A morning visit, mostly overcast with a gentle southerly breeze, temperature reaching 20 degrees. Plenty of Odonata activity around the site with a healthy range of species present at the Dragonfly Ponds. Highlights included my first Ruddy Darter Sympetrum sanguineum and Brown Hawker Aeshna grandis of the year. Black-tailed Skimmer Orthetrum cancellatum are showing well at the newest pond with Emerald Damselfly Lestes sponsa now also starting to appear. Other species present included Common Blue Damselfly Enallagma cyathigerum, Azure Damselfly Coenagrion puella, Blue-tailed Damselfly Ischnura elegans, Emperor Dragonfly Anax imperator, Four-spotted Chaser Libellula quadrimaculata and Common Darter Sympetrum striolatum.
On the lepidoptera front, a nice fresh male Gatekeeper Pyronia tithonus was along Dryham Lane, and at least two Marbled White Melanargia galathea were encountered as I walked the site. A close check of the Small Skipper Thymelicus sylvestris around Far Lake revealed at least two male Essex Skipper Thymelicus lineola in front of the seat overlooking Carp Lake. Other species present included good numbers of Large White Pieris brassicae, Small White Pieris rapi, Red Admiral Vanessa atalanta, Comma Polygonia c-album, Ringlet Aphantopus hyperantus, Meadow Brown Maniola jurtina and a single Speckled Wood Pararge aegeria. Moth wise good numbers of Six-spot Burnet Zygaena filipendulae around Carp Lake, with a couple of Shaded Broad-bar Scotopteryx chenopodiata also noted, along with the ever-present Celypha lacunana.
Marmalade Hoverfly Episyrphus balteatus is abundant at the moment around the reserve, along with Syrphus sp. in lesser numbers. Other ‘Hovers’ included Eristalinus sepulchralis, Eristalis pertinax, Eupeodes sp. and Sphaerophoria sp. Highlight of the flies however goes to Large Marsh Horsefly Tabanus autumnalis found on the gate between Main and Village Lake. This, or other Tabanus sp. were on the benches between Carp and Main Lake, so potentially a bit of an influx. Ian Andrews has confirmed that this is a first for VC61. Several Four-barred Major Oxycera rara were along Dryham Lane with a couple of the photogenic females posing well for the camera. Broad Centurian Chloromyia formosa and Common Green Colonel Oplodontha viridula were also evident along the lane. Several Anthomyia sp. were also present, though not able to get to species.
On the bug front a Blue Shieldbug Zicrona caerulea was present along the Northern Path, still a stunning species even as a nymph. Other bugs recorded included Common Froghopper Philaenus spumarius, Apolygus spinolae, Plagiognathus arbustorum and Deraeocoris ruber.
Many of the Grasshopper nymphs are now emerging as adults, Field Grasshopper Chorthippus brunneus one of the first photographed this year. Also good numbers of Speckled Bush-cricket Leptophyes punctatissima along the lane and around Carp lake.
Harlequin Ladybird Harmonia axyridis numbers have massively increased this year, easily found around the site, with plenty of adults still to emerge from the numerous pupae to be found. 7-spot Ladybird Harmonia axyridis equally as numerous, and again, good to find at least three 2-spot Ladybird Adalia bipunctata on thistles around the Dragonfly Ponds. 22-spot Ladybird Psyllobora vigintiduopunctata and a single Golden-bloomed Longhorn Beetle Agapanthia villosoviridescens were found along Dryham Lane.
Other miscellany included a few of the tricky hymenoptera. A Chalcid Wasp Chalcididae speices, of which there are over 1600 species in Britain and Ireland, was along the lane along with Ruby-tailed Wasp Chrysis ignita sensu lato, another that needs microscopic identification. A nice Tenthredo sp. another one not doable from photos.
Finally, rare for a mammal to get a mention, even rarer for two. A Mink Neovison vison crossed the western path carrying something it had caught, a destructive non-native species that does some serious damage to the local wildlife. The other species was a showy Stoat Mustela erminea along the eastern path near East Hide.
Full set of photos from this visit can be found on my Flickr site.