Saturday, 18 May 2013

Bug-gity, bug-gity, bug-gity, let's go racing, girls!

With apologies to Darrell Waltrip and oval racers everywhere.

Following the many and varied types of weather experienced in the UK this week (fortunately, this neck of the woods avoided the snow), today's offering from the meteorological gods was relatively benign. Solid white cloud, little wind, temperatures around 14C (57F).

Not warm enough for you-know-what.

Ever hopeful, Our Lass and I ventured to Hanson Environmental Study Centre this afternoon, to see if we could find any signs of previous dragon or damsel emergence during the past week (shed larval skins clinging to emergent vegetation). Chances were minimal, owing to the rain and hail showers which have occurred on recent days, as these would likely have washed the exuviae back into the water.

Along the boardwalk and by the pond-dipping pool, we drew a complete blank. The only insects on the wing were countless midges (dragon food!). As we walked through the Near Paddock, Our Lass spotted a Green-veined White butterfly sat on a Cowslip. Even the close presence of my phone didn't induce it to take to the air.

We visited the usual sheltered and well-vegetated spots most likely to attract teneral and immature Odonata, but to no avail. That isn't to say that the place was devoid of life, for as we progressed through the reserve, many species of insects were to be found on the plants beside the path.

Green dock beetle, Gastrophysa viridula. Er... x 3

A hover fly, possibly Helophilus pendulus

I think this is an Amber Snail, Succinea putris

Alder Fly, Sialis lutaria
Not a clue what this fly is (the plant is Garlic Mustard aka Jack-by-the-Hedge, Alliaria petiolata). I only included this photo for the cutesy little caterpillar!
Whilst we're talking about wild plants, this time of year has some magical moments. For me personally, there's something rather lush about the gorgeousness of fresh Comfrey flowers. Forgive me for not knowing whether this is the native Common Comfrey, Symphytum officinalis, or the naturalised hybrid Russian Comfrey, S. x uplandicum. Just enjoy the lushness!

Whilst I was trying to photograph yet another bug, a stunning red and black froghopper, Our Lass called out "Damsel!"

Sure enough, she had found an immature male Azure Damselfly, still only partially coloured blue and very nervous. It flew off before I could take a picture.

My better half then proceeded to find another three Azures at various sites within the reserve, before I managed to get in on the act with an individual that flew low over some vegetation before alighting on a grass stem. Our Lass looked at it through her bins, agreed with my ID and then pointed out another one that I had missed, roosting just behind it. I was able to identify this individual as a Large Red Damselfly.

So, six hard-won damsels in total, as late as the eighteenth of May. This is the only year where the first ode I've seen has been anything other than a Large Red. 2013 is just plain weird.


Katie (Nature ID) said...

Finally, congrats! Is this the latest in the year you've seen your first seasonal odes?

Oh good lawd, we had a good chuckle over Mr. Waltrip's YouTube compilation.

Napi, napi, napi!

Imperfect and Tense said...

Yep, odes are go! This is where I can pretend that I wasn't worried at all.

I couldn't resist the oval racing twist title. I blame watching Champ cars in the 90s.