Over the last couple of years Skipwith Common has not been good for dragonflies, due to most of the site drying out, so it was with some trepidation that my father and I headed to this location to see what we could find. It was good to see healthy levels of water in the ponds, with plenty of odonata activity observed. Large Red Damselflies Pyrrhosoma nymphula were still present here, when elsewhere their season has already finished. Good numbers of the commoner damselflies were present including, Azure Damselfly Coenagrion puella, Common Blue Damselfly Enallagma cyathigerum and Blue-tailed Damselfly Ischnura elegans. In addition Emerald Damselfly Lestes sponsa were abundant around the ponds. Some of the darter species are starting to emerge, though late compared to previous years, these included Ruddy Darter Sympetrum sanguineum and Black Darter Sympetrum danae. Four-spotted Chasers Libellula quadrimaculata were obvious around the ponds, with plenty of territorial activity observed. Black-tailed Skimmers Orthetrum cancellatum were present in good numbers, with one male photographed showing plenty of blue pruinessence missing from its abdomen, this being rubbed off by the females holding on during mating, and indicating he’s had a good breeding season. A single Broad-bodied Chaser Orthetrum cancellatum was also active over one of the ponds. Several male Emperor Dragonflies Anax imperator were patrolling over the ponds, and later, on the heath, a single female was found. Lastly a male Common Hawker Aeshna juncea was found on the heathland, nice to see, as they have really suffered here over the last few years.
On the butterfly front, Large Skippers Ochlodes venatus were everywhere and easily the most abundant species on site. Lesser numbers of Meadow Browns Maniola jurtina and Ringlets Aphantopus hyperantus were observed, as well as a few Speckled Woods Pararge aegeria. Green-veined Whites Pieris napi of the second generation are now starting to appear, along with a single Small Tortoiseshell Aglais urticae and Comma Polygonia c-album.
Several other invertebrates were photographed as seen below. However one of the highlights was seeing all three reptile species that occur here with Common Lizard Lacerta vivipara, Grass Snake Natrix natrix and Adder Vipera berus all seen well. As we walked back to the car two Woodlarks Lullula arborea kept flying just ahead of us along the central footpath, a species that has recently colonised the area.