Monday, 8 July 2013

An orgy of damselflies (and other insects)

It appears that summer has finally arrived and at last an opportunity to fulfil an ambition to do nothing but sit on the patio . Whilst 2 friends and others drove fruitlessly up and down the A19 in Tee-side in pursuit of an ephemeral Bridled Tern I relaxed on the sun loungers feeling mildly smug I had seen 2 in the UK and wasn't  a participant in this birders version of the Wacky Races. In mid-summer the rookery is deserted during the day but there was plenty of other bird activity. A Hobby circled overhead and the young Marsh Harriers were making trial flights above the marshes, elegant in flight but then ruining the effect by crash-landing in the reeds. A Marsh Tit was visiting the bird feeders and a Little Egret flew distantly by.
On an earlier walk checking the sheep I had come across a brood of well grown Shoveler ducklings in one of the dykes. The youngsters snuck off quietly up one dyke whilst their mother flapped around on the water in front of me in a classic distraction display. She led me a long way down a different dyke before finally taking to the air and taking a long circular flight back towards her brood. A Yellow Wagtail also flew over calling.
The marshes are looking particularly lush at the moment. The reeds and sedges have grown up to line the dyke margins and the Water Soldiers have risen to the surface in places almost obscuring the water.
In the Broads where you get Water Soldiers you get Norfolk Hawkers and our dykes are no exception. In the weekends warm weather there were plenty about patrolling many of the dykes and even coming into the garden.

In the evening we had a birding friend round for a barbecue so it was another excuse to laze on the patio and watch what flew by, in this case, Little Owl and Turtle Dove.
On Sunday morning we concentrated on looking at damselflies and dragonflies and improving my damselfly identification skills. The population of damselflies had erupted in the hot weather and they seemed to be everywhere, not just in the dykes but also in the long grass bordering the dykes. In places large numbers of coupled pairs were ovipositing on the water often in apparent synchrony.

Of the blue damselflies we found Azure and Variable, of which the latter were by far the commonest.


Four-spotted Chasers were also common, 2 Hairy Dragonflies were late and we also found single Emerald Damselflies and Ruddy Darter.
Some new marsh residents found us particularly interesting too and were our constant companions as we walked the dykes around their field!

As we returned off the marshes I looked up for once at an opportune moment just as a Red Kite flew over and later in the evening a whickering call alerted me to a Whimbrel passing by.
The moth trap went out again last night and made a reasonable haul. The highlight is probably this unassuming moth, a Water Ermine, a scarce and local species.

Other more spectacular albeit commoner moths were these: Buff-tip

Garden Tiger:
Peppered Moth:
Elephant Hawk Moth: