This blog post will cover two excursions out I made at the very end of August. The first was a morning visit to a local nature reserve. The second was a day out to the other side of the Vice County. This is my illustrated account of those visits.
Tuesday, 30th August Kelham Bridge Nature Reserve
Kelham Bridge is about 15 minutes from my home by car. It has produced some interesting sightings in the past, but I had not been there for a long while, mainly because much of the interest can only be viewed from the two hides which are rather small and cramped and I didn't consider them a safe place in early Covid times.
Kelham Bridge has a reputation of being a dragonfly hot-spot, but I have never found it to be so, although one can be almost guaranteed to see them in the right season and suitable weather. I have, in the past, found it more interesting for birds.
As I entered the site, a Kestrel alerted me to its presence by flying out of a tree ahead of me and disappearing over the road behind me. I attempted some grabbed shots but this is the best of a bad bunch.
|Common Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus) - Kelham Bridge NR|
Absolutely nothing of interest was visible from the first hide and so I set off for the second hide. It seems that no visit is complete these days without the attendance of a Speckled Wood butterfly. This day was no exception.
|Speckled Wood (Pararge aegeria) - Kelham Bridge NR|
A little further on I found a Migrant Hawker which, at first, I took to be an immature male because of its blue colouration, but subsequently realised it was a rather blue female. I have no idea as to what may be the reason for the curved abdomen.
|Migrant Hawker (Aeshna mixta) (female) - Kelham Bridge NR|
Before reaching the second hide, I stopped for a Comma butterfly which didn't do me the honour of opening its wings and, instead, exhibited an unusually dull underside.
|Comma (Polygonia c-album) - Kelham Bridge NR|
I spent just over an hour in the second hide, which I had to myself, but all the birds stayed distant and nothing of particular interest prompted me to excercise the camera, other than a Little Grebe which stayed at the far side of the lake. Below is a very heavily cropped image.
|Little Grebe (Tachybaptus ruficollis) - Kelham Bridge NR|
As I reached the exit of the site, I stopped to take some shots of a Common Darter. When you look at these creatures closely, they become even more fascinating.
|Common Darter (Sympetrum striolatum) (female) - Kelham Bridge NR|
Although it had not been a particularly productive visit, it was very enjoyable in this tranquil place and I intend to return soon.
Wednesday, 31st August Rutland Water Nature Reserve
On this day I spent the greater part of a day on a visit to Rutland Water. I took my usual owling route and, as tends to be the norm these days, no Little Owl was seen.
My visit was to the Egleton side of the nature reserve and I kept to the north side of the Visitor Centre whilst there.
I missed out calling into Redshank Hide as people were going into the hide ahead of me. Little was seen from Grebe and Osprey Hides but as I walked round Sharples Meadow I found Ruddy Darter and Common Darter dragonflies.
|Ruddy Darter (Sympetrum Sanguineum) (male) - Rutland Water NR|
|Common Darter (Sympetrum Striolatum) (male) - Rutland Water NR|
The real interest happened on arrival at Shoveler Hide on Lagoon 3. Here I found people watching a good array of birds. Most obvious were the Little Egrets. I didn't count them but I guess that there were about twenty of them in immediate view. In the third image below, one appears to have caught a tandem pair of damselflies, which it soon swallowed.
|Little Egret (Egretta garzetta) - Rutland Water NR|
What I found to be more unusual than the large number of Little Egrets was the good number of Snipe that were in the immediate area, and active.
|Common Snipe (Gallinago gallinago) - Rutland Water NR|
Wanting to see what might be viewable further along the path, I called in at Buzzard Hide, where the view was so restricted by close tall growth that I left immediately. Nothing was seen from Smew Hide that was within identifiable distance without a 'scope (I no longer posess one).
Hopes were high for some good sightings from Crake Hide which overlooks a narrow part of South Arm III. However, on arrival, I found that the water level was extremely low, with the water's edge a long way away. I stayed here for a while, with the only shots taken being that of a distant passing Marsh Harrier.
It was time to set back to Shoveler Hide as that had been most productive for my interest. On the way back, I stopped for a very fresh-looking Comma butterfly.
|Marsh Harrier (Circus aeruginosus) (female) - Rutland Water NR|
In a shady area of the track, I noticed a small damselfly fly in and appear to land a bit further along. I am extremely glad that I spent time trying to find it as, when I did find it, it turned out to be a Willow Emerald Damselfly. This was only my fourth site in the Vice County for this species, and I was susbsequently told that it was first recorded from Rutland Water only last year.
|Comma (Polygonia c-album) - Rutland Water NR|
Further along the track, in better light and different areas, I found two female Common Blue Damselfly. One was an immature specimen of the drab form and the other a very bright specimen of the blue form.
|Willow Emerald Damselfly (Chalcolestes viridis) (female) Rutland Water NR|
|Common Blue Damselfly (Enallagma cyathigerum) (female - immature drab form) - Rutland Water NR|
Before reaching Shoveler Hide, I found a shieldbug of a species that I've not encountered before - a Spiked Shieldbug, so called because of those 'shoulders'. Its status is described as 'Fairly frequent but not common in Leicestershire and Rutland.' It is a carniverous species, with a particular liking for caterpillars.
|Common Blue Damselfly (Enallagma cyathigerum) (female - blue form) - Rutland Water NR|
My return to Shoveler hide turned out to be a fortuitous one, largely because of the eagle- eyes of a very knowlegable and friendly gentleman on a disability buggy. He was spotting, and identifying extremely distant birds long before I could see them. Here are a few that he alerted me to, all of which remained fairly distant, but close enough for me to track with the camera (practising on dragonflies in flight certainly helps!).
|Spiked Shieldbug (Picromerus bidens) - Rutland Water NR|
|Hobby (Falco subbuteo) - Rutland Water NR|
|Red Kite (Milvus milvus) - Rutland Water NR|
The Hobby had caught a dragonfly and consumed it in flight, but I did not manage to capture that event.
|Great White Egret (Egreta alba) - Rutland Water NR|
A Heron that had been lurking in the reeds, unseen by me, emerged into full view.
|Grey Heron (Ardea cinerea) - Rutland Water NR|
I alerted others in the hide to two waders flying in. I was unsure of the identity at first until my eagle-eyed companion ID'd them as Greenshank. Eventually they came nearer and I was able to get some shots.
My visit was cut short by a call from Lindsay to say that she was on a call from our son who was inviting us to join him and his two girls for dinner at an inn close to our home - could we accept? Of course I agreed and so hot-footed it back to the car and headed homeward. I did return by the owling route, but still nothing seen.
|Greenshank (Tringa nebularia) - Rutland Water NR|
It had been a splendid day at Rutland Water, and dinner with our son and grandchildren rounded it off perfectly!
This brings me to the end of my account, and the end of August. I'm not sure what my next blog post might feature and, at the moment, it looks as if it might be a short one - but not without interest!
In the meantime, please take good care of yourselves and Nature. Thank you for dropping by - - - Richard