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Thursday, 22 September 2022

The Last Two Days of August, 2022

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.
Marsh Harrier (Circus aeruginosus) (female) - Rutland Water NR
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.
Comma (Polygonia c-album) - 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.

Willow Emerald Damselfly (Chalcolestes viridis) (female) 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.
Common Blue Damselfly (Enallagma cyathigerum) (female - immature drab form) - Rutland Water NR
Common Blue Damselfly (Enallagma cyathigerum) (female - blue 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.
Spiked Shieldbug (Picromerus bidens) - 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!). 
Hobby (Falco subbuteo) - Rutland Water NR
Red Kite (Milvus milvus) - Rutland Water NR
Great White Egret (Egreta alba) - Rutland Water NR
The Hobby had caught a dragonfly and consumed it in flight, but I did not manage to capture that event.
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.

Greenshank (Tringa nebularia) - Rutland Water NR
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.
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



  1. You had a great end to the month of August, Richard, with a range of species. The picture of the Little Egret "stepping out" is very captivating, like a dandy promenading on the streets of London trying to impress the ladies! Greenshank, I suspect, is not an easy bird to photograph so no doubt you are happy with these images. The best news of all is that you had dinner with your son and granddaughters. Now that's something to really celebrate. Best wishes to you and Lindsay - David

    1. Greenshank are not usually too difficult to photograph, David, but it's rarely that I see one in these parts. In fact, the previous one that I'd seen one locally was in 2015. I usually get my Greenshank fix on the Isles of Scilly, where they're almost a given.

      My very best wishes to you and Miriam - - - Richard

  2. Lots of interest in your Last Two Days of August. There are lots of Shield Bugs I've yet to see, the Spiked being one of them.

    Thanks for the illustrated excursions Richard....Pete.

    1. There are many Shield Bugs that I have not yet set eyes on too, Pete, although I am rather fond of them. Today we had our first ever sighting of Dock Bug in the garden.

      Best wishes - stay safe - - - Richard

  3. Hello Richard :=)
    Another wonderful post with a wide variety of creatures. All your water birds are lovely images, and the close up of the Common Darter and the Shield bug are spectacular. I enjoyed looking at all your beautiful captures.
    Having a meal with your son and grandchildren is always so special. I'm pleased you and Lindsey were able to meet up with them and share their company over dinner.
    My best wishes.

    1. Thank you for your much-appreeciated kind words, Sonjia. I use a Sigma 50-500 lens for all my photos and it is good for distant shots as well as macro. Sadly, however, mine is now wearing out and Sigma have discontinued making the lens. Their alternative is a 60-600 at twice the price, 50% heavier, and a minimum focus length somewhat greater than the 50-500. I am not sure what to do !

      Best wishes - stay safe - - - Richard

  4. Fastastic Greenshanks and the Common Snipe, beautiful. Nice dinner with Son and grandchild's.

    1. Thank you, Bob. They were a very enjoyable couple of days. Best wishes - - - Richard

  5. What a great way to end the month!

    Congratulations on finding that Willow Emerald Damselfly. I really like your dorsal photograph. Close-ups of odes are so fascinating. They always seem to have an enigmatic smile as if they know something we don't.

    I hope your Snipe images mean we shall soon be seeing their North American cousins arriving in our local wetlands. They are such an interesting bird for me. You need to coordinate your visits with the eagle-eyed gentleman! Sounds like someone I'd follow around for a while.

    We are in the process of battening down for Hurricane Ian. We're inland so no worries about local flooding but falling tree limbs and power outages are another story. Not alarmed as we've been through this many times, but nature can be unpredictable, so we'll remain alert.

    Gini and I hope you and Lindsay enjoy the rest of the week and we look forward to your next report.

    1. Hi Wally. I hope that you and Gini are riding out the hurricane OK. We're seeing video of the winds there, and that is apparently before Ian himself arrives!

      It would seem that those Willow Emeralds are going to become commonplace, and they are rapidly spreading northward.

      I'm always delighted to see a Snipe, and even more excited if I see a Jack Snipe. I love the way that Jack Snipe bounce along.Both species are very special to me.

      We're doing fine here thank you and will be thinking of you as you battle with Ian. Stay safe - - - Richard

  6. Un reportaje de final de verano espectacular, me han gustado mucho todas las fotos y en especial las de la Gallinago gallinago y las del archibebe claro también. Enhorabuena Richard, un fuerte abrazo desde el norte de España.

    1. Gracias, German. Siempre me emociono con el avistamiento de Gallinago gallinago, y hoy tuve el cloqueo de ver a dos de ellos y también a dos de sus primos más pequeños, Lymnocryptes minimus.

      Mis mejores deseos desde una isla remota - - - - Richard


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