Sunday, 16 June 2019

Yardley Chase field trip

This year's field trip to Yardley Chase came at the ed of a solid week of rain and suffered a little from the aftermath. The morning started off sunny but soon clouded over with the occasional burst of sun. Downy Emeralds are OK with this weather and in fact, it kept the Four-spotted Chasers away and gave the male Downys free reign over the best territories with minimal interaction with the Chasers.

Another highlight was finding an emerging Southern Hawker, which was very close to an emerging Four-spot that we found, bu we either missed the Hawker or she came out while we weren't looking. A couple of Emperors including an egg-laying female and the usual smattering of Damsels completed the day.

Male Downy Emerald

Emerging female Southern Hawker

Tuesday, 4 June 2019

Black-tailed Skimmers return to Ditchford Lakes & Meadows

Ditchford Lakes & Meadows Wildlife Trust Reserve is one of my long-term regular monitoring sites. I used to find many emerging Black-tailed Skimmers and exuviae, but since 2011, it has effectively disappeared with only single adults recorded every so often. During my lunchtime walk on 3 June, I found several emerging adults and a few more exuviae. This is great news, but I can't explain why they disappeared or why they have suddenly returned. The site hasn't changed much in the past 8 years, in fact if anything it has probably become less like a typical BtS site than it was before. Perhaps they have adapted to breed in more overgrown habitats with few of the traditional male habitat requirements? Whatever, its great news for the site.

I also saw an immature Scarce Chaser, which following increasing records of this species in the area over the last few years suggests they have taken to breeding locally.

Many Hairy Dragonflies, an Emperor (and lots of exuviae) and loads for Four-spots were among the usual damselflies.

Tandem and male Red-eyed Damselflies sharing their territory

Recently emerged Four-spotted Chaser

Emerging Black-tailed Skimmer

Sunday, 26 May 2019

Variable Damselflies

James Underwood reported finding a colony of Variable Damselflies at Wicksteed Park on 20 May, posting photo of males and mating pairs on our facebook group. The colony appears to be well established, but very localised on the fishing lake at the back of the park. I visited the following day, which was quite breezy and managed to find several males and ovipositing pairs on the lily pad leaves.

James also found a male Variable at Barnwell CP, and I found more at Weldon, confirming that last year's adults successfully bred there. Keep your eyes peeled, and inspect all of those Variables you see just in case.

The Willow Emerald pond at Finedon is all but dried up now, and all of the egg scars appear to have hatched. I don't know what impact this will have on the larvae, so we'll have to wait until late July - August to see what happens. Let's hope we get some good rain in the coming week. Despite that, I found several Broad-bodied Chasers buzzing around the pond including an ovipositing female, and this obliging maturing male on the ride. You may recognise the sapling he s perched on because I shot a Common Darter on the same one last Autumn.

On the Nene, Scarce Chasers are doing well, with many more emerging at Lilford and Waddenhoe - my two constant study sites. A report by Andy Gardner showed photos of immatures Scarce Chasers on the Nene parallel with the A45 at Irthlingborough Lakes. This is the first time that immatures have been seen here and implies successful breeding. Great to see that they are still inching their way towards Northampton.

Female Scarce Chaser just before her maiden flight, Lilford

Male Variable Damselfly attempting to mate with a female, Wicksteed Park

Male Variable Damselfly, Wicksteed Park

Ovipositing pair of Variables (right), Wicksteed Park

Maturing male Broad-bodied Chaser, Finedon Pocket Park

Saturday, 18 May 2019

Three new species in mid May

Quite a week this week, as the weather got better with three new species seen around the County.

Four Scarce Chasers were seen by James Underwood at Barnwell Country Park, along with many Banded Demoiselles, Hairys and the usual damselflies. My early morning trip to the Nene on the 14th failed to find any emerging Chasers, and as it happens I was one day out. I returned on 6th and found three Scarce Chaser exuviae and 1 just about to emerge as I had to leave for work.

James has been very lucky this year with his first sightings, and to add to his record, he photographed White-legged Damselflies on the brook at Weldon. This is about 2 weeks earlier than normal.

I picked up a photo on the Northamptonshire Nature facebook page of an immature male Beautiful Demoiselle, seen near Duston in Northampton. Time to check the Brampton Valley Way next week.

I photographed Large Reds emerging many times, but this I have struggled to find any. However, I haven't before photographed another damselfly until this week, when I found this Azure just about to hatch.  

A quick walk along the Nene by Thrapston Sailing Club showed 2 Scarce Chasers, including the male shown below which has already lost part of his wing and numerous Banded Demoiselles and Red-eyed Damselflies.

