Saturday, 1 August 2015

Week Two Round-Up

Week two of the summer hols was (if anything) worse than week one. Mostly washed out with the rain (about two months too late) we hardly got outdoors, and Dragonhunting was restricted to snatched hours in the valley, for the most part during unkind weather and mainly amounting to nothing much.

A morning visit to Thornley Woods Pond last Sunday after a night of rain gave just a single large red damsel and a few azures.

Thornley Woods Pond
The thick mat of grasses creeping further out from the far margins, the nearside still regularly
used as a dogs bathing area.  

Highlight today was watching this wasp drinking raindrops from the emergent grasses.

Far Pasture the same day didn't fare much better, three common darters on the pond, azure, common blue, blue-tailed and emerald damsels scattered about in ones and twos, and a brief glimpse of a mystery hawker which showed an extended light blue saddle on an otherwise dark abdomen reminiscent of a female lesser emperor, but so brief was the view as it shot across the pond that was the only bit that registered, after which three days of rain meant I wasn't able to investigate further until Thursday, by which time there was no sign of any hawkers at all on the pond.

At least the Little Grebe family showed well, parent feeding the little stripey with a selection
of fishy treats

Not much in the way of dragons but I did find a common blue damsel on the road
which bore an uncanny resemblance to Hitler 
Three subsequent visits to far pasture at the back end of the week (including today) gave very little in poor conditions, no more than 3 or 4 common darters on each visit, even lesser numbers of damsels and three more unidentified hawkers, two flushed up from the roadside in poor light and a third hawking the avenue of trees at the top of the road in silhouette.

Nice weather for ducks
Bright sunshine when I set out for far Pasture on Thursday, but spent the best part of an hour here
just watching the ducks get wet.
Slightly better weather on Friday with Sprog1 in tow, and at least a few darters showed during the sunny intervals, but even then we had to cut the visit short with the gathering dark clouds.

Common Darter (immature male)
mainly yellowish in colour 

Common Darter (maturing male)
starting to develop an orangey red tinge along the abdomen

Common Darter (mature male)
Abdomen now the complete orange/red colour

Common Darter close-up
The immature male showing a mainly yellow thorax and yellow striping on legs 
Today it was the turn of the females to show well, though again an ultimately disappointing visit :

Common Darter (female)
A boldly marked individual, note the much thicker abdomen than the male. Similar to the
Ruddy Darter female but the yellow leg-stripes are a giveaway. 

She began probing the fence with the tip of her abdomen in a graceful rhythmic gymnastic show
I've never seen performed before, so no idea what it was all about. 

Token arty shot to finish.

Disappointingly not a sniff of a Ruddy Darter yet, but given the poor numbers of common darters on show so far that's hardly surprising either.
Hoping for better weather and opportunities next week.

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