'Lilypad Pit', Weybread GPs, 24 & 25 August 2016

An after work pop to Weybread on a hunch that the Lilypad Pit may hold something interesting. Back in the early summer I had a few Red-eyed Damselflies there and sure enough this time I found Small Red-eyed Damselflies. And not just a few, c120 was a fairly conservative estimate with every bit of surface vegetation holding some! A single Willow Emerald was also a nice find on a bramble hedge and I also had Common Blue Damselflies, Brown Hawker, Small Copper, Brown Argus, Common Blue, Small Tortoiseshell, Small White and a Green Woodpecker.
I returned today with my camera to get these pics and added Kingfisher, Emperor Dragonfly, Common Darters, Holly Blue, Blackcap and a few Blue-tailed Damselflies including a nice pale green 'infuscans' female

Small Red-eyed Damsefly

Willow Emerald

 Brown Hawker, female ovipositing

Common Blue

Common Darter, teneral female

Rutland Water and The Birdfair, 20 August 2016

Yesterday Justin, Andy and I made our (not quite annual) pilgrimage to the Birdfair at Rutland. Nothing too much to report rom the fair itself other than the usual catch-ups, overpriced food/drink and a couple of book purchases. I attended a couple of talks, one on New Zealand which gave a nice taster to a destination that is on my radar for the future and then an hour long one by the Sound Approach team on wader calls which I have to say left me a a bit cold.

It would have been rude not to squeeze in some birding while we were there and it proved to be pretty damned good. On the drive over we'd seen Red Kite and Common Buzzard and from the optics tent at the fair we had a quick squint at a Water Rail before we grabbed our own optics from the car and had a look at Lagoons 1 and 3 of the Egleton Reserve. 3 Great White Egrets, 5 Little Egrets, Little Grebe and a juv Osprey on Lagoon 1 were followed by Wood Sandpiper, 12 Green Sandpipers, 3 Greenshank, Snipe, Curlew, 7 Ruff, Marsh Harrier, 3 Red-crested Pochard (eclipse males), juv Garganey and several Wigeon amongst the large numbers of common wildfowl which included good numbers of Gadwall and Shoveler.

After we left the fair a stop in at the Lyndon Reserve on the way home gave us a very unseasonal drake Long-tailed Duck, Black Tern, Arctic Tern and loads of Common Terns.     

Strumpshaw Fen, 18 August 2016

Strumpshaw Fen has always been a special place for me since I cut my birding teeth here as a child.
The main reason for this visit was to track down and photograph Willow Emerald damselflies, one of those 'southern' species that is gradually trying to colonise the UK. Armed with directions to the likely spots the weather wasn't ideal to begin with and I only managed to find one which was not very photographable. After a walk to Tower Hide and back it had warmed up considerably and I was able to fill my boots with really close views of c8 individuals. At the same spot was a male Common Emerald damselfly while Migrant Hawkers, Brown Hawkers, Ruddy Darters and Common Darters were out in numbers plus the odd Southern Hawker. A Willow Warbler was strangely in full song this late in the summer.

Willow Emeralds

Migrant Hawker

The walk to Tower Hide was productive too. From the hide were 9 juvenile Garganey, 2 Water Rails, 8 Ruff and Little Egret and then on the way back a lovely 2nd generation Swallowtail that posed briefly by the river bank in almost the exact same spot I had one in early summer. Another one was on the way back along the Lackford Run plus Black-tailed Skimmers, Great Spotted Woodpecker and a Kingfisher.

Brown Hairstreaks in Suffolk, 17 August 2016

A trip down to 'foreign parts' today! More specifically Belstead Meadows on the south side of Ipswich.
Exceptionally, Brown Hairstreaks have been discovered at the site so armed with directions I made my way to the spot by about 09.00. The Blackthorn habitat here is extensive and looks absolutely ideal for this unobtrusive but enigmatic species. By 10.10 I'd had my first sighting, a nice eye level fly through. Between then and 11.00 I had 7 or 8 sightings of 3 or 4 individuals in 3 different locations all within a 300 yard straetch. There has inevitably been conjecture about the origins of these butterflies but talking to locals there it seems they also occur at Piper's Vale which is about 2 miles away. A superb Wasp Spider was at my feet while waiting for the hairstreaks and I had Gatekeeper, Meadow Brown, Small White, Holly Blue, Common Blue, Migrant Hawker, Southern Hawker, Brown Hawker, Bullfinch and Common Whitethroat.   

Wasp Spider, Benstead Meadows

While I was down that way it would have been amiss of me not to call in at Groton Wood to see the Violet Helleborines and I located 11 plants in their usual spot in shaded woodland. Speckled Wood, Red Admiral, Green-veined White and Holly Blue were also there.   

Violet Helleborines, Groton Wood

  Holly Blue, Groton Wood

A few Butterflies and Dragonflies, North Norfolk, 12 August 2016

This was predominantly a trip up to some of my old stomping ground to catch up with some butterflies, orchids and dragonflies. As it turned out my fading memory of the orchids (Creeping Ladies Tresses) from c20 years ago failed me but I live to fight anotehr day with that one!

Warham Camp has now been a fairly long-standing site for an introduced population of Chalkhill Blues and in the right weather they are plentiful along the dicthes of the old Iron Age fort. I saw hundreds this morning but they were difficult to photograph as they were whizzing about everywhere. Also there I had  a single Painted Lady, Meadow Browns, Gatekeeper, Common Blue, Holly Blue, Small White, Large White, Green-veined White, Small Copper, Wall Brown and Comma.

On to Holham Meals where despite 2 hours of searching I failed with Creeping Ladies Tresses but nonetheless managed 2 Painted Ladies, Small Tortoiseshell, Red Admiral, Wall Brown, Peacock and Speckled Wood bringing my butterfly day total to 15 species. There were also plenty of Common Darters, a few Ruddy Darters and my first Migrant Hawker of the year.

My final port of call was a small pond on the Thorpe Marriot estate at Taverham. Here I'd had a tip-off that there were Small Red-eyed Damselfies present and sure enough I had about 10 there although they were stubbonly staying in the middle of the pond so difficult to photograph. Also there were Southern Hawker, Brown Hawker, Blue-tailed Damselfly and Azure Damselfly.