Notes on Use of This Blog

1. I have a policy that I always reply to comments on my blog, even if it's just to say thank you.

2. Please don't submit comments that include your own web address. For obvious reasons, they will not be published.

3. I'm now on Twitter - @RichardPegler1

Thursday 28 September 2023

Local Observations - 3rd to 13th September, 2023

Header image (while this post is current) - Common Buzzard - Thortit Lake on 6th September, 2023  

With this post I am, at last, reporting sightings in the same month as they happened!

Sunday, 3rd September            Garden  :  Donisthorpe Wood  :  Saltersford Valley Country Park

In the morning, I spent some time in the garden doing some general tidying up, during which I was keeping an eye open for wildlife on any items I pruned. This resulted in me finding a number of shieldbugs of three different species. I am rather fond of shieldbugs, so this was very pleasing, although I know little about them. All but one of the shieldbugs found were on the sunflower heads.

Hawthorn Shieldbug (Acanthosoma haemorrhoidale) (adult) - our garden
Hairy Shieldbug (Dolycoris baccarum) (adult) - our garden

Common Green Shieldbug (Palomena prasina) (3rd instar nymphs) - our garden
On this day, I was booked on an afternoon walk organised by Groundwork Five Counties in conjunction with The National Forest. This was billed as a 'Bug Hunt'. I turned up to the news that the designated guide had called in sick with Covid. However, a well-experienced substitute had been found. What I was not prepared for was the nature of the walk, which largely consisted of swiping sweep-nets through tree branches and ground vegetation, and examining what was in the nets. This was not my thing really, as I much prefer to seek and photograph items in their natural habitat. 

There were, nevertheless, some interesting items found and a few photos taken.

Beside the entrance to Donisthorpe Woodland from the car park was a fine example of Robin's Pincushion. Robin's Pincushion (also known as the 'Bedeguar Gall') is a gall caused by the larvae of a tiny gall wasp, Dipoloepis rosae. It is quite common.

Robin's Pincushion - Donishorpe Woodland
There were a few grasshoppers around.

Lesser Marsh Grasshopper (Chorthippus albomarginatus) - Donisthorpe Woodland
One of the items swept from its resting place was the beautiful caterpillar of the Pale Tussock moth. Unfortunately, this creature was still suffering from the shock of being displaced and didn't straighten itself out from its defensive curled state.

Pale Tussock (Calliteara pudibunda) (larva) - Donisthorpe Woodland
One of our eagle-eyed participants - a fellow dragonfly enthusiast - spotted scars on a willow that was overhanging an isiolated remnant of the Ashby Canal. These scars were left by the oviposition of the Willow Emerald Damselfly. This species is rapidly expanding its territory in UK and was first reported in our county in 2019. This damselfly bores into branches that are above water and lays its eggs. When they hatch, the newly-hatched nymphs drop into the water to start the aquatic stage of their life

Oviposition scars of the Willow Emerald Damselfly (Chalcolestes viridis) by Donisthorpe Woodland
Although a Migrant Hawker dragonfly was seen beside the canal I didn't manage any photos. There were, however, Common Darter dragonflies seen in several locations.

Common Darter (Sympetrum striolatum) (male) - Donisthorpe Woodland
There was an element of hilarity created when a Common Darter landed on the cap of the dragonfly enthusiast that had found the Willow Emerald scars.

Common Darter (Sympetrum striolatum) (female) - Donisthorpe Woodland
Saltersford Valley Country Park is only about a mile (1.6km) from Donisthorpe Woodland, and is one of my favourite dragonfly spots. My new pal, Lance - the fellow that had found the damselfly scars, and owner of the dragonfly magnet cap - was not aware of this place, so I took him there after the walk.

Surprisingly, there were more Migrant Hawkers than there were Common Darters - and they were landing. Lance was delighted as he got his first Migrant Hawker photos of the year.

Migrant Hawker (Aeshna mixta) (male) - Saltersford Valley CP

Wednesday, 6th September          Thortit Lake

A mid-afternoon visit to Thortit Lake - my nearest dragonfly hotspot - turned out a little different to what I was expecting.

I was not surprised to find Brimstone near my entrance point, off Willesley Woodside.

Brimstone (Gonepteryx rhamni) (male) - by Willesley Woodside
Although I saw several Migrant Hawker and a couple of Brown Hawker dragonflies, I was seeing Ruddy Darters almost everywhere - it was quite remarkable as, until this time, I had seen very few of this species this year.

I have been a little uncertain about showing the first shot, below, as it is not a good photo, but there's something about it that I find pleasing.

Ruddy Darter (Sympetrum sanguineum) (male) - Thortit Lake

This next one's for my good friend David.

Ruddy Darter (Sympetrum sanguineum) (male+femal in cop) - Thortit Lake

At one point I noticed a juvenile Moorhen that was running with ease across the dense algae covering on an area of the lake. Look at the size of its feet!

Moorhen (Gallinula chloropus) (juvenile) - Thortit Lake
. . . . .and another shot of a Ruddy Darter - this time, side-on.

