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)

Thursday, 11 September 2014

Two Hawkers at Ditchford

I returned to Ditchford hoping to get some more mating shots of Migrant Hawkers. The weather wasn't quite so good and the numbers were markedly down on Monday, but there were still 30 or so flying. No mating shots, but a few good head-on shots, such as this one where the hawker is cleaning his eyes from cobwebs etc. after searching among the reeds for a female. On my way out, I encountered this Southern Hawker flying around the meadow close to the water. He actually took up a territorial position over the water alongside the Migrants. Southern Hawkers don't breed at Ditchford, but appear occasionally, but I have never seen one take up territory before.

Southern Hawker

Migrant Hawker


Monday, 8 September 2014

Migrant Hawkers galore

Ditchford is my favourite site for Migrant Hawkers because there are so many around and you can get quite close to them. This lunchtime, there were in excess of 100 adults around, including at least 6 mating pairs. There was so  much activity that the pairs weren't staying still for too long. It's great to watch the males fighting over territory and cleaning their wings and feet from cobwebs. A Brown Hawker flew past, and a couple of Common Blues and Common Darters were also present.

Sunday, 7 September 2014

Titchmarsh Nature Reserve

It's been a long time since I visited Titchmarsh, so I decided to call in this afternoon. Our first sighting was a female Common Darter on the footpath just passed the carpark. We turned left through the gate to head towards the River. Several Migrant Hawkers were buzzing around the bur-reeds on the river margins, and I caught sight of a couple of mating pairs. While watching and photographing the hovering males, about 10 male and 1 female Banded Demoiselle appeared. The female was part of a mating pair, but I thought something was unusual, as the male wasn't a Banded. It turned out that a male Common Blue Damselfly had grasped the female Banded. The pairing didn't last long enough to record though. Many more Hawkers and Common Darters were around, although I didn't see any Male Darters. On  the return, I found a male Ruddy Darter and a male Common Blue that was only a few days old, as he hadn't gained the full blue colouration yet. September seems a rather late date to emerge for a Common Blue.

Migrant Hawker

Female Common Darter

Male Ruddy Darter

Male Banded Demoiselle

Immature male Common Blue Damselfly

Female Common Darter