Friday, 18 July 2014


 I noticed a large dragonfly laying eggs around my pond yesterday. I grabbed the camera and went to investigate. The dragon turned out to be a Southern Hawker,the females of which are a stunning bright green and brown. While waiting for the hawker to settle I noticed a movement in the corner of the pond. This turned out to be the Grass snake above. I soon forgot about the dragonfly and watched the snake as it flicked its tongue out rapidly, eventually sensing my presence and retreating into the tangle of plants and grasses that grow in the corner of the pond.

 The Southern Hawker had now departed but this Common Darter posed nicely in between fighting off interlopers. The hawker will be back, watch this space.

Given the glorious weather I decided to pay a visit to the local Quarry Wood wildlife reserve, with the main intention to try and relocate the Golden-ringed dragonfly I found there last week and maybe get lucky and see the Spotted Flycatchers reported there recently. More about that later.

Before reaching the wood there is a very nice meadow which is intersected by the footpath. The bottom end of the meadow is gloriously warm and sunny and overgrown with thistles and other wild flowers. This is butterfly heaven. Here are a few pictures of some of the species seen, starting with Small Skipper above. 

Gatekeepers above and below.

This is Large White I think.

There's no doubting this Peacock, fresh as a daisy. This will be the offspring of the early Peacocks which hibernated over the previous Winter. My favourite.

I was pleased to find just one Brimstone, female I think, above and below. Given its condition, this one, like the Peacocks will be of the new brood.

Having filled my boots with butterflies I started to walk along the main track through the wood where I was lucky enough to find a Beautiful Demoiselle. It allowed a quick shot before flitting away.

 It's quite open along this path and is a good place to find more butterflies and a few dragonflies on the wing now. But my attention  was soon grabbed by a small bird flying high into an Oak tree with a butterfly in its beak, one of my favourite Peacocks! It turned out to be a Spotted Flycatcher (above) and it fed the butterfly to a juvenile (below). There turned out to be two juveniles I think and these and the adult are my first this year. I sat and watched them for some time, seeing also a Jay, a very low flying Buzzard and Gt Spotted Woodpeckers as well as the more common woodland species.

Eventually I left the Flycatchers and made my way to the small ponds in the hope of relocating the previously mentioned Golden-ringed dragonfly. On arrival I immediately saw Common Darters and a very inquisitive Southern Hawker who buzzed me at knee height for some time, before losing interest and departing. Then another dragonfly turned up, quite high this time and the slim abdomen, ending in a noticeable club shape, signalled the arrival of a male Golden-ringed. I watched it patrolling the same circuit for some time. It only settled once, quite briefly in an Ash tree, allowing just a distant record shot. All in all a very nice morning. Next time I hope to get a decent picture. 


Warren Baker said...

All it takes is a bit of the countryside left to its own devices for a few years and the wildlife will come :-)

Wait until the Golden ringed Dragon has caught a meal Phil, they will often tolerate close approach then :-)

Greenie said...

Phil ,
Always a difficult one Lg/Sm. White , with runt Lg and good sized Sm., especially closed winged .
Sounds an idyllic place and so close to home .
Must have been mixed emotions with favourite butterfly being fed to SpFly youngster .
Love the Grass Snake shot .

Lou Mary said...

Fabulous wildlife experiences! I absolutely love seeing grass snakes and you managed a brilliant image of that one. Although it is sad to see such a beautiful butterfly turning into a meal - it is the circle of life and at least those juveniles wont go hungry! Great post Phil.

Mike Attwood said...

Fine collection Phil especially the grass snake.

JRandSue said...

Brilliant collection Phil,love the Grass Snake.

Dean Ashby said...

Some stunning shots and a great read! I'd never actually seen a brimstone before so they were particularly highlights