Ruddy Darter (Sympetrum sanguineum) (male) - Thortit Lake
On my way back to the car, I was alerted to the presence of Common Buzzards by their distinctive calls. There were four of them together, high up and distant. However, they broke away from each other and one came close enough for some photos.

Common Buzzard (Buteo buteo) - Thortit Lake
Thursday, 7th September          Garden

It was around this time that a male Sparrowhawk started to make a nuisance of itself. So far, we have not seen it catch anything, but we are alerted to its presence by the sound of warning calls from the birds and the occasional thump as a bird, in panic, strikes a window. We have lost a few birds in this way over the years, but on many an occasion I have gone out to a bird that has been stunned, and wandered around the garden with it in my warm hand for up to an hour before it revives and flies away. 

Sparrowhawk (Accipiter nisus) (male) - our garden
Wednesday, 13th September          Thornton Reservoir and Brown's Wood

It had been a week since I had been out and prompted by a message from my new pal, Lance, who had been to Thornton Reservoir and seen "lots of Willow Emerald Damselflies and lots of Emerald Damselflies at Brown's Wood", I thought that I'd check it out as I'd not yet connected with Willow Emerald Damselflies this year. I was uncertain as to what my chances were as it had been a day of torrential rain the day before.

I arrived at Thornton Reservoir to find the car park all but full. Fortunately I was in our very small Smart, so was able to find a parking space. 

From the car park, drawn by an unusual call, I found an alien! It was, I believe, a Chinese Goose, the origins of which were, of course, extremely dubious.

Chinese Goose (Anser cygnoides) - Thornton Reservoir
As I approached the cafe area, a juvenile Moorhen scuttled down the slipway.

Moorhen (Gallinula chloropus) (juvenile) - Thornton Reservoir
Outside the cafe, there is a Willow that ovehangs the water. Here I saw a Migrant Hawker dragonfly and an emerald damselfly that settled but I couldn't get focus on before it flew. I am 95% sure that it was a Willow Emerald Damselfly. I waited patiently for a long while, but it didn't return.

The shape of Thornton Reservoir reminds me of a human double tooth, with the dam forming the biting surface and the two inlet arms being the roots of the tooth. The path to Brown's Wood leads off from just past the first inlet. My target was the two ponds that are in Brown's Wood. I had not been there before, and I soon found myself a little lost. In the end, I had to resort to finding my position on Google Earth, and chcking my progress as I went.

In the end, I found the two ponds. Little of the pond edge was accessible at the first pond and I got very wet feet and legs in the long grass. 

To cut a long story short, I got a grabbed shot of a warbler that I believe to be a Chiffchaff (dark legs on another even worse shot than this one).

probable Chiffchaff (Phylloscopus collybita) - Brown's Wood

There were a few Ruddy Darters and Common Darters.

Ruddy Darter (Sympetrum sanguineum) (male) - Brown's Wood

Common Darter (Sympetrum striolatum) (male) - Brown's Wood

I also found a damselfly that had me puzzled for a while, until I realised that it was an immature female Common Blue Damselfly.

Common Blue Damselfly (Enallagma cyathigerum) (immature female) - Brown's Wood
At the second pond, nothing was visible for a while and then a male Southern Hawker showed up. I tried for some flight shots but failed. It then flew off. I hung around for anther twenty minutes but it didn't show again. 

As I had a commitment later that afternoon it was time to head back. I had originally intended to do a complete circuit of the reservoir, but I had not left myself enough time so I headed back the way that I had come.

I saw more on the way back than I did on the way out. There were adult Moorhens out on the water.

Moorhen (Gallinula chloropus) - Thornton Reservoir

I saw several Common Blue Damselflies, and two of them were engaging in strange abdomen waving.

Common Blue Damselfly (Enallagma cyathigerum) (male) - Thornton Reservoir

There were also young Little Grebes around, with an adult not too far away. The water disturbance in front of this chick is where the adult has just dived.

Little Grebe (Tachybaptus ruficollis) (chick) - Thornton Reservoir
A juvenile Moorhen looked very confident out on the water.

Moorhen (Gallinula chloropus) (juvenile) - Thornton Reservoir

After Mallard, Tufted Duck must be our most common duck, but they are rather handsome.

Tufted Duck (Aythya fuligula) (male) - Thornton Reservoir

My last photos before I left were of a Red Admiral butterfly on ivy.

Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta) - Thornton Reservoir
By the end of the visit, I had not seen a single Emerald Damselfly and only seen one possible Willow Emerald Damselfly. However, it had been an interesting visit which included new territory for me, and was, therefore, a worthwhile one.

My next post, probably in about a week's time, will bring matters as good as up-to-date.

In the meantime, please take good care of yourselves and Nature. Thank you for dropping by - - - Richard


  1. Hello Richard,
    You caught the common buzzard in flight very well, taking photos in flight always requires speed, which makes you happier when the pictures turn out well. I think the foot size of the moorhen is a bit exaggerated ;-) and the dragonflies are, as always, my favorites.
    Greetings Frank

    1. I discovered my limitations in taking photos of birds in flight today, Frank. It did not help that I was on a fairly small boat in rough seas!

