Thursday, 12 June 2014

Emperor Dragonfly Oviposting

With the birding being a bit flat at the moment we decided on another day chasing butterflies. We still wanted to see a Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary  in Sussex so we started off at the butterfly reserve at Park Corner Heath. It was my third visit over the past couple of months and so far had delivered just one Brimstone and one Speckled Wood. I had to go back to prove that I had just been unlucky. Well it was an improvement, I have now seen two Brimstones and two Speckled Woods over my three visits, somewhat short of expectations.

There may be some long term plan in place to develop the site and I do understand letting the bracken grow to provide the right conditions for the growth of violets, the Fritillary caterpillars food plant. However, this environment looks nothing like Bentley Wood in Wiltshire where we saw large numbers of the Small Pearl-bordered Fritillaries flying only a week ago.

Still the Speckled Wood was in good condition -

Speckled Wood

Fortunately the adjacent Rowland Wood proved more interesting with insects, dragonflies, moths and butterflies. The butterflies, mostly Large Skippers and Meadow Browns were very active, and in the heat I could not be bothered with chasing them. The moths were more interesting with a good specimen of Mother Shipton found.

Mother Shipton

The dragonflies were also entertaining. I thought Dave and I had both photographed the same dragonfly but looking at his blog  he has a Common Darter, yellow stripes down the legs and mine appears to be a female Ruddy Darter with black legs. It looks like we both missed an opportunity.

Female Ruddy Darter

Insects were also in evidence. I knew that this was a Longhorn Beetle but it took a bit more digging to identify it as Four-banded Longhorn Beetle (Leptura Quadrifasciata). Where would I be without the web?

Four-banded Longhorn Beetle (Leptura Quadrifasciata)

Having been a bit disappointed with our pictures of the Silver-studded Blues the other day we decided to head up to Old Lodge to see if they had put in an appearance there as yet. Butterfly wise it was a bit disappointing, we did see a few birds, Redstarts, Raven, Jays, etc. but neither of us had a long lens with us. Instead we made our way over to the ponds to look for more dragonflies.

There were plenty in evidence, Emperors, Broad-bodied Chasers, Four-spotted Chasers, and an assortment of Damselflies.

Slightly tatty Broad-bodied Chaser

and one in better condition

Four-spotted Chaser

Of most interest was this female Emperor Dragonfly oviposting in one of the ponds.

Female Emperor Dragonfly oviposting

Female Emperor Dragonfly oviposting

Female Emperor Dragonfly oviposting

The male Emperor was patrolling the pond for most of the afternoon. He did put down twice but only for a few seconds and he was flying again before I could get there. I always try for a flight shot but its very difficult. My best effort is shown below. I think I needed a bit more light and a faster shutter speed but I was happy to at least get him in the viewfinder.

Next time

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