Monday 15 June 2020

What a day!

During lockdown, our mornings haven't begun that early, but today I had a place to be. I had been requested to help out finding some damselflies for an advertorial film shoot. This shouldn't have been a tough ask, but as it's the middle of June and I've only seen two individual insects, I was a little nervous. Thankfully, records submitted by other wildlife watchers gave me a reasonable idea where would be productive.

The cameraman and I met up by a pond at 9am, and despite a chilly breeze blowing from the same direction as the sun, we managed to locate a few damselflies in a warm, sheltered spot. As a bonus, a couple of Large Reds began mating, but it wasn't that kind of film.

On my way home again, I stopped off at another odo site, but there were fewer damsels here, but I did manage to photograph this female Large Red.

I also spotted this weird looking thing, which appeared to be channeling the spirit of my lockdown hair. I guessed that it was a moth caterpillar of some kind, and social media saved my blushes by informing me it was a Garden Tiger.

The recent bioblitz turned up several records for potter wasps, insects that I wasn't aware were present in Orkney. I was sufficiently intrigued by their fascinating behaviour to want to see it for myself. The adult wasp fashions a 'pot' out of mud, then just before it is complete, she paralyses half a dozen caterpillars and stuffs them in the pot, lays an egg on the hapless cats and seals the vessel. This is Ancistrocerus oviventris.

Whilst we were watching these goings on, something else whizzed by, which when it eventually landed, revealed itself to be a Humming-bird Hawk-moth. Wow!

Nearby was a small colony of Little Terns, which were tricky to photograph as they bathed, fished and courted. 

A terning tide

Back at Tense Towers, more butterflies were turning up, as an immigration from Europe seemed to be underway on a south easterly breeze. We managed to count 6 Red Admirals and 2 Painted Ladies (plus yet more Silver Y moths). As the afternoon turned into evening, the butterflies stopped basking in the flower border to soak up the last of the day's rays on the western wall of the house.

What. A. Day.

[Happy sigh]

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