      Thank you for your visit and kind words. My best wishes - - - Richard

  2. I am not a fan of this business of a phalanx of people sweeping with nets, Richard. It’s all well and good for conducting a survey, but certainly not enjoyable from the standpoint of enjoying nature. To each his (or her) own, I suppose. Lots of odenates, however, and making a new human friend too is always very agreeable. As you will understand, I am very pleased that you located and photographed dragonflies in delicto flagrante; they are so brazen in their public displays of ultimate affection! There seems to have been lots of Moorhen with their outrageous feet, and you captured them well, to say nothing of the phenomenal flight shots of the Buzzard. A Sparrowhawk in the yard is a cause for both celebration and dismay, I suppose, but it is a beautiful bird and I would be more excited than angry! Enjoy the rest of your time in the Scilly Isles gorging on cake. I suspect a little ice cream may have been spooned along with it! Very best wishes to you and Lindsay - David

    1. Sweeping with nets really goes against the grain with me David, but I agree that if done for scientific purposes, rather than just for interest, it is acceptable.

      I would be extremely upset if I thought that a Sparrowhawk would not visit our garden ever again. For me they are welcome, but not several times a day over over several days, as the regular garden birds get wise and stay away.

      I only managed to find ice cream for the first time this visit today. It was on the quayside as I got back from a pelagic!

      My best wishes to you and Miriam - - - Richard

  3. Think I could write a book about this latest 'Local Observations' of yours Richard. Yet another excellent variety of wildlife, complete with a wealth of knowledge and illustrations from you. The least I can offer is, well done Richard.


    1. Yes, it was a bit long-winded, Pete . Thank you for your ongoing support and kind words which are always very much appreciated.

      Best wishes - - - - Richard

  4. Un placer para mí ver esté reportaje, me ha encantado. Besos.

    1. Gracias por tu visita Teresa. Lamento la respuesta tardía. He estado fuera de casa.

  5. Hello Richard :=)
    I'm also quite fond of the Shieldbug in fact I have recently made a post including one. It's good to know where to look to find them. I hope the beautiful Pale Tussock caterpillar is unharmed and found a safe place to hide from it's predators. All your Damselfly images are delightful, and the Sparrow hawk is a fine image. The large feet of the Moorhen made me smile, looking even more exaggerated in length because they were juveniles. Beautiful capture of the Red Admiral a butterfly I have also seen one in my garden recently.
    It's hot weather here reaching 30 degrees in the afternoons, but at lunch. time it is very pleasant to eat my lunch outside in the shade. It's lovely watching the Swallows circling around above.
    All the best Richard, Have a good week..

    1. Please excuse this late and brief reply, Sonjia. I have been away on the Isles of Scilly and the journey home did not go according to plan - we had to come back by boat as no planes were flying, resulting in us being a day late returning. We're still trying to catch up!

      Thank you so much for your visit - it is good to know that you are able to use the computer again.

      Take good care and stay safe - - - Richard

  6. We hope you Scilly trip is going (or went?) well. You mentioned to David there had been a delay in ice cream. That is very close to unacceptable news.

    I know you would have preferred a more "natural" bug walk, but you came away with some fine photographs. All of you images, of course, are outstanding, but I thoroughly enjoyed all of the Odonata. The young Moorhens often provide us with entertainment as they learn to use those wonderful feet.

    The Buzzard flight shots are really special. And your garden Sparrowhawk, as you say, may be good news/bad news, but nature will take its course no matter our thoughts.

    All here is good. Even though Florida doesn't have as much of a visible Autumn as more northern climes, there are noticeable differences which we enjoy encountering.

    Gini and I send our very best wishes to you and Lindsay!

    1. I only have two ice creams over our (unfortunately extended) stay, Wally. However, we made up for it by an excess of cake. Becky's Scilly Cakes are hard to beat - anywhere.

      Your words of encouragement are always appreciated, and I know you will excuse me for keeping this reply brief - I've a lot on my plate at the moment.

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

  7. Hello Richard, love your photo in the header. That as first reaction on your wonderful post. Those amazing dragonflies so well caputured. Love all those bugs and insects. Your camara dous not disapoint, great details, sharp and wonderful colours. The Sparow hawk in your garden is great and the little birds are smart to stay away for a few days.
    All the best and stay healthy,
    Regards to Lindsay.

    1. Thank you, Roos for your kind words. If you saw the many photos that get thrown away because they are not sharp and wonderful colours, you may think differently, but I do find that, in general, this camera does focus better than my old one. I still find myself making silly mistakes with the camera settings, so I still have a lot to learn.

      Best wishes - stay safe - - - Richard


Please Note: Blogger seems to be making it difficult for some (many?) people to leave comments on blogs, and also making it difficult for the recipient of comments to detect that a comment has been left. If you have any difficulties leaving a comment on the blog, please feel free to email me on However, if you are solely trying to promote your own blog or business by leaving a link in your comment, it will be blocked. If anyone wants to find you as a result of a comment that you have left, they can do so by looking at your profile.

Please, Blogger, get this mess sorted out.