Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Foulshaw Moss and an emerging Common Hawker

July 26, 2011:
Seeing something move deep in the marginal vegetation of a small pool at Foulshaw, a closer view revealed a Common Hawker emerging from its exuvia, the latter falling back into the water before there was the chance of a photograph. The insect then climbed slowly up a stem of Juncus, its wings folded at first but then gradually spread as it came out into full sunlight. Its thorax and abdomen were already developing a dull grey/brown coloration but its wings and pterostigma were completely colourless and translucent; the characteristic costa was, however, discernable. At first, due to its large size, it seemed that it might be an Emperor but the photos showed otherwise. After a few minutes perching in the sunlight it fluttered away into the nearby trees.

Four stages of emergence shown below (bottom upwards)

Also flying here were Black Darters, Four-spotted Chasers, an Emperor, and many Azure aand Emerald Damselflies.

[Black Darter, male]

[Four-spotted Chaser, male]

[Azure Damselfly, male]

[Emerald Damselflies, pair]

Sunday, 24 July 2011

Emperors, Hawkers and Darters at Brockholes Wetlands

July 23, 2011:
Being warm and sunny today and with only a mild breeze, this made ideal conditions for dragonflies. There were large numbers of Common Darters flying, most of which were immatures. A male Emperor incessantly patrolled one of the small pools and on the single occasion when it briefly settled, provided an opportunity for a photograph. The damselflies present here were mainly Common Blues.

[Male Emperor]

[Common Darters spent much of the time sunning themelves on nearby alders]

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Butterflies in the Peloponnese, Greece (1)

June 18-21, 2011:
Greece is renowned for its rich butterfly fauna with the mountains of the northern Peloponnese being especially favoured. A few days were spent here recently on the slopes of Chelmos at the height of the season and in perfect weather. Some of the species seen are shown here although some families such as the 'blues' and 'skippers' are difficult to identify and will be covered in a second part later.

[Clouded Yellows]

The mountain of Chelmos reaches an altitude of approximately 2400 metres a.s.l. but up to about 1800 metres it can be reached by the surfaced approach road originally constructed for skiing. The middle slopes are heavily afforested with Pinus cephalonica but at around 1700 metres this gives way to the scrub and short dry grassland known as the Xerocampos (dry fields). This latter area, the margins of the approach road, and the glades within the forest, all abound with butterflies. Some were very common here such as Clouded Yellows, Brimstones, and several species of blues. Up on the Xerocampos Glanville and Spotted Fritillaries were flying and the occasional Swallowtail and Camberwell Beauty were seen patrolling higher on the mountain.

[Glanville Fritillaries]

[Spotted Fritillaries, male above, female below]


[Camberwell Beauty]

In one of the glades amongst the pines a beautiful rich-coloured and rare Grecian Copper nectared on a species of Squinancywort, Cleopatras did similarly on the local variant of Common Vetch, whilst a pristine Black-veined White rested close by. On a branch overhanging a stream at lower altitude, a Southern White Admiral sunned itself.

[Grecian Copper, see top photo also]

[Cleopatra, a more colourful relative of the Brimstone]

[Black-veined White]

[Southern White Admiral. Distinguished from the more common White Admiral in having only a single row of marginal spots on the underwide of the wings]

[Forest glade frequented by several species including the Grecian Copper]

Thursday, 14 July 2011

Small Red Damselflies (Ceriagrion tenellum) near Penrhyndeudraeth, Gwynedd

July 12, 2011:
A visit to this small acidic lake a month ago resulted in only two Small Red Damselflies being seen; these were vastly outnumbered by the Large Reds flying at the time. Today the situation was reversed and Small Reds were present in good numbers although very localised. They are most easily separated from Large Reds by having red eyes and red legs. They are also smaller and are weak flyers. Male Small Reds and the females of the all-red bodied (f.erythogastrum) are not easy to separate although the latter are more robust. Females of the partially black f.intermedia were also seen here. Emerald Damselflies were emerging whilst at another small lake in the Conwy valley large number of Black Darters were flying.


[Pair, female f.intermedia]

[Female, f.erythrogastrum]

[Female, f.intermedia]

[Large Red Damselfly, male]

[Emerald Damselfly, male, acquiring pruinescence]

[Black Darter, Conwy valley]

Sunday, 10 July 2011

A visit to Foulshaw Moss, Cumbria

July 9, 2011:
During the past fortnight since I was last here the season had moved on dragonfly-wise with Black Darters and Emerald Damselflies now emerging. Black Darters seen were all males and mostly immatures with only the occasional one displaying its full colour. Most of the Emerald (Lestes) males had developed the blue pruinescence and these were very frequent in the marginal vegetation at the main pool.

[Emerald Damselflies, the dark brown pterostigma clearly seen, above]

The Black Darters were mostly immature males

Four-spotted Chasers were also flying but now in reduced numbers compared to two weeks ago and there were also several Emperors with at least one female seen ovipositing. Amongst the damselflies, as usual the Azures were by far the commonest here with a smaller number of Common Blue and Blue-tailed present. Flying conditions were very good: warm, sunny and with little or no wind.

[Azure Damselflies]

[Common Blue pair]

[Blue-tailed male]

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

A good dragonfly day in North Wales

July 4, 2011:
With the period of good weather forecast to end soon, a further visit was made to an idyllic upland lake near Llanrwst, Conwy. Conditions were perfect today with hot sun and no wind.

[Emerald Damselfly]

Seven species were seen: Keeled Skimmers, Black Darters (the first of the season) and very many beautifully fresh Emerald Damselflies. There were also four other damselfly species flying: Common Blue, Azure, Blue-tailed, and Large Red.

[Black Darter, all above]

[Emerald Damselfly, all above]

[Common Blue female, an unusual colour form?]

[Common Blue-tailed Damselfly]

[Large Red Damselfly]

[The dragonfly site]

Despite a very careful search, no Scarce Blue-taileds were located although some had been seen here on a visit three weeks ago.