Today I popped out with fellow local patch blogger Mark P to visit Monkwood Nature Reserve. Monkwood is a cracking area of woodland that is 5 miles NW of Worcester. It is jointly owned by Butterfly Conservation and the Worcestershire Wildlife Trust. Up until a couple of years back the wood held a small colony of Wood White butterflies but unfortunately they have since been lost. It is still an excellent reserve for butterflies and worth a visit all the same.
One of the target species for the visit was White Admiral and we hadn't gone far down the first ride before we encountered one perched on a Dog Rose. We only encountered one more White Admiral on our walk around and that individual was much more flighty. There were large numbers of Ringlet present along the rides and good numbers of Large Skipper, Meadow Brown and Speckled Wood too. We were also treated to brief views of a Painted Lady which I managed to get a quick look at its underwing in my bins before it disappeared off down the ride never to be seen again. A single Comma as also noted.
Day flying moths were also evident with 4 Silver Y noted along one particular ride. Of great interest was 2 cracking looking Blood-vein moths that Mark discovered. Although not uncommon, this was a species that I hadn't seen before.
At the ponds there were 2♂ Broad-bodied Chaser dragonflies chasing about having a right ding dong, no doubt over the single ♀ that was present. Also of interest here was a teneral Common Darter.
From the reserve we walked down the lane to the grassy meadows at Monkwood Green. This area is usually a great place to see good numbers of Marbled White butterflies but, as with so many sites lately, there was no sign. We did however encounter 3 Common Blues and a few more Meadow Browns. There were a few Burnett moths flying around and we noted both Six-spot and Narrow-bordered Five-spot Burnett.
From Monkwood we dropped into the north end of Camp Lane pits at Grimley which is only a couple of miles away. On arrival we were soon treated to cracking views (that lasted for a fair while) of a juvenile Hobby that was up amongst the Swifts. Juvenile Hobbys still have the classic face mask but have browner upper parts and slightly buff underparts with no sign of the classic red trousers.
After the Hobby had flown off into the distance we started walking down the footpath when suddenly we picked up a Red-veined Darter that landed on the path ahead. I managed to get good views of this scarce migrant dragonfly in my bins but wasn't able to get any photos. I was dead chuffed at seeing this individual as I hadn't managed to connect with them when they were discovered there by Brian Stretch a few weeks earlier.
As we walked along the new causeway it became apparent that the place was absolutely teaming with Odonata. There were teneral (newly emerged) Black-tailed Skimmers seemingly everywhere, all perching up to wait for their wings and bodies to fully harden. Also present were good numbers of teneral Common Darters. Needless to say a few photo opportunities presented themselves.
All in all it was an enjoyable day out and a varied selection of wildlife was enjoyed. I really should start thinking about giving Shenstone some coverage again soon who knows what I may have missed...ah well there's always next week.
White Admiral - Monkwood NR
Blood-vein moth - Monkwood NR
Black-tailed Skimmer (immature) - Grimley
Common Darter (immature) - Grimley