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Saturday, 30 June 2012

Monkwood and Grimley..29th June

Today myself and JK took the road to Monkwood Nature Reserve, jointly owned by Butterfly Conservation and Worcestershire Wildlife Trust. I was hoping to see my first White Admiral, and generally get the lie of the land there. With JK and his 'mobile library' safely on board we headed a few miles down the road.
It was a pretty breezy day, not exactly ideal for the inverts to come out to play, but on the plus side it proved to keep the ones that like to bite chunks out of you down to a minimum. After application of large amounts of DEET, we ventured off into the wood. A Ringlet was soon noted, which was at least encouraging that there may be something on the wing, assuming it had survived the storm of the previous day.
As it happened, within a few more yards JK spotted a resting White Admiral, which hung around just long enough for a nice look, and a quick record shot. In the bag ! so we turned around and went home.
White Admiral
Of course we didn't ! Moving on, we noted Speckled Wood, Meadow Brown and Large Skippers too. There were also several Silver Y moths flitting about, which was another lifer for me, but they are such restless critters, a picture proved impossible today.
However a moth was then spotted that neither myself nor JK could put a name to off the top of our heads, although we recognised its markings. I tried for a while, without success to get a record shot before a second specimen appeared that was both less worn and more sedate. It was an absolute stunner. When we eventually reurned to the car later on, the 'mobile library' was visited and it's identity revealed as Blood-vein Moth
Blood-vein Moth
Over the next couple of hours we visited the Pools in the wood ( to see what Dragonflies were about ) and the 'Green' down the lane hoping to see Marbled White butterflies.
There were 2 main highlights at the Pool. One was watching a couple of male Broad Bodied Chaser's zipping aound, presumably contesting the favours of the single female. A year first was also encountered in the form of a Teneral Common Darter.
I have had a great year with the Dragonflies this year, having also observed my first Emperor of the year 24 hours earlier, a male at Hill ditch.
At the 'Green' I added two Burnet moths, Six Spot and Narrow Bordered Five Spot to my year list but the breez and light rain prevented further pics.
After drinks and a cob, we relocated to Grimley New Workings. Within a couple of minutes I had a surprise second encounter with Red-veined Darter , which I had previously seen and photographed on the 4th June
Hobby turned up and gave a great display and excellent views for a few best birding moment for several weeks !
There had been a decent emergence of both Black- tailed Skimmers and Common Darters on the site, and I was somewhat taken with the rufescens Blue-tailed Damselflies but again conditions would not allow a pic.
A great day out, with some real quality species encountered..I'll leave a shot of Red-veined Darter from my earlier encounter to finish.
Red-Veined Darter, Grimley, 4th June 2012

Thursday, 28 June 2012

Butterfly Firsts On The Patch Return..and a not so 'common' Grasshopper

Having taken a small vacation, I was keen to get back out in the field. I decided to stay close to home today and cover the east and west sides of my patch. So in the morning I spent a couple of hours wandering the set aside on the East side. Initially it was all a bit lifeless, despite being a humid 19°c. My first discovery was flushing a Yellow Shell Moth. This was a Patch first and it shot onto the underside of a branch, forcing me to wade through the nettles to ID  it and cobble some sort of record shot.
Yellow Shell Moth

There was no shortage of  Micro moth activity, but they were all fairly non descript and flighty, until I spied upon one  I had seen a few days before, a distinctive brown moth with 2 yellow spots, Pammene aurana. Unfortunately I only saw it long enough to ID it. As it brightened, a Speckled Wood danced around, I find this species often show in less than perfect weather. I detoured slightly off the path to walk through the long grass and suddenly noticed a lot of Butterfly activity. Surveying with my bins I saw 3 distinct species, and was fairly certain they were all new to the year, and 2 were new to my patch.
Firstly I homed in on a  Large Skipper, of which there were 3.

Large Skipper (male)
Then one of the second newbies eventually settled to confirm what I suspected, Ringlets, a good dozen

Finally, after being lead a merry dance, I managed to confirm and get a snap of my first Meadow Brown of the year.
Meadow Brown (male)
This was turning into an excellent session ! On the birding front, Kestrel, Raven, Yellowhammer and Chiffchaff stood out.
After a bit of lunch I returned to walk the West side. Here there were better numbers of large Skipper, and handfull of Ringlets. The heath area obviously had good numbers of Grasshopper's as they chirped away. I photographed this Common Green Grasshopper. I have since learn't from JK these are not common place in VC37 and will submitting my sighting to the Worcestershire Biological Records Centre

Common Green Grasshopper

 The other significant finding was the presence of Banded Demoiselles, which I had not previously seen there although in much smaller numbers than the Beautiful Demoiselles.

