Friday, 17 October 2014

Fun in the Sun

Hot and Sunny this morning, so couldn't resist taking probably the last look around Far Pasture for dragonflies this year.
Just a few common darters on the approach road but 3 ovipositing pairs in the flash pool over the fence. Just my luck as the sun disappeared so I went for a look in the hide. A semi-decapitated dead rat outside the hide door was quite an unpleasant sight, and the Jack Snipe watchers inside only had negative news, though apparently up to four have been sighted now. Common Snipes were enjoying the sunshine though, with 31 counted when something put them all up in the air.

Star birds today were the Water Rails. Three showing really well, including one which swam across the pond. Great birds these, and a treat to have such good views so I hung around a while after the sun reappeared, as did several common darters, singles and pairs, but I could only cringe as the nearest water rail went dragonhunting himself and snapped a few up, sometimes leaping in the air to do so. Maybe I don't like them so much after all :-(

Nasty Water Rail finishing off a Common Darter

A Southern and a Migrant Hawker (both males) made brief appearances and eventually I decided to look outside.
The car park feeding station was very busy, a couple of willow tits and a nuthatch joined the commoner species along with a bank vole. A couple of goldcrests flitted through and 5 autumn Redwings flew overhead.
Out in the open it was nice to see a swirl of 6 Red Kites and a Buzzard, with Kestrel and Sparrowhawk close by too.

A very high-flying butterfly was the only one I saw today, the height of it made me guess it was a migrant species but as it was no more than a silhouette I had no idea what it was.
Dragonflies were showing well now, common darters in abundance, and a couple of migrant hawkers, one a very bright yellow female, hawked the field.

Possibly my final dragon photos of the season now as one darter remained still on the fence allowing me to get close. At first I thought it may be a very late Ruddy judging by the shape and colour of the abdomen from distance, but closer inspection showed it to be no more than a Common.

Dark red abdomen with unusually bulbous tip had me hoping
this might be a very late Ruddy Darter

But from this angle the pale stripe on the legs and minimal black
markings around the frons show it to be no more than a Common.

This is a more typical common darter with a more parallel-sided abdomen.
Considering the cold and wet weather we've had since my last outing over a week ago, there were far more dragonflies than I was expecting, and am wondering if the thin abdomen in the top darter is through wastage caused by lack of food. Dragonflies have a large crop in which to store food for periods of bad weather, but this time of year those tend to last longer and maybe this feller didn't have enough in the larder. Just a thought.
All in all today there were around 30 darters, 2-3 migrant hawkers and a southern, though thanks to one hungry water rail there are now at least three less darters than there were this morning :-(    


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