Saturday, 9 July 2011


After a call from Dennis to say that the Lesser Emperor was once again at large in the corner of Abbey Mead lake I reluctantly changed my plans from weeding in the back garden to hunting dragons.

It didn't take me long to reach Brooklands car park and from there a double quick yomp along the railway path soon had me at my destination. It was obvious straight away that New Hythe lakes had a major twitch on it's hands. Six people, yes six, including myself and Martin, but not counting Flossie the Golden Retriever, who was languishing in the shade, looking completely bored by the whole thing. I don't recall such a gathering here before, certainly not for a dragonfly.

Before I go any further I should say that the pictures of the Gatekeeper butterfly, above and below, and the Speckled Wood below that were taken a couple of days back at New Hythe. The Gatekeeper being the first one of the year and also the 22nd species seen here so far this spring and summer.

So back to the twitch, and it wasn't too long before the Lesser made some appearances. It reminded me of Wimbledon a bit at times. Small gasps and excited cheers from the crowd as it appeared from nowhere and zoomed along in one direction, before suddenly turning and zooming back in the other, followed each way by six pairs of eyes and then a collective groan as it disappeared from sight and out of play.

Things were made a bit more tricky when the occasional Emperor made an appearance in the same area, sometimes I think being mistaken for it's cousin in the strong sunlight. On one occasion Martin and I followed one further down the bank just to be certain of what we were already pretty sure of and the picture below confirmed that this particular individual was indeed the Emperor.

Eventually I was left alone on centre court and I did have some very nice views of the female Lesser, her bright blue saddle showing much better as the sun lost some of it's brilliance, but it didn't settle in the area so I couldn't get a picture unfortunately.

I was lucky enough to get a couple of shots of the super hoverfly below while I was there today. It's scientific name is Volucella zonaria but it's sometimes called Belted Hoverfly or Hornet mimic, I did think it was a hornet when I first saw it because of it's colour and size. Unlike the Hornet though, it's harmless and doesn't have a sting.

The lakeside and reedbed here are swarming with damselflies, including the Red -Eyed pictured below in the wheel. Somebody also saw a Small Red-eyed before I got there but try as I might I couldn't find one, I will try again though as soon as I can.

I had one last try to get a picture of the Lesser Emperor before I headed off home, but although I saw it again a couple of times it still wouldn't settle. Then the sky became overcast and a few drops of rain started to fall so I gave up for today. Game, set and match to Anax parthenope. It even sounds like a tennis player!

Just before I go, a word of warning to visitors who park their car in Brooklands car park. On a saturday afternoon it should close at 3pm according to the sign on the gate. I arrived back at my car today at 2.35pm and found myself locked in. To say that I was furious was an understatement. Remember the Incredible Hulk? Well it wasn't quite like that, more like the Incredible Sulk, but you get my drift. I eventually walked back to the lake and asked a fisherman if he would mind letting me out (they have their own club keys)and he very kindly obliged, i'm extremely grateful for his help. I will be speaking to the council who own the car park on monday. I think a cash payment for stress and hurt feelings wouldn't be unreasonable.


Warren Baker said...

Better luck next time phil :-). Those Zonaria hoverflies are great beasties aren't they!

Anonymous said...

Some great pics there, Phil. Especially the angle of the first Gatekeeper.

Alan Pavey said...

Well done with catching up with the Lesser, really nice to have on your patch!

Greenie said...

Phil ,
At least you got to see the Lesser , I never have , but a picture would make it even better .
Seems to be several of the large hoverflies around just now .
You , sulk ?

Marianne said...

Oh, fab, you got the Lesser! Worth getting locked in for, I reckon (though maybe not if a handy fisherman hadn't released you...). A very nice supporting insect supporting cast too - that study of the mating Red-eyeds is especially lovely.

ShySongbird said...

Lovely photos again Phil, we could do with some of that sun here! Well done on at least seeing the Lesser Emperor.