Saturday, 27 September 2014

Southern Hawker frenzy and other updates

As September draws to a close, there are still a few species out there to see.

On 21 September, Stuart Page saw a female Black-tailed Skimmer at the western Ditchford Lakes. This is a great late date, probably the latest in the County. David Warner was also out and about and saw a Blue-tailed Damselfly at Kislingbury gravel pits, along with the usual late summer species.

I took a walk to the Whitestones Ponds at Twywell at lunchtime on 22 September. The three ponds are pretty much dried out, with only a little water left in the Broad-bodied Chaser pond. I only saw a single old female Ruddy Darter. This is in stark contrast to this time last year when there were plenty still around, and several Southern Hawkers too.

On 23 September, at Ditchford, in among the Migrants and Common Darters, I saw a single Common Blue Damselfly.

On 26 September, I saw ~40+ Common Darters including ovipositing pairs, ~30 Migrant Hawkers and 1 Brown Hawker at Burton Latimer Pocket Park.

The Big Pit pond at Fermyn Woods is a great site to see Southern Hawkers at this time of year. I popped down there today (28 Sept) as it was a reasonable afternoon. The pond was buzzing with around 12 males, many clashing when their territories crossed. Standing on one of the fishing stands, one male kept circling me looking for females - unsuccessfully at least while I was there, and several clashes occurred. One particular male had a damaged leg that didn't retract correctly and it was interesting to use this as an identification feature during the clashes. I heard several sets of rustling wings in the reeds, but was never too sure whether these were from ovipositing females or fighting males. Only 2 Common Darters put in an appearance.

That makes a total of 7 species in the last full week of September - not bad!

Female Ruddy Darter at Twywell Hills and Dales

Male Common Darter at Fermyn Woods

Males Common Darter at Fermyn Woods

Male Southern Hawker, Big Pit Pond at Fermyn Woods

Southern Hawker

Southern Hawker

Southern Hawker (with damaged leg)