Monday, 16 July 2007
Still, it's very rare and very important and I wanted to see one. First stop was some water meadows along the Itchen Navigation just south of Winchester, also home to Golden-ringed dragonfly and both British demoiselles. An hour of mooching about turned up plenty of Banded and Beautiful demoiselles, a Southern hawker, a host of butterflies including Meadow brown, Gatekeeper, Small tortoiseshell and a presumed Silver-washed fritillary, plus shoals of Minnow, a specimen Perch, Graylings and an Eel.
Southern hawker Aeshna cyanea
With no luck on the Southern damselfly front, we headed off to the perhaps the best site for this species - Itchen Valley Country Park. This reserve, nestled on the edge of Eastleigh and right next to the airport is a gem. The Itchen flows through it, and numerous old drowners and ditches criss-cross the meadows, providing superb habitat for aquatic plants and insects.
Within 10 minutes of arriving, having negotiated our way past the hordes of chav families in Southampton FC shirts having noisy barbeques (the undesirable underclass of Britain is all-pervading), we found veritable swarms of blues....Azure, Blue-tailed, Common and Southern. The Southerns are very soon distinguished by their weedy behaviour.
Being a SSSI, and the species being Red-listed, there was no way to get a really good look without breaking the law and catching one of them. However...spider to the rescue!! We managed to find one of the beasties caught in a web, and with some delicate work we were able to deny said spider of a rare meal - I hate spiders anyway so I don't feel too bad.
Southern damselfly Coenagrion mecuriale
With the damsel in hand, we were able to get a good look at the mercury mark on abdomen segment 2. Sorted!
Thursday, 12 July 2007
Problem is I can't seem to find anything on nature reserves/wildlife sites in this area of France...nada, rien, bugger all...can somebody help?
Tuesday, 10 July 2007
Whilst wandering through the woodland, we came across our resident Little owl hiding in an old beech tree...after being scared witless by us, it flew into a nearby tree and tried to look like a Scop's owl.
Butterflies, dragons and wildflowers
Having said that I've done no wildlife watching lately, I have managed to get out and about a few times when it's not been raining...and been rewarded with some fantastic views of some of our more obvious invertebrates. In particular, I've enjoyed watching the breathless antics of Broad-bodied chasers on the pond at work. Since mid-June, these high-octane loons have been zooming around the pond and surrounding woodland, with males undertaking incredible aerial dogfights for first-ups on the one or two females present. The lucky stud then has to do some serious mate-guarding in order that a rival doesn't slip in a crafty one...
Female Broad-bodied chaser Libellula depressa
Marbled whites gettin jiggy widdit.
Gatekeeper on carrot