Wednesday, 28 September 2016

2 Willow Emeralds at Finedon

I have visited Finedon Pocket Park at least weekly since finding the Willow Emerald, without further sightings. Today, I found two! The first one appeared from the willows in the pond, and flew to rest on some nettles just outside the high-water margin. It was hassled by a Common Darter and soon flew off into the trees. The second flew into a hawthorn tree at the other end of the pond, where I lost it, frustrating but exciting that they are still here and there are more than I originally found. The first one was a male, but I couldn't see what the second was - hopefully a female. I searched the willows looking for the characteristic oviposiitng scars, but found none. I have not seen any damselflies or Emeralds here for over 1 month, so finding Willow Emeralds could be that little easier as they can't get lost among other damsels. The usual Common Darters were present, along with Migrant Hawkers, both male and ovipositing females. I tracked a female Southern Hawker until she landed on a log of wood (placed there by me earlier in the season to attract ovipositing females!) and began to egg-lay. She moved on to lay in an old submerged pallet, moss, dried mud and rocks around the water, enabling my first successful shots of this species egg-laying.

Trisha Thompson reports at least 4 Willow Emeralds at Boardwalks Nature Reserve, where the first vice county record was made just over 1 month ago.

Please visit this site at Finedon, sandwiched between the cricket ground and cemetary on Bell Hill - the back road from Finedon into Burton Latimer and look for more Willow Emeralds as I am sure there are more about.

Sunday, 18 September 2016

Southern Hawkers at Fermyn Woods

We took a walk around Fermyn Woods, and stopped off at the Reedy and Big Pit Ponds. Both had good numbers of Southern Hawkers in residence, with 12 at the Big Pit an 4 at the Reedy. Also present were many Common Darters and a few Ruddy Darters. The Big Pit Pond is a great place to see Southern Hawkers buzzing around the fishing stands, which are unfortunately made from plastic so are no good for ovipositing.

Mating Common Darters

Southern Hawker

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

No more willow Emeralds yet

I've been out searching all the Willow trees I can find over water, without finding anymore Willow Emeralds. Mind you, it is like finding a green needle in green haystack! Along the way, hundreds of Migrants are flying, along with Common and Ruddy Darters and still plenty of Brown  and Southern Hawkers. I even found a Banded Demoiselle at Irthlingborough but not other damselflies.

Mating Brown Hawkers at Finedon Pocket Park

Common Darter at Ditchford

Migrant Hawker at Ditchford

Thursday, 8 September 2016

Willow Emerald Damselfly at Finedon Pocket Park

I intended to hunt for Southern Hawkers when I visited Finedon Pocket Park on Wed, but instead ended up finding a Willow Emerald Damselfly. Having watched the Peterborough individual for over 1 hour, I was accustomed to some aspects of their behaviour. When I saw an Emerald Damselfly behaving differently, flying among some Willows growing out of the water, my interest was stimulated. ID was confirmed by zooming in on my photos. If you are not familiar with this species, it differs from the standard Emerald in three basic ways (in males): the pterostigma are pale, bordered with dark, whereas the Emerald has dark pterostigma; the male lacks the blue pruinescence; the male's claspers are much exagerated. There were Emeralds around, along with many Common and Ruddy Darters including ovipositing pairs. I did find two male Southern Hawkers, ovipositing Emperor and Brown Hawkers and some Azure Damselflies.

The sighting of Willow Emeralds in Northants is very exciting for us as they are about the most westerly ever recorded. I am sure there are many more out there, so please keep an eye out on Willow trees overhanging water. Their flight period lasts until November so we still have time to find more. Good hunting and please let me know if you find some - ideally females and ovipositing pairs, or even the characteristic egg scars in Willow branches.

Common Darter

Male Willow Emerald Damselfly

Ovipositing Brown Hawker (one of my favourite shots this year!)

Thursday, 1 September 2016

Masses of Migrants

I really enjoy this time of year because of the sheer number of Migrant Hawkers around. Today at Ditchford, there must have been 100+ buzzing around the margins, with several pairs in-cop and ovipositing. They are very territorial and clash quite readily where territories cross. Their habit of hovering makes in-flight shots fairly easy. Also seen were Brown Hawkers, Common and Ruddy Darters and Common Blue Damselflies.

The Willow Emerald is still present at Boardwalks Nature Reserve in Turkey according to Trisha Thompson. I visited with Trisha last Friday and managed to find it after about 1 hour of hunting. During my visit, I also recorded Southern Hawker, Brown Hawker, Migrant Hawker, Ruddy Darter, Common Darter, Blue-tailed and Common Blue Damselflies. Interestingly no normal Emeralds, although Trisha confirmed they are present on some of the ponds. I understand another Willow Emerald has been recorded at Kings Dyke in Peterborough, so there is clear a few in the area. Where else I wonder?

Ruddy Darter at Ditchford

Common Darter at Boardwalks LNR

Migrant Hawker cleaning itself from cobwebs

Migrant Hawker

Migrant Hawker