Broomfleet Washlands & Market Weighton Canal – 14th May 2014

Broomfleet Washlands

Broomfleet Washlands, along with Oxmardyke Marr on the opposite side of Market Weighton Canal, are part of the managed flood relief for the canal. They are designed to hold back water when it is prevented from entering the Humber at high tide. This stretch of the canal carries water from the River Foulness catchment area which enters the canal north of Newport. The Broomfleet area is an important site in Yorkshire as a whole due to the presence of the near threatened Variable Damselfly Coenagrion pulchellum. Broomfleet Washlands is the only publicly accessible site in Yorkshire where Variable Damselfly C. pulchellum can be observed, all other water bodies in this area being strictly private. The Environment Agency have kindly allowed observers to visit this site, under the proviso that they respect the other uses for this area, mainly the grazing of cattle and sheep. For more details on accessing this site please visit the Broomfleet Washlands page on the Yorkshire Branch of the British Dragonfly Society’s website.

Good numbers of Variable Damselfly C. pulchellum were present today. Despite its scarcity in Yorkshire, it is actually the most abundant species present on site, making it difficult to pick out the generally commoner Azure Damselfly Coenagrion puella, which was also present in single figures. Other damselflies present in order of abundance included Blue-tailed Damselfly Ischnura elegans, Large Red Damselfly Pyrrhosoma nymphula, Red-eyed Damselfly Erythromma najas and Common Blue Damselfly Enallagma cyathigerum. The large species are now also starting to make an appearance, with Four-spotted Chaser Libellula quadrimaculata and Hairy Dragonfly Brachytron pratense both being observed. Unfortunately one of the later didn’t get past emergence, as one was found dead on the water with its wings closed, probably having been washed off by the heavy rains of recent days. A good day with eight species observed in total.

Four-spotted Chaser - Libellula quadrimaculataFour-spotted Chaser – Libellula quadrimaculata

Red-eyed Damselfly - Erythromma najasRed-eyed Damselfly – Erythromma najas

Blue-tailed Damselfly - Ischnura elegansBlue-tailed Damselfly – Ischnura elegans

Variable Damselfly - Coenagrion pulchellumVariable Damselfly – Coenagrion pulchellum

Large Red Damselfly - Pyrrhosoma nymphulaLarge Red Damselfly – Pyrrhosoma nymphula

Azure Damselfly - Coenagrion puellaAzure Damselfly – Coenagrion puella

Good to see nine species of butterflies on the wing. Usually thought of as short-lived, some of our hibernating species have now been around for nearly ten months including Brimstone Gonepteryx rhamni, Peacock Inachis io, Small Tortoiseshell Aglais urticae and Comma Polygonia c-album, some individuals now looking very worn. Some of our spring emerging species will now be approaching the end of their first broods, the most notable being Orange-tip Anthocharis cardamines whose flight season is almost over for the year, a second generation of this species being an extremely rare event. Green-veined White Pieris napi, Small White Pieris rapi and Large White Pieris brassicae will all have further broods during the year, though there will be a short period were none of these are on the wing between broods. Speckled Wood Pararge aegeria has become an increasingly common species over the last ten years or so, being multiple brooded it will be present to the end of the season, though may become scarce locally between broods at site level.

Scarce Fungus Weevil Platyrhinus resinosus was again observed at this site, with a pair of Green Tortoise Beetle Cassida rubiginosa being the first time that I’ve come across this species.

Peacock - Inachis ioPeacock – Inachis io

Scarce Fungus Weevil – Platyrhinus resinosusScarce Fungus Weevil – Platyrhinus resinosus

Green Tortoise Beetle - Cassida rubiginosaGreen Tortoise Beetle – Cassida rubiginosa