1st & 8th July 2013 - Shenstone

Right time to get past my "bloggers block" and write another post....

Monday 1st July:
I decided to pay an evening visit to the patch today in the hope of hearing a Quail singing from one of the cereal fields.  Its been 2 years since the last Quail at Shenstone so I was hoping that this year would see the return of this migrant gamebird.  Alas, I didn't hear one at all but the evening was pleasant all the same.

Along Heath Lane Corn Buntings, Yellowhammers, Common Whitethroats, Linnets and Dunnocks were perched up singing in the evening sun.  It made me realize just how special summer evenings can be on the patch.

Common Whitethroat

Monday 8th July:
Today I decided to concentrate on the Stanklyn Lane area of the patch and check out the set-aside in the pylon field.  I started off by walking across the gallops field, which much to my dismay the grass had been cut in the area where a number of pairs of Skylark nest...usually they do not do this here until late summer!  I really hope none were still nesting.  In fact the RSPB's guidance to farmers is to "leave the annual cut as late as possible, and not before August to prolong the nesting season"

Anyway, my mood began to improve on reaching the pylon field and seeing the set-aside in all its glory.  The Greater Knapweed and Ox-eye Daisies looked particularly splendid.  As you would expect the area was positively chuffing with bees, butterflies and moths but the undoubted highlight came in the form of a Black-tailed Skimmer dragonfly, which is a new species for me on the patch.

Also present were good numbers of Meadow Brown & Ringlet butterflies and Six-spot Burnet moths.  Both a single Small Skipper and single Small Tortoiseshell were also noted.  Somewhat worryingly there wasn't any sign of Common Blue butterfly!

I then headed across to Butts Lane where the young Swallows had now fledged and 6 of them could be seen perching up on the telephone wires.  It's always uplifting seeing successful breeding so I finished the visit a happier man.

Black-tailed Skimmer (♀)

Small Tortoiseshell

Small Skipper

Six-spot Burnet

Swallow (juvenile)

Hildditch Days....part one

As some of you may or may not be aware I have been having on going problems with an knee injury which has had a big impact on the amount of on/off patch walks I have been able to undertake over the past few months.  That said the 'invert' season is now in full flow and I have spent a far amount of time monitoring/recording them at a site near Hartlebury where not great deal of distance needs to be walked and to be honest I have enjoyed the change of scene.

Hillditch Pool is a narrow almost river like pool that is bordered by Phragmites (Common Reed to you and I) and has areas that are covered with Lily Pads.  The site is owned by Worcestershire County Council and is in close proximity to Hartlebury Common. A public footpath runs along the side of the pool making it ideal for viewing dragonflies and damselflies. 

Hillditch is a site that I have visited on/off for a few years now and on one visit last year I discovered some freshly emerged Scarce Chasers.  Through out the season myself and others including Mike Averill (the county dragonfly recorder) monitored them and observed mating activity.  So it remained to be seen if  they were to be present/emerge in 2013.  I am happy to say that they did and the first newly emerged ones were recorded on 10th June by both Mike A (http://dragonfliesofworcestershire.weebly.com/) and fellow wildlife blogger Mark P (http://doorstepbirding.blogspot.co.uk/)

Anyway,  enough of the back story & on with the post....

6th May 2013:
A single teneral Large Red Damselfly was recorded at Hillditch today.  Also of interest was a Slow Worm basking on the track near the top pool.  A Common Frog was also present at the pool's edge.

Common Frog (Rana temporaria)

19th May 2013:
Things were generally quite at Hillditch on this visit and the only Odonata recorded were small numbers of Large Red Damselflies.  Also of interest was a cracking little metallic looking  micro moth called Micropterix calthella

Large Red Damselfly (Pyrrhosoma nymphula)

Micropterix calthella

25th May 2013:
On today's visit it was noticeable that there had been quite an increase in the number of Large Red Damselflies at the site.  Small numbers of teneral Azure Damselflies were also present.  The day's highlight though was seeing a young Pike, of about 6 inches in length,  basking between the lily pads.  Also of interest today was a single 14-spot Ladybird and a number of Bloody-nosed Beetle Larvae. Butterflies were in good numbers with 1 ♂ Brimstone, 1 Large White, 1 ♂ Orange Tip, 2 Peacocks, 3 Small Tortoiseshell noted

♀ Azure Damselfly (Coenagrion puella)

Pike (Esox lucius)

Bloody-nosed Beetle (Timarcha tenebricosa) larva

8th June 2013:
Numbers of damselflies present have now increased significantly at Hillditch with Banded Demoiselle, Beautiful Demoiselle and Red-eyed Damselfly now on the wing.  There was no sign of any 'true dragonflies' however. 

Banded Demoiselle (Calopteryx splendens)



Red-eyed Damselfly (Erythromma najas)

To be continued.....