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Monday, 21 August 2017

Ketton Quarry - on 30th June, 2017

Another retrospective blog post - this one concerning one of the several excellent Butterfly Walks led by Sarah Proud for the benefit of the volunteers at Rutland Water.

I've been to Ketton quite a few times, and it is a place I love - I just wish it was closer to home! This day we were to be blessed with good weather, after a few wet days. The meeting time of 09h00 meant a relatively early start for me as I'm around two hours away from this location.

We soon had one of our target species in sight - the wonderful Marbled White. This one was a male.

Marbled White (Melanargia galathea) (male) - Ketton Quarry
We had many other sightings of this species - here are a few more images:-

Marbled White (Melanargia galathea) (female) - Ketton Quarry

Marbled White (Melanargia galathea) (male) - Ketton Quarry
Marbled White (Melanargia galathea) (pair mating - female on top) - Ketton Quarry
There were a number of other butterfly species around, and I managed to photograph a few. Here's a selection:-

Ringlet (Aphantopus hyperantus) - Ketton Quarry

Large Skipper (Ochlodes sylvanus) - Ketton quarry
Small Skipper (Thymelicus sylvestris) - Ketton Quarry
We saw several day-flying Cinnabar moths. Here's one:-

Cinnabar (Tyria jacobaeae) - Ketton Quarry
Two species of fritillary butterfly were there. The first seen was Silver-washed Fritillary, which I have never before photographed.

Silver-washed Fritillary (Argynnis paphia) - Ketton Quarry
 More numerous, however, were the Dark Green Fritillaries.

Dark Green Fritillary (Argynnis aglaja) - Ketton Quarry
Ketton Quarry is also known for its orchids. I've tried to learn a bit about orchids, but so far find that I fail miserably when it comes to identification of the Spotted/Marsh/Fragrant Orchids. Here are a few that I'll just call A, B, C or D. I suspect that they were all colour variants of Common Spotted Orchid (yes, I omitted to make a note of the leaves!), but I'd be grateful for any advice.

Orchid A - Ketton Quarry
Orchid B - Ketton Quarry

Orchid C - Ketton Quarry
Orchid D - Ketton Quarry
I do know, however, that just before we set off back to the start point we were shown Bee Orchid.

Bee Orchid (Ophrys apifera) - Ketton Quarry
I take this opportunity to thank Sarah for yet another splendid Butterfly Walk.

Thank you for dropping by. I'm not sure what my next post will be about.

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Heather Lake - on 21st June & 5th July, 2017

On 25th May, I had paid a visit to the lake at Heather and been impressed by the number of damselflies (Azure, Common Blue, and Blue-tailed) and Four-spotted Chaser dragonflies that were there. I resolved to return at various stages during the season. My next visit, however, wasn't until 21st June.

Wednesday 21st June

As I approached, I found that there were large numbers of Ringlet butterfly along the edges of the meadow.

Ringlet (Aphantopus hyperantus) (male) - near Heather Lake
Reaching the lake, it was immediately apparent that there were good numbers of male Emperor dragonfly around. These - one of the two largest of British dragonflies - were hard to miss! 

There were, perhaps, too many of them as they were extremely active and almost permanently engaged in feuds over territory with their own species and with the Four-spotted Chasers. I only saw three perch, and two of them were in extremely poor condition. This first one was rather too distant for a detailed shot.

Emperor (Anax imperator) (male) - Heather Lake
I'd already taken a couple of shots of the next one before I noticed that it had lost a complete wing! This was disappointing as it was very confiding.

Emperor (Anax imperator) (male) - Heather Lake
The third one looked to be relatively intact, but insisted on playing hide-and-seek with me - I'd have had to wade out into the lake to get round to the other side of it.

Emperor (Anax imperator) (male) - Heather Lake
There were plenty of Common Blue Damselflies around, including numerous mating pairs.

Common Blue Damselfly (Enallagma cyathigerum) (male) - Heather Lake
Common Blue Damselfly (Enallagma cyathigerum) (pair mating) - Heather Lake
The Four-spotted Chasers were just as aggressive as the Emperors, but seemed to be weathering their encounters somewhat better than them.

If there's ever a competition for the photo with the most exuvia on one stem, I might enter the first image - and I was so intent on photographing the dragonfly that I didn't even notice at the time. If I had have done, I might have got even more than the six that are visible in the image!

Four-spotted Chaser (Libellula quadrimaculata) (male) - Heather Lake
Immediately after taking that last photo, I went round to the other side of the bush that I was standing beside, and sent a Hobby flying off into the distance. I only managed a retreating shot, but it appears that it was a juvenile. This bird was possibly responsible for that Emperor losing a whole wing!

Hobby (Falco subbuteo) (juvenile) - Heather Lake
One of the most interesting sightings for me was a lone Black-tailed Skimmer near the south end of the lake. Whilst by no means a rare dragonfly, I don't see that many of these.

Black-tailed Skimmer (Orthetrum cancellatum) (male) - Heather Lake
From the west side of the lake I was able to observe a female Emperor ovipositing.

Emperor (Anax imperator) (female - ovipositing) - Heather Lake
As I was about to leave, I noticed an Emperor exuvia which I photographed in-situ before retrieving it. It now sits in a pot in my study.

Emperor (Anax imperator) (exuvia) - Heather Lake
Wednesday 5th July

Two weeks later I was back again. This time there were even more Emperor dragonflies in evidence.

Strangely, an Emperor exuvia was the first thing I photographed this time!

Emperor (Anax imperator) (exuvia) - Heather Lake
Some of the male Emperors were settling and, fortunately, many of these were in better shape than those on my previous visit - but not all of them!.

Emperor (Anax imperator) (male) - Heather Lake
I spent a short while trying to get flight shots, but the high foliage at the edge of the lake kept getting in the way. This was the best I could manage. Although it's a terrible, shot it amuses me as it reminds me of looking up at a helicopter.

Emperor (Anax imperator) (male) - Heather Lake
There were many Common Blue Damselflies around, as can be seen in this next image.

Common Blue Damselfly (Enallagma cyathigerum) - Heather Lake
I don't see many of the blue form of the female Common Blue, so was pleased to get this pair in tandem.

Common Blue Damselfly (Enallagma cyathigerum) (pair in tandem) - Heather Lake
There was plenty of mating going on on this occasion too.

Common Blue Damselfly (Enallagma cyathigerum) (pair mating) - Heather Lake
Four-spotted Chasers were still around, though not quite as numerous as on my previous visit.

Four-spotted Chaser (Libellula quadrimaculata) (male) - Heather Lake
The female Emperors were ovipositing again.

Emperor (Anax imperator) (female - ovipositing) - Heather Lake
The real highlight of the day for me, however, was getting my first ever shot of a mating pair of Emperors!

Emperor (Anax imperator) (pair mating) - Heather Lake
I recently returned to Heather Lake. The weather was not ideal, and I only saw four dragonflies during a two-hour search - it seemed very strange! Any disappointment was added to by finding that I'd managed to step in a large pile of dog dirt hidden in the long grass. Cleaning this from deeply treaded soles of my boot was not a pleasant task.

Thank you for dropping by - I suspect that my next post will feature butterflies, but I've still got a lot of catching up to do.