield which has the Broadmead Brook running through it. I went to see the rare migrant bird, Red-flanked Bluetail! It's on the edge of the Cotswolds limestone and I thought at the time the stream looked perfect C. virgo territory. So I went back last week....and in a 1km stretch found 18 males and 5 females!! I love it when a plan comes together ;o) Also there were Banded Demoiselles, Blue-tailed and Large Red damsels; and a single male Broad-bodied Chaser.
I was particularly pleased to get the shot of the female showing her 'I want to be alone' wing signal! It must have worked as all males that approached then veered off when they saw her hold her wings out flat!
New recorders, Judy and Richard Gosnell from Royal Wootton Bassett,  found a male BBC on the Wilts & Berks canal at Chaddington Lock near RWB so hopefully they will provide more coverage in future from this under watched area - many thanks to you both.
Finally, I paid a visit to Roves Farm on 26th to [successfully] check if Ruddy Darter (Sympetrum sanguineum) had appeared at the scrape there yet. I saw one mature male and several immatures - but only one of the immatures would allow close approach for photos!
Also present among the reeds were several Emerald Damselflies (Lestes sponsa) including this immature female.

If further new species found during June come to light I'll add them later.
July should see the rest of the regular species start to appear....