Tuesday, 29 May 2012


I paid an early visit to New Hythe lakes on monday morning to take advantage of the cooler hours. Mind you they weren't that cool and I think the birds agreed, with most of them staying under cover and out of sight.
Brooklands lake was almost deserted apart from a few Coots and half a dozen BH Gulls. No hirundines and no Swifts, in stark contrast to the cool, damp, low pressure conditions that brought them down to lake level in their hundreds in the latter half of April and early May. There was however, one welcome visitor in the shape of a Turtle Dove on the wires over the sunken marsh. It was a bit too distant for a picture but nice to see, especially as this will possibly be the only one i'll see here if the last couple of years are anything to go by.
Unsurprisingly it wasn't too long before my attention turned to the hordes of damselflies that have appeared while I was in Scotland. 

When I say hordes, I do mean hordes. As I walked along the sunny path between Brooklands and Abbey Mead lakes, Common Blues, Azure and Blue-tailed damsels in every stage of their amazing life cycle lifted from the undergrowth and hovered uncertainly before settling back on their chosen spot.
It's just as well there are so many because a lot don't make it to the end of their natural life. They become fodder, with many flying into the traps of spiders like the one above. Others are predated by birds, some by dragonflies and I wouldn't mind betting some of the bigger surface feeding fish are quite partial to a tasty damsel too!

It's great to see a few dragonflies at last and the one above was in the side of a water filled ditch on the south side of the west scrub. I think this is an immature four spotted chaser, but i've been spectacularly wrong with another species lately so I could easily be wrong again. But, what I didn't realise when I took the picture was  that it was perched directly above a larval case, or exuvia. I don't know if this was its own final larval case but I hope it was, it just completes the picture somehow. It might be better to left click the picture for a better view. 

I stopped off at the small bridge over the millstream, home each year to seemingly ever growing numbers of Banded Demoiselles. I think the one above is an immature male.

This is without doubt, for me, one of the best looking dragonflies, it's a Four Spotted Chaser and it was patrolling its territory along the edge of Abbey Mead lake as I made my way home. Everything that ventured near was inspected and chased away with vigour by this stunning little chaser, it even gave me a sideways glance from its chosen lookout tower as I approached the water's edge.  

Finally, as Carol and I stood on the patio last night at about 10.30, listening to the Nightingale, something huge and fearsome flew in towards the light and dropped into one of the shrubs below it. It was a Stag Beetle, huge yes, fearsome no. I kept it safe overnight and took a few pictures this morning before releasing it in a wood pile behind the shed at the bottom of the garden. What a fantastic creature!!


Greenie said...

Phil ,
I wouldn't argue with any of your IDs today , spot on .
As you say many emerging damselflies are predated , I've watched Chaffinches sitting above a lake edge taking them on their maiden flight .
Great shots of the Stag Beetle .
10.30 with a lady , listening to Nightingales , confirms just what I thought , you old smoothie .

Marianne said...

Wow, magnificent Stag Beetle! Great report, love hearing about the dragons and damsels. I've seen stacks of damsels locally but precious few dragons so far.

ShySongbird said...

Hi Phil, I've just left a late comment on your Mull post.

Well, I'm very envious of your 'hordes' of damsels! I haven't seen even one here yet this year and believe me I have looked in all the right places. You have some lovely photos of them and of the Four Spotted Chaser, it is a beautiful dragon!

The Stag Beetle really is a magnificent and impressive creature, great photos of it!

Lovely photo of the Green Alkanet too, it seems to have done particularly well this year, at least where I am.

As for that Nightingale...it certainly likes your garden...sigh!!

kirstallcreatures said...

Great pics of the woodpecker & banded demoiselle but my favourite has to be the stag beetle, what a cracking find