Today was Bev's day off and we had been contemplating going for a walk but the weather couldn't seem to make it's mind up as to what it was going to do. In the end we thought "blow it!" and decided to go for a wander anyway. I suggested to Bev either visiting one of the local butterfly reserves and in the end we decided on Monkwood.
During the walk we realised that, despite the dull conditions, many butterflies were still active. During our circuit we observed no fewer than 15 White Admirals. Ringlets and Meadow Browns were both numerous. Large Skippers were now in fewer numbers than my previous visit 9 days ago. Strangely we only saw one Speckled Wood. A single Comma was also noted.
Day-flying moths were also well represented with 6 Silver Y and many Yellow Shell observed during our walk.
The recent wet weather had caused the path at the rear of the reserve to become a quagmire and in places the brook there had burst its banks and flooded. Needless to say after persevering through the sludge for most of the path we took advantage off taking a rather overgrown ride that eventually joined on to the main ride. unfortunately I lifted a large bramble branch out the way and it swung and hit Bev in the face leaving her with a scratched and rather swollen cheek...ooops! I thought I was going to be sleeping in the dog house tonight but she actually laughed about it and said "if we meet anyone else they will think you have been hitting me". Ah well, at least I wouldn't bump into anyone I know or so I thought! I bumped into not one but two separate people actually, first a butterfly enthusiast I know called Lloyd and then later Mark P...whats the chance....doh!
The reserve is also a good place to see Odonata and along one ride we ride we encountered a ♂ Emperor Dragonfly and a ♀ Common Darter. At the ponds there were 3 Broad-bodied Chasers (2♂, 1♀) present. Also of note were Beautiful Demoiselle, Azure and Blue-tailed Damselflies. Bev then called me over to see an interesting looking damselfly that was perched on some vegetation. It was only an Emerald Damselfly, the first I've seen in the county. I knew that they occur here but there was no sign last time. In fact there was only this one today. I texted Mark to let him know as I knew he was on a mission to see Emerald Damselfly at the mo. Little did I know that he was already here to try the ponds for the said species. I had to chuckle when I received a text back letting me know.
The wood was fairly quite in terms of bird activity but we were treated to the calls of a Tawny Owl. A Marsh Tit was also heard calling during the walk.
From the reserve we walked just down the road to the common land known as Monkwood Green. Here there were good numbers of Marbled White butterflies present. We also noted 2♂ Common Blues chasing. As always the green was chuffing with both Six-spot and Narrow-bordered Five-spot Burnet moths.
On the way back home we decided to pop a couple of miles up the road to Camp Lane pits, Grimley. On arrival we were saw an immature Hobby hawking over the north end. This was no surprise considering the sheer numbers of Common Darters that were now present. Black-tailed Skimmers were observed but in much smaller numbers than my last visit. The highlight was again seeing a Red-veined Darter. This time it was posing at rest on the branch of a sapling, I knew this was a good photo opportunity and edged closer. I focused my camera and was just about to get the shot when it flew up to chase off a Common Darter and I couldn't relocate it....another time!
(photo by Bev K)
Emperor Dragonfly (♂)
(poor record shot taken through binoculars)