I have been searching for the first signs of some Hairy Dragonfly emergence over the last week and was hopeful today of finding some exuviae, but found none. There was however some teneral damseflies in the margins and most appeared to be Azure Damsefly. While checking out some potential emergence supports I came across a moth called The Spectacle. When looked at head on it’s obvious how it gets its name, the antennae also create a nice Jimmy Edwards style handlebar moustache.
Archive for the 'Dragonflies' Category
Highlights over the past few days have included, 1500 Golden Plover and 700 Lapwing roosting on Flat Beach and the new saltmarsh area, a Merlin has been regular along Shore Ridges along with a flock of around 25 Greenfinch, less expected were 6 Brambling which passed overhead near the Red Roofed Hut, up to 18 Little Grebes are split between Ternery Pool (they can give very close views infront of Crittall Hide), Quarry and Harbour Farm Pools. At Castle Water highlights have been Barn Owl, Kingfisher, Marsh Harrier, 3 Ruff, 135 Teal, 200 Wigeon and 11 Fieldfare. Several Migrant Hawker have still be active during warm sunny periods along with a few Red Admiral and Small Tortoiseshell.
UPDATE – a late Swallow flew eastward along the shore today and a late Wheatear near River Mouth on 16th.
Little Grebe from Crittall Hide at Ternery Pool
Highlights today included two Buzzards soaring low over the hide, 2 Green Sandpiper and 50 Wigeon. Dragonflies on the wing along the footpath to the hide included Brown Hawker, Southern Hawker and several Migrant Hawker.
Spent a pleasant hour by the lake at Moneypenny (East Guldeford) yesterday morning searching for possible Willow Emerald damselflies (Lestes viridis). This is a very recent marginal colonist from the Continent, now present at Strumpshaw Fen RSPB in Norfolk and at several sites in Suffolk. There’s a small colony in north Kent but I don’t know of any yet in Sussex. It’s a very late damselfly, quite robust, with a long green abdomen. A bit of a long shot! But a dozen or more Migrant Hawkers (Aeshna mixta) were swarming round the reeds and willows, and here’s a photo of one. There were similar numbers of Common Darters and a glimpse of a very late blue damsel of some sort. Meanwhile a couple of Common Buzzards were circling low over the trees – I’ve seen several over the levels recently in such unexpected surroundings.
This afternoon I found 2 mating and ovipositing pairs, plus further adults, of Small Red-eyed Damselflies (Erythromma viridulum) on thick mats of bright green algae on the Military Canal NE of Appledore in grid square TQ9630. There’s currently a lot of this algae on at least that stretch of the Canal, and a full survey could be instructive. It might well be worth looking elsewhere too, e.g. along the back of Pett Level where I’ve found them in the past. The habitat and late date are typical for this recent colonist, and the cherry-red eyes are very obvious.
There has not been much insect news from here of late. I don’t know if others feel the same but it seems that hoverflies, dragonflies and butterflies seem to have been rather thin on the ground this year. Anyway, highlights from Castle Water recently have been 50+ Migrant Hawker (probably due to an influx), several Ruddy Darter, very small number of Common Darter, Emperor and a Southern Hawker. Butterflies on the wing have included Small Copper, Painted lady, Red Admiral and Meadow Brown.
Several Emperor dragonflies covered in dew and at stage four of emergence was a nice find early this morning, 20 exuviae in total were found. This species starts to emerge soon after sunset and continues during the night untill dawn, so its always nice to find a few still clinging to their exuvia. The individual pictured below took its maiden flight shortly after the picture was taken after a bout of wing-whirring to warm up the flight muscels. Also of interest was my first Scaeva pyrastri of the year. This conspicuous hoverfly is a migrant and numbers fluctuate from year to year, last summer it was abundent around the reserve and local area.
Female Emperor preparing for its maiden flight at Castle Water this morning.
While out on the weekly butterfly/dragonfly transect this afternoon I came across several weird looking flies on a gate post. They are called Medetera diadema and belong to the dolichopodidae, also called ‘long-legged flies’ or more often ‘dolis’ by enthusiasts. They are generally small flies with a metallic green colouration and are predatory on other invertebrates (the larvae are either predators or scavengers in aquatic or terrestrial habitats). Truth be told they are a group that I know very little about, with this being one of only two species I can identify with any confidence. They are striking looking flies though, with this genus in particular looking very alien indeed.
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A fine selection of Black-tailed Skimmer in various states of emergence and in close proximity to each other was a nice find this morning at Castle Water. The stiff breeze had caused several to get dislodged from their chosen emergence support but fortunately they where far enough through the process to crawl up again. A selection of pics are below.
At the resting stage. This one was later blown from the emergence support but managed to survive by crawling back up to complete the wing expansion.