Banded Demoiselle (male)

Finally a pleasing return to the patch was rounded off with a nice Spotted Long Horn Beetle ( it has other names, but I like that one )

Spotted Longhorn Beetle  (rutpela maculata)

Monday, 18 June 2012

As the rain clears

Reed Warbler
 With the birding in Doorstepshire a bit quiet I had a few species pencilled in for the weekend, and despite the less than helpful weather, I have come across  a few goodies over the last few days. Firstly, actually on the birding front, I enjoyed watching, and listening to the Reed Warblers at Upton Warren Sunday, from the screens on the North Moors. With a bit of patience one lingered just long enough for a picture.I then popped along to see some Bee Orchids, which seem to have done well this year

Bee Orchid

In the Eddy I came across a large emergence of Cinnabar Moth Caterpillars, and found a new moth for my ever expanding list, a Dingy Shell. The picture was rubbish however, due to shower number 2.
Also on the wing were Small White Speckled Wood, Red Admiral and a Large Skipper as well as Large Red Damselfly. The Skipper was a year first for me, but was only seen briefly through my bins.

The next day I wanted to try and connect with 3 new species of Odonata. Firstly I headed to Grimley for a shufty. I simply could not linger there, as the midges were doing my head in, but fortunately what I had hoped to see was away from the worst of them. I only connected with one, but the Black-tailed Skimmers are worth a few minutes of anyone's time in my book, and I will return to try and see a mature male in the coming weeks.
Black-tailed Skimmer
As I was putting my stuff back in the car, I had a surprise close encounter with a Brown Hare, coming within just a few feet of me. I have some video here. Whilst watching the fellow, a Cuckoo called.

Brown Hare

And so it was back up the road to Hartlebury, where JK had called me from to say that both Scarce Chaser and Red Eyed Damselfly were showing. A couple of days earlier we had spent a fruitless and damp hour looking for them there, but the sun was working its magic.

Red-eyed Damselfly

Scarce Chaser
There was no hiding today !

Sunday, 17 June 2012

Pearl Bordered Fritillary..Ammendment

Pearl Bordered Fritillary

When I re visited my pictures of last Saturday, and took time out with my field guides, I realised the first butterfly I had seen was in fact a slightly worn PBF. Hopefully next year I will connect with more, as well as the Skippers.

Small Pearl Bordered Fritillary

Sunday, 10 June 2012

Meadow heaven..Golden ringed Dragonfly and moth lifers galore. Saturday 9th June

I was determined today to catch up with the Pearl Bordered Fritillary species ( Small and Regular ), if the weather would allow. I was seriously worried I was in danger of missing some of the Skippers and Fritillaries this year, so I headed first to the rocket test facillity on the Shropshire side of the Wyre. The Sun barely made an appearance during my circuit,which I started around 10.30am and the breeze  was hardly butterfly friendly. However, on the first ride I connected with my one and only Pearl Bordered Fritillary species of the walk. However I could not discern if it was PBF or SPBF initially ( see post above )
There were plenty of bouncing  as Nemophora degeerella as I made my way around, but I only encountered one other butterfly , albeit a year tick in my first Red Admiral of the year.

 Nemophora degeerella

Birdwise, Balckcaps, Chiffys and Willow Warblers were about, as well as a Garden Warbler.
I then crossed back over the river and headed to the Uncllys area of the Wyre. The birding highlight here was a pair of Great Spotted Woodpeckers tending a nest. I saw 3 Speckled Yellow moths, but they are lively so and so's and a picture still eludes me.
My final port of call was a meadow area near the brook. As I approached it, around 2pm, there was a hint of sun, and I wandered if I might lucky with a few moths I had had been hoping to see.
On entering the meadow, I narrowly avoided treading on a frog, but immediately saw there was indeed a good emergence of Chimney Sweeper moths..excellent !

Chimney Sweeper Moth

Then a yellow moth caught my eye on the wing but when it settled it was not the expected Speckled yellow, but rather a nice Yellow Shell !

Yellow Shell Moth

Things continued in a good vein with a Burnett Companion showing well before the increasing temperature brought out a the butterflies.

 Small Copper, Common Blue and then a handful of Small Pearl Bordered Fritillaries appeared. I was in heaven snapping away as best  could. One even landed on a Spotted Orchid

Small Pearl Bordered Fritillary on Common Spotted Orchid

 I then clocked a Dragonfly sneaking into the meadow, quite large, and settle about 50 yards away. I got a rough fix and circled round to where I thought it was..luckily it was settled near an open area, so I approached with care until I could get a look. In my binoculars I was expecting to see maybe a Club tail, as they enter the forest to mature. However as I studied it I recognised it as a Golden ringed Dragonfly ..what a result ! Fortunately it was totally settled and I managed to get a few snaps, then studied it for a few more minutes before leaving it to enjoy the sunshine. What a bonanza of nature after a slow few hours ! Just goes to show the magic of a bit of sun

Golden ringed Dragonfly..what a beast !!

More pics added regularly on my Flickr

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Dragonfly Mega .. Red-veined Darter !... Odonata Bonanza Monday part 2

I was feeling most satisfied Monday afternoon, with Club-tailed Dragonfly added to my list that morning. Having slipped around the river bank for 3 hours, I was planning a leisurely hour checking out the Inverts on my local patch that afternoon.
As I headed out I received a text informing me a pretty rare dragonfly had been seen at one of my regular Doorstep haunts down at Grimley..intrigued, I drove straight past my patch pull in , and arrived at Grimley less than 20 minutes later.

The site was empty of folks, but in the warm afternoon sun, chuffing with Invertebrates, especially the buzzy bitey kind...after 10 minutes I returned to the car to apply extra strength repellent or risk being eaten alive.
I was soon snapping Common Blue, Blue-tailed and White-legged damselflies, and was fairly certain there were Four Spotted Chasers chasing about, but they were lively !

Blue-tailed Damselfly

Common Blue Damselfly

 What I had come to see though was Red of Body, and wing vein, and something red landed on the causeway a few feet ahead. Raising my bins the red lines in the wing were evident..this was indeed looking like Red-veined Darter !!

I eventually managed some shots, which I hoped were good enough for me to study at home, as I was far from familiar with this species. Having gotten what I could, I had a crack at the Quad Spots.

Four Spotted Chaser

Thankfully the pics came out, helping me to study this unfamiliar species. A probable influx of immigrants finding their way to this site for the first time since 2006..many thanks to Brian Stretch for finding them. Brilliant.
Red-veined Darter

Dragonfly Bonanza Part 1 ..Club-tailed Quest (again)

I started Bank Holiday Monday back where I had been 2 days previously. Unfortunately on Saturday I had not left the car, as the weather had closed in on arrival and I gave up my Gomphus quest for Club -tailed Dragonfly before it began. At 9am Monday though I was walking down to the River Severn near Blackstone. For the next 2 hours I searched, coming across good numbers of Banded and Beautiful Demoiselles, some of the former mating. I was pleased to find several immature White Legged Damselflies of the female lactea phase, as well as a  couple of stonking Drinker Moth Caterpillar's

Drinker Moth Caterpillar
White-legged Damselfly (f. Lactea phase)

After a couple of hours of checking the vegetation along the River bank I was starting to think I was going to luck out, but then I saw something wizz away and down one of the paths that descend to a fishermans jetty. Down at water level I panned the bank side vegetation and there it was, not easy to get a clear view , but definitely a Club-tailed Dragonfly !
Club-tailed Dragonfly
A record shot was all I could manage without risking an unwelcome swim, but I was very satisfied to have found what can be a difficult species to get under your belt. I thought that would be it for my Dragonfly adventures that day, but more was unexpectedly to come........

Sunday, 3 June 2012

Bank Holiday Azure's

I don't know about drought, it seems the mere mention of a Bank Holiday opens the heavens in Doorstepshire of late. Dreams of Fritillaries , Club Tails and Skippers were washed away early doors on Saturday. By the afternoon I was climbing the wall, so decided to head to Upton Warren as there was at least a Mediterranean Gull present, and I had not seen one since last year. So I went, and I saw it, nice Adult, bossing an island on the Moors. At least the rain had stopped so I walked round the reserve just in case something interesting ( Avian or Invertebrate) showed itself.
After much scrutiny I picked up a Micro Moth, Celypha lacunana, kindly ID'd by Patrick C. It was a start, and something new. There were no Demoiselles, or Large Reds on the wing, and I was heading back when I noticed a small movement on the vegetation..A blue coloured Damselfly ! In fact there were 3, one pretty teneral. I had it as Common Blue, or possibly Azure, the latter would be a lifer..I could not remember the subtle differences off the top of my head, but eventually managed a few snaps. With these in the bag I headed home to see what I had.
Once home  3 key characteristics on the Damselfly pics confirmed them as Azure Damselfly. This was very satisfying, having nearly stayed home, and certainly unexpected given the weather I was searching in.
Azure Damselfly

I decided to have a lie in for a change Sunday, given the weather was pants again. Eventually my mobile woke me with news of a Wood Sandpiper at the Flashes at Upton. Whilst not a lifer, there was a chance for good views of what is a very smart wader, and again a species I had not seen for a year. And it did show well, albeit in persistent drizzle that made the camera appearance fairly brief as it was blowing into the hide. Still, a nice bird. I just hope the second half of the Bank Holiday weekend lends itself better to outdoor exploration ......
Wood Sandpiper