Male Scarce Chaser at Thrapston

Monday, 13 May 2019

Broad-bodied Chasers

A photo was posted on our facebook group by Ricky Sinfield, of a Broad-bodied Chaser at Summer Leys on 12 May, and then Roland saw one at Barnwell and I found a freshly emerged adult at Finedon, along with 3 exuviae. In all my years visiting Finedon, I have never found exuviae there before today.

Sunday, 12 May 2019

Hairy Dragonfly Emerging

I was surprised about how little action there was today, considering the break in the weather. I hunted around and came across this female Hairy Dragonfly settled in place to emerge. The whole event took around 2.5 hours and it was great to watch in the warm sun.

On the way out, I came across this newly emerged Four-spotted Chaser, which is the first of the year.

Saturday, 11 May 2019

A walk around Kinewell Lake

The spell of wet and windy weather is now over and as we move into high pressure we took a walk around Kinewell Lake in Ringstead. The sunshine allowed >500 Common Blue, Red-eyed and Blue-tailed Damselflies to bask in its warmth, along with around 10 Banded Demoiselle. I found a male Hairy Dragonfly close to the river, with his wings still closed. Thanks to Graham Bentley, a Northants dragonfly enthusiast we know that this species takes its first flight and then lands up and closes its wings again, presumably to avoid predation. My first Azure Damselfly completed the set of 5 species.

Immature male Red-eyed Damselfly

Immature female Azure Damselfly

Immature female Common Blue Damselfly

Close-up of the above Common Blue

Thursday, 2 May 2019

Actually 6 Species in April

I received an email from John Windust. who saw and photographed Common Blue Damselflies at Stanwick Lakes on 30 April, at around the same time I saw a couple at Ditchford Lakes. That makes 6 species for April.

Elsewhere, Common Blues and Hairys have been reported from Summer Leys and Banded Demoiselles from the Nene at Kinewell Lake in Ringstead.

Here are a couple of Female Hairy Dragonflies that I found emerging at Ditchford. on 30 April.

Monday, 29 April 2019

5 Species in April

A Hairy Dragonfly was photographed at Summer Leys on 24 April, and more Banded Demoiselles were seen in the area.

I went to Yardley Chase on Sunday and found 3 emerging Hairys, but no sign of any Large Reds, which are normally seen here around now even in a normal year.

At Ditchford, I found 5 Hairy exuviae and one flying female, who promptly landed close to some nettles, so I got well stung getting the shot below. A couple of female Red-eyed Damselflies had emerged and took their first flights along with a female Blue-tailed Damselfly. Large Reds don't breed at Ditchford.

So that makes a total of 5 species so far for April, which has only been seen before in 2014. With one day to go we may yet exceed this - Common Blue Damselflies perhaps?

Female Violacea Blue-tailed Damselfly

Female Hairy Dragonfly

Female Red-eyed Damselfly

Female Red-eyed Damselfly

Female Red-eyed Damselfly

Tuesday, 23 April 2019

Early Banded Demoiselles

I popped up to Weldon to see my first Large Reds and found 3 in total. I bumped into James Underwood who'd already found a female Banded Demoiselle and we went to relocate it.

I don't recall a time when Demoisellse were #2 recorded species in Northants and I wonder whether this is a quirk of this site or indicates they are appearing elsewhere and that other species are to be found too. 

Male Large Red Damselfly

Female Banded Demoiselle and lunch

Sunday, 21 April 2019

2019 seasons gets off to a sunny start

Large Reds are appearing in good numbers at several sites over this Easter weekend, with adults seen at Weldon & Priors Hall by James Underwood and Carey Fields, Northampton by Darryl Sutcliffe - see Darryl's photo below.

Female Large Red Damselfly at Carey Fields by Darryl Sutcliffe

Sunday, 9 December 2018

December Darter

James Underwood posted a photo of a Common Darter near Weldon seen on 9 Dec, which makes it the first December Darter recorded in Northants.

Monday, 19 November 2018

Willow Emerald egg scars at Barnwell Country Park

Judy & Terry Wood saw a few Darters at Barnwell over the weekend and also found these Willow Emerald egg scars close to where James Underwood found adults earlier in October. As autumn leads to winter, the loss of leaves should reveal more hidden egg scars so it is worth keeping an eye out just in case.

Tuesday, 13 November 2018

Darters on Posts

We still have strong numbers of Common Darters around the County, with records from Woodford, Wilson's Pits, Stanwick Lakes, Weldon and Summer Leys to name a few. At Summer Leys today, I counted 40+ basking on the fence posts around the car park. If you scale this up for the whole reserve, there could be several hundred left.