I was really pleased to see my first ever Golden-ringed dragonfly at Sissinghurst last week. But it was a big surprise to find another two at a local woodland site in West Farleigh just up the road from me a few days later (picture above). I understand also that these are the first ever to be recorded here, which bought an even bigger smile to my face. I was pretty sure that both were males and I returned a couple of days later in the hope of finding a female, but sadly just two males were seen.
Habitat for these dragonflies, which are uncommon in the south east, is fairly specific. They prefer slow running, narrow and often very shallow streams, sometimes in a fairly open woodland setting. This pretty much fits the bill for this particular site where two small, shallow ponds are fed by just such a stream.
Other interest found on this mostly woodland site include this immature male Southern Hawker.
In the middle of the lower of the small ponds I spotted this dragonfly above (I think it too is a Southern Hawker), in the process of finally moulting from its long larval stage into its relatively short existence as an air breathing, magnificent flying machine. This is the final part of its life and it will spend its last few weeks with just two things on its mind, food and (hopefully) sex. Also in the picture are a couple more exuviae left behind on the reeds by other emerging dragons.
The White Admiral above was also a surprise find and I understand that this is also something of a rarity in the area with only a few recorded sightings. This one flew down briefly and landed on the vegetation which partially covers the surface of the ponds, giving me just enough time for a couple of fairly distant shots. I think the other butterfly below is probably a Small Skipper (I do get these wrong sometimes) and is much more common but welcome none the less.
On wednesday I paid a long overdue visit to New Hythe lakes. It's true to say that I've neglected the place lately, lured to far flung (and local) places in pursuit of previously unseen Odonata.
All the expected dragons and damsels made an appearance including Brown Hawker, Emperor, Common Darter and Black-tailed Skimmer for the dragons. Damsels included Common, Azure, Blue-tailed and Red-eyed. Few were inclined to pose and those that did insisted on moving at the last moment, thus rendering the pictures unusable.
Butterflies on the other hand are sometimes easier and more obliging, like the Peacock above, without doubt my favourite and the Gatekeeper below, one of dozens seen dancing erratically among the tall grasses alongside the Meadow Browns. Other species included Speckled Wood, Comma, Large White, Small Tortoiseshell, Red Admiral and Small Skipper.
Inevitably, the birding was quiet. It's mid summer after all and most of the serenading is finished and broods are fledged. Although the Whitethroat above was very alarmed by my presence and was in possession of a beak full of insecty morsels which are obscured by the vegetation here. A second brood maybe. Thirty three species were seen or heard in my three hour visit including Common Tern ( a NH year tick), Bullfinch, Buzzard, Kingfisher, Blackcap, Green Woodpecker, unusually, a brief burst of what sounded like Willow Warbler from the sunken marsh and of course the ever present Mute Swans.
And finally some bits from the garden. The female Southern Hawker above and below was egg laying around the garden and the pond this afternoon. I know they are inclined to lay their precious eggs above the water line but between the cracks in paving slabs and underneath bushes (below) seemed a bit bizarre. As did the eggs apparently laid in one of the flower pots.
Our Hedgehog and Hoglets are still patrolling the garden from late evening and seemingly enjoying a bit of chicken - well it beats slugs I suppose. That's Mum above and one of her offspring below.