Monday, 3 July 2017

After the Rains . . .

Seems an age since I was last out thanks to a four-day rain binge, so a decent forecast had me out early (ish) on Sunday, checking the dragonfly sites in the valley.
First stop Thornley Woods Pond; last year around this time the Southern Hawkers were emerging in their droves, but the recent adverse weather must have slowed the process down as not a single exuvia could be found, indeed in the cold morning air only a couple of azure damsels inhabited the pond, though I was surprised to find a Mallard duck with a covey of eight ducklings on this small woodland pond, especially as its frequented daily by dogwalkers who aren't averse to letting their pooches run amok in the water.

I don't know if ducks are strictly vegetarian or whether an emerging dragonfly would make a tasty snack for them, I'm hoping the former otherwise the emerging hawkers might be in for a bit of a beating given the size of the pond and the lack of thick vegetation. Time will tell on that one.

a quack of ducks

a veritable flotilla

cute . . . but not if they eat dragonflies

"Ducklings, farezands of 'em" as Michael Caine might have said if he'd starred in
the film Ducklings rather than Zulu

Next stop Far Pasture as I wanted to check out the Chaser pond, but sadly the promised sunshine hardly materialised and the dragons stayed away for the most part, a single 4-spot and a common darter were the only two seen, though bucketfulls of damsels swarmed in the shallows, mainly blue-tailed with smaller numbers of the two blue species.
I also noticed a wasps nest in a metal fencepost, lots of comings and goings so I didn't get too close.

Man-made Wasp nesting hole aka fencepost

"Wasps, farezands of 'em" as Michael Caine might have said if . . . ah forget it

One of a few blue damsels at the chaserpond

This Blue-tailed female infuscans form was blown into the pond by a sudden gust but scrambled
to safety without me having to intervene 

Last stop was Clockburn Lake, but still the clouds reigned supreme. I checked out the Black-tailed Skimmer site but not a dragon was flying, probably just as well as a band of swifts were hawking low over the lake, with the cool air keeping the flying insects low. It was a treat to watch them though, often zipping close past me, great birds and plenty of them in the valley this year I've noted.
The outlet stream had good numbers of blue-tails, with some class rufescens and violacea immatures, striking damsels, and a species which doesn't tend to hide away so much in cooler conditions like today.

Rufescans form female, a cracking example, many of them about too,
Michael Caine would have been pleased 

Not so many Violacea forms but some cracking examples of those too

Less colourful, an immature male

This typica form female stayed put on the bridge for a while during a dull spell
but my many attempts at getting a mega-close-up failed miserably, couldn't get it in focus 

I cut my trip short as it wasn't getting any better. Too cloudy for flying dragons, and too dull for decent photos of the damsels. The sunshine came in small pockets and I tired of waiting for another opening. Predictably, not long after I got home the sun decided to come out, and I spotted my resident Leafcutter Bee as the kids played in the garden, and got a few snaps of her in action.

Leaf-cutter in action, I was surprised at how quickly she cut through the leaf

The last bit was a bit tricky

A matter of seconds and she was off, leaving the leaf like an unfinished jigsaw

This mason wasp settled nicely in the garden also

Another good garden sighting was of a male Blackcap, unusual visitor for this time of year, and no time for photos as he only came out of leaf cover to take off and fly over the road.

Not going to be a great week for dragonhunting this week either according to the forecast, wasn't bad today but school sports day took precedence (well done the Derwent kids) so looks like I'll be living off scraps again to get my fix this week :-/       

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