Allerthorpe Common – 19/09/12

With the strong north-westerly winds still persisting, I headed for a woodland site in the hope that there would be plenty of shelter from the chilling winds. Unfortunately when I arrived there had been little sun and the wind was being funnelled down the woodland glades. Despite this I headed for the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust Reserve in the hope that there would be a few ‘darters’ to photograph around the heathland pond.

Heathland Pond

Heathland Pond

On first arrival there was very little activity, though fortunately the sun shortly came through, with several species immediately reacting to its warming rays. The most numerous species was Common Darter Sympetrum striolatum, though only just making double figures. It was quite amazing how quickly the males sought out females, with a couple of pairs already ovipositing within minutes of the sun appearing. A couple of male Black Darters Sympetrum danae also arrived around the pond, though no females appeared to be present. The only other species encountered at the pond were a few Emerald Damselflies Lestes sponsa, all males, mainly perched around the edge. Away from the pond two Ruddy Darters Sympetrum sanguineum were found sheltering among the Gorse bushes. It wasn’t until I was wandering back to the car that a couple of Migrant Hawkers Aeshna mixta made an appearance, favouring a very sheltered spot to ‘hawk’.

Common Darter - Sympetrum striolatum

Common Darter – Sympetrum striolatum

y Darter - Sympetrum sanguineum

Ruddy Darter – Sympetrum sanguineum

Black Darter - Sympetrum danae

Black Darter – Sympetrum danae

The strong cool wind had an adverse effect on the number of butterflies observed. Allerthorpe is a good place to encounter Brimstones Gonepteryx rhamni, though on this occasion only a single female was seen flying through. The only other species picked out were two Speckled Woods Pararge aegeria and a single Small Copper Lycaena phlaeas.

The lack of butterflies was made up for by a few other invertebrates to look at. A few grasshopper species were present, including Meadow Grasshopper Chorthippus parallelus and Field Grasshopper Chorthippus brunneus, both posing nicely for the few minutes of fame.

Meadow Grasshopper - Chorthippus parallelus

Meadow Grasshopper – Chorthippus parallelus

Field Grasshopper - Chorthippus brunneus

Field Grasshopper – Chorthippus brunneus

The main interest ended up being several ‘shieldbug’ species. Autumn is the time that the adults become more obvious, and four different species were observed. Birch Shieldbug Elasmostethus interstinctus was the first insect I encountered as I entered the woodland, however it was around the heathland pond that the others were observed. Spiked Shieldbug Picromerus bidens was a new species for me and wasn’t identified until I’d had chance to study the photos back at home. Gorse Shieldbug Piezodorus lituratus was also found, along with Common Green Shieldbug Palomena prasina, in both adult and larval nymph form.

Spiked Shieldbug - Picromerus bidens

Spiked Shieldbug – Picromerus bidens

Gorse Shieldbug - Piezodorus lituratus

Gorse Shieldbug – Piezodorus lituratus

Green Shieldbug - Palomena prasina

Green Shieldbug – Palomena prasina

Green Shieldbug - Palomena prasina (nymph)

Green Shieldbug – Palomena prasina (nymph)