Monday, 14 August 2017

Back at Maple Lodge NR for the annual Summer Open Day

On Sunday I was back at Maple Lodge NR (link to website here) for their annual Summer Open Day. Again my lovely little helper, Stella, and myself were positioned at the infamous Comma Corner to show the escorted visitors just some of the critters that can be found.

However my best find was one that I was unable to share with anyone as it didn't stick around too long. It's one of the hoverflies, but this one is a 'lifer' for me.....the ugly Rhingia rostrata......

You can see that compared to one of our most common hoverflies below,
 that the R.rostrata really is an odd looking hover....
Helophilus pendulus
Before the visitors arrived I had a quick look from the Teal Hide. I didn't even get a chance to open any of the hide windows when I heard a tell-tale bird call and a Kingfisher landed obligingly on the water marker. I just about managed one camera shot through glass before the little beauty flew off again......
hastily snapped Kingfisher from the Teal Hide
 Although the weather stayed fine all day there weren't that many butterflies about at Comma Corner, probably because the bramble flowers have now turned to blackberries and the buddleia is starting to go over. But Stella and I were able to show the visitors some Commas, Red Admirals, Meadow Browns, Gatekeepers, Green-veined White, Large White and Small Tortoiseshell.
Before the visitors arrived I also had a possible Hairstreak species fly over.....


Comma underwing

male Meadow Brown

Small Tortoiseshell

female Gatekeeper
With all of the brambles, nettles and thistles there were plenty of critters to be found and pointed out...
Cinnamon Bug

Black and Yellow Longhorn

Robber Fly

possible Oak Bush Cricket
Dock Bug adult

Common Green Shieldbug 5th instar

Dock Bug instar

Southern Green Shieldbug

Woundwort Shieldbug

Woundwort Shieldbugs
Common Blue damselfly

Common Blue damselfly

Common Darter - female

Common Darter

Common Darter
A very good day as always with plenty of visitors and plenty of photography chances.
But the high-light for me was my first Rhingia rostrata hoverfly.
Stella, as always, thanks for all of your help and extra pair of eyes.

Sunday, 6 August 2017

A mixed bag on a Sunday visit to Cranford Park

I was at Cranford Park at 10am Sunday morning and waited until 10.30 to complete my weekly UKBMS butterfly transect.
Not a great transect today. I expected to see more numbers but made do with 62 butterflies of ten different species during my 95 minute walk.
Todays tally....
62 butterflies / 10 species
Large White x 3
Green-veined White x 7
Small Copper x 1
Holly Blue x 4
Red Admiral x 10
Peacock x 3
Comma x 6
Speckled Wood x 15
Gatekeeper x 3
Meadow Brown x 10
Speckled Wood

Small Copper

Holly Blue

Red Admiral
The fine weather meant there were a few hoverflies around. The most prolific was the Volucella Zonaria and they were dotted all around the park in various habitats and great numbers....
Volucella zonaria

awaiting confirmation of ID

Myathropa florea - male
Just as I was nearing the end of my transect, on a section that runs parallel between the A312 and the River Crane a large dragonfly emerged from the reeds by the stagnant pond and landed right in front of me. It had recently emerged and was still fluttering it's wings drying them off.
It was a lovely male Common Hawker with the most amazing colours....

On the way out of the park I also saw another Common hawker, but it was a way off and quite camouflaged against an old buddleia flower stalk.....

The water level on the river had dropped considerably since last weekend.....
Again the warm wet weather this week provided ideal conditions for some more fruiting fungi. This time I found two very good sized Puffballs, the largest was the size of a football....

In the meadows I found two juvenile Kestrels still loitering and honing their hunting and flying skills...

In Cranford Woods there was the unmistakable call of a Sparrowhawk, followed by several more calls which led me to stand under a dead tree and look up to see this juvenile......

Following it's progress it inadvertently led me to directly to the nest where there were two more juveniles perched in the branches. Sadly trying to get photos were near on impossible but I did manage to witness a food pass between one of the adults and juveniles, and then one of the young perched very briefly out in the open......

before flying off to land in another high tree and start the process of continuous calling all over again.
Apologies for the dreadful photos, I blame the fact I had the wrong lens on my camera.
Last weekend I reported that I had found three chrysalises down the alley way from Roseville Road. I stated they were Small Tortoiseshell when in fact they are Comma. Today I found another two in exactly the same place.
Comma chrysalis - probably due to emerge this week

another Comma chrysalis probably due to emerge this week

empty Comma chrysalis - the butterfly would have emerged within the last six days

remains of a Comma chrysalis that fell victim to a fungal parasite
and my new mystery chrysalis - awaiting identification
So a proper mixed bag from Cranford Park today. Butterflies, hoverflies, hawkers, juvenile birds of prey and fungi. Just what every Country Park should contain.