Monday 31 August 2020

Sutton Park - Red-backed Shrike!!

I've seen quite a few juv Red-backed Shrike over the years but only one adult male and that was back in 2008! The West Midlands produced a cracking  male on Saturday My first chance to get over to Sutton Coldfield came on the Bank Holiday Monday with Dave Chapman and whilst the sun didn't shine, at least the shrike was showing well, busy catching insects all morning! 

Another Bee bites the dust but Beetles and Moths seem to have been the main quarry...

A bit of weak sunshine, helped during the early part of the morning...

At least there were one of two chances for flight shots!

And just before 'siesta' time, a prolonged perch in the nearest bush to the path...

We had a great (albeit frustrating) day and it's great to be back amongst the birds plus a few West familiar faces!

Saturday 29 August 2020

Venus Pool - aberrant femaleCommon Blue!!

There was nothing much going on at Venus Pool! Given the freezing wind 90% of the butterflies were hunkered down so they were there for the taking once found? This striking female Common Blue, looked for all the world from a distance like a male in colouration but turned out to be bluest of blue I've ever seen!

Sadly it flew moments after taking this image so I never got to see the underwing...

I did a bit of digging on the UK Butterflies site and it's a ringer for the caeruleomarginata aberration. Whatever, it was runner up for of the day!

Venus Pool - Common Hawker!!

Here's the insect of the day! I'd just finished photographing the best looking female Common Blue butterfly I've seen when I became aware of a Hawker dragonfly perched up nicely near to the arable field entrance. I joined the mini gallery and my mind was racing - soooo blue and right timing for Migrant, but...? The 'golf tee' was missing from the thorax. It couldn't be a Southern Hawker Hawker either and noticing the brown leading edge to the wings, I realised it had to be a male Common Hawker!!

These are notoriously difficult to photograph perched, plus what the heck was one doing at Venus Pool?! It's the first one I've ever seen / photographed here. Looking somewhat cool in this relaxed pose... The bright yellow costa (leading edge to the wings) in all the images, is bright yellow against clean wings and this is diagnostic.

I angled the camera to correct. This shouldn't be at VP, the habitat is not to their liking but they do disperse over a large area from their breeding site!

And those gorgeous blue eyes!

Seen in side view, the yellow costa is even more evident...

Even better in close up!

Thanks for the 'heads up' Brian!

Checked my list and this is species No 20 that I've seen at VP reserve and that includes Black Darter, another acid bog specialist which shouldn't have turned up either! You little stunner!

Wednesday 26 August 2020

Dudmaston - Small red-eyed Damselfly up close

I'd booked a second visit to Dudmaston, just in case! Given more good weather, I was hoping for more insects and maybe some close ups away from the water of Small Red-eyed Damselfly? I certainly managed the latter, here's some of the highlights...

Starting those aptly named 'tomato red' eyes!

This male just warming up for the acrobatics by doing a handstand?

Then a nice clean background for some portraits...

Had to be a close up to finish?

It's hard to imagine that this species has only been detected as resident in the county for the past two years. If Dudmaston is anything to go by and there are other locations, the future looks assured :-)

Dudmaston - Dark Bush Cricket

Every Cricket I've found / seen these past two months has been accidental and today's newbie followed this familiar pattern. I saw some movement out of the corner of my eye and....

Dark Bush Cricket!! What a beast, sporting enough armour to put a tank to shame!

Whilst the body has an indestructible feel to it, the same can't be said for the antennae with one half missing!

I wonder which species lady luck will deliver next?

Monday 24 August 2020

Dudmaston - Small Red-eyed Damselfly action!

I sensed that my earlier visits to Dudmaston were a little premature as Small Red-eyed Damselflies get into their stride as 'Red-eyed' are on the way out?  Today's visit was a good move as there were plenty on show and even better, they were showing rather well with one thing on their mind!

Let's get the male pose out of the way and then action all the way!

First find your partner...

Eggs are finally laid...

And with the sun shining for a change, a chance for reflections?

I don't know what to make of these few group shots, more like a frenzied orgy with unattached males just waiting for their chance? Up to eight individuals on this lily stem (with confusing reflections!)

This shows the romantic 'caveman style' just drag her along whilst a few eggs are unloaded?

With females disappearing from the lake at a rate of knots once they are let go from mating, the best chance of studying female colour patterns was by a judicious crop! The base colour starts off yellow green in youngsters, developing via green to blue. This is a young female!

While this one is progressing nicely developing a lot of blue! I suspect there are no really mature forms about at this stage of development.

Waiting room... there's always a male standing by in case the female becomes 'available'!

Monday 17 August 2020

Dudmaston - Small Red-eyed Damselfly

 I had already managed to see and get record shots of Shropshire's latest addition to the Odonata list, Small Red-eyed Damselfly!

Here's the first images from 10th August, it's very easy to pick them out once you get your eye in! Clearly smaller and with much more blue showing on the flanks at both ends of the abdomen

Closer shots of Red-eyed Damselfly were managed as well today ...

Loving the above raindrops!

Oh those eyes!!

Seen here mating with a Common Blue Damsel keeping tabs!

And more males chasing after the lucky female!

Here we go with the first Small Red-eyed Damsel. A bit nearer than the last visit but that was about to be eclipsed!

Shame this one has a bit of distortion of one wing but I didn't even notice it until reviewing the shots!

You can just about see the small x on segment 10, another useful identifying mark!

Here's one solution to the offending wing, a closer crop! Plus another indicator of the identity, the Coenagrion spur on the thorax is shortened with an obvious dot adjacent in male Red-eyed. You have to exercise caution using this marker as Red-eyed often show a similar pattern!

I was really looking forward to finding more individuals but mother nature stepped in with the forecast rumbles of thunder. Destined to be torrential for the next couple of hours, I headed home...

Saturday 15 August 2020

Aston Locks - Slender Groundhopper

I've been working my way through all the species of Orthoptera found in Shropshire and Groundhoppers have been a source of frustration. They are so small and by the time their nymphs (not to mention other grasshoppers) have been eliminated, all the effort amounts to nothing!

So whilst this little chap is a Groundhopper, it 'could ' be Common or Slender!

No doubt about this one below though, a Slender Groundhopper and possibly my most difficult target, an adult with vestigial forewings! The long wings and pronotum clearly extend beyond the tip of the abdomen for an easy ID...

So, just Common Groundhopper, Dark Bush / Bog Cricket and Lesser Marsh Grasshopper to go for the life list plus Oak Bush Cricket for this year?