With temperatures forecast to be high I headed over to Tophill Low with my father, to meet up and spend the day with Martin and Doug. As always my key interest was with the dragonfly species, with Southern Hawker Aeshna cyanea topping the bill. 58 exuviae (larval skins) were found in the small South Marsh West sump, adding in last weeks exuviae count by Martin and Doug shows that 79 have emerged over the last two weeks, only one observed making its maiden flight on this occasion. Most of these will probably not be seen for several weeks, as they mature away from water before returning to breed. As we wandered around the full site we only came across a handful of adults. The first Ruddy Darter Sympetrum sanguineum of the year was found settled in reeds around ‘D’ Wood Pond, where activity seemed to be a little subdued in the afternoon heat, even some of the insects don’t like it to hot. Other recent emergents include a small number of Emerald Damselfies Lestes sponsa. One their way out were a few Large Red Damselflies Pyrrhosoma nymphula, coming to the end of their season at Tophill Low. This species usually emerges en-mass, with the best counts usually made in the first couple of weeks. Emergence dates can vary by site, so they may still be abundant elsewhere, with those emerging later, up on the North Yorkshire Moors for example, lasting well in to August. To complete the Odonata list the following species were also observed; Red-eyed Damselfly Erythromma najas, Blue-tailed Damselfly Ischnura elegans, Azure Damselfly Coenagrion puella, Common Blue Damselfly Enallagma cyathigerum, Four-spotted Chaser Libellula quadrimaculata (one being of the praenublia form), Broad-bodied Chaser Libellula depressa and Black-tailed Skimmer Orthetrum cancellatum.
Nice to see a few of the summer butterfly species finally on the wing, with plenty of Ringlets Aphantopus hyperantus and Meadow Browns Maniola jurtina observed, both very active in the warm conditions. In addition several Large Skippers Ochlodes venatus were observed, and later in the day two Commas Polygonia c-album from the first brood were also seen. Those seen earlier in the spring would have been adults that had hibernated through the winter, with these later two being the result of their breeding success. There were small numbers of Large White Pieris brassicae around the site, with single specimens of Common Blue Polyommatus icarus and Peacock Inachis io present. A bit of a surprise was a male Orange-tip Anthocharis cardamines still flying, this being a late individual, one of the results of the late spring. Finally several Speckled Woods Pararge aegeria were active in the dappled shade of the woodlands. To finish off with lepidoptera, I photographed a couple of intricately marked moth species as seen below, out of over seventy species caught in the moths traps overnight. More on the moth highlights can be found on Martin’s blog.
After this point accuracy of identification can’t be guaranteed, so please treat my identifications with caution, and please feel free to pass comment as seen fit.
Next on the agenda were the beetles, having got to grips with the macro set-up, it was nice to obtain some good photos of several species during the day. First up was the Figwort Weevil Cionus scrophulariae, which proved difficult to get in focus on my last visit, a much better result obtained this time round. Another species worth a mention was Donacia vulgaris. The photograph obtained on my last visit was mistakenly identified as this species, but was re-identified by Doug as Plateumaris discolor, so it was good to get a photo of the correct species this time round, and see the difference between the two. It was also nice to see some darker individuals of the later species, which can be quite variable in colour. Another new species for me was a pair of copulating Water Ladybird Anisosticta novemdecimpunctata, and only recently confirmed as being present on site, despite being suspected for several years. One of the ‘longhorn’ species showed well in the form of Rutpela maculata, quite a striking individual. In addition one of the burying beetles was also photographed Nicrophorus vespilloides, this species being attracted to light and regularly caught in the moth trap, as was the case with this individual.
Finally the last set of photographs shows some of the ‘True Bugs’ encountered around the site, along with a Springtail Pogonognathellus longicornis, not easily identified but the overall size and length of the antennae make it possible in this case. Last up was a Great Crested Newt Triturus cristatus, found lazily swimming at the surface, soaking up some of that rare commodity, sun!