North Cliffe Wood – 10/08/12

A return to a local site for some more insect photography, this time with a healthy application of insect repellent! Bit of a contradiction, but it had the desired effect of keeping away the “Mossies” and Cleg Flies. Sunnier conditions than my previous visit meant that the larger odonata species were flying in the favourable conditions. It was good to see Migrant Hawkers Aeshna mixta  in double figures, possibly an indication of incoming migrants from the continent. Also present were a couple of Southern Hawkers Aeshna cyanea found hunting along the western boundary footpath. It was good to see some other heathland species making an appearance on this visit, with at least two Common Hawkers Aeshna juncea patrolling along the eastern boundary of the heath. A nice surprise was several Ruddy Darters Sympetrum sanguineum now obvious, along with the real heathland specialist Black Darter Sympetrum danae, with two males staking out territories around the edge of the pond. Common Darters Sympetrum striolatum made up the trio of “darters” being our most widespread species of this group. Azure Damselflies Coenagrion puella are having an extended season, it generally being hard to find this species in August, though one was still hanging on here. Blue-tailed Damselflies Ischnura elegans have also dropped in numbers with only a couple observed, though Common Blue Damselflies Enallagma cyathigerum were still easily to find. The most abundant species, this year at least, has been Emerald Damselfly Lestes sponsa, still present in three figures. They can survive their ponds drying out during the summer, as they lay their eggs (Oviposit) in plant stems above water level. Their strategy relies on the ponds filling back up during the winter, the eggs then hatching in spring, with the larvae developing quickly, before emerging as adults and starting the process again. With the amount of recent rain fall and full ponds means this strategy has worked well for them, being abundant at many suitable locations this year.

Emerald Damselfly - Lestes sponsa

Emerald Damselfly – Lestes sponsa

Common Blue Damselfly - Enallagma cyathigerum

Common Blue Damselfly – Enallagma cyathigerum

Black Darter - Sympetrum danae

Black Darter – Sympetrum danae

Ruddy Darter - Sympetrum sanguineum

Ruddy Darter – Sympetrum sanguineum

Common Darter - Sympetrum striolatum

Common Darter – Sympetrum striolatum

Small Coppers Lycaena phlaeas are now fairly abundant at this site along with Gatekeepers Pyronia tithonus, however the best was saved till last. I was just about to leave the site when a smallish butterfly flew past me, which I couldn’t identify in flight. I followed its flight path where it eventually landed low down on an oak tree, at this point I realised it was a Purple Hairstreak Neozephyrus quercus. Unfortunately I only manage to get one quick shot and not of the standard I like to share on this blog. It was joined by a second individual, both flying around the top of the oak, their usual behaviour, which makes them extremely difficult to photograph. After a few minutes they both disappeared and despite waiting for some time, they never showed themselves again. Other species present included Green-veined White Pieris napi, Large White Pieris brassicae, Comma Polygonia c-album, Small Skipper Thymelicus sylvestris, Speckled Wood Pararge aegeria, Meadow Brown Maniola jurtina and Ringlet Aphantopus hyperantus, the latter now in rapid decline as their season starts to draw to a close.

Green-veined White - Pieris napi

Green-veined White – Pieris napi

Small Copper - Lycaena phlaeas

Small Copper – Lycaena phlaeas

Comma - Polygonia c-album

Comma – Polygonia c-album

Gatekeeper - Pyronia tithonus

Gatekeeper – Pyronia tithonus

Ringlet - Aphantopus hyperantus

Ringlet – Aphantopus hyperantus

There seemed to be fewer hoverflies present on this occasion, though the best photographs I managed are shared below. A couple of flies caught my attention, Dexiosoma caninum being quite numerous, though a species I so far haven’t found anywhere else, despite it being quite striking. The second was a pair of Thick-head Flies, at the time I took the photograph I hadn’t realised it was a copulating pair. The last photo is a Field Grasshopper, which posed well against a pleasing background. All in all, a good couple of hours spent at this site.

Hoverfly - Helophilus pendulus

Hoverfly – Helophilus pendulus

Hoverfly - Eristalis intricarius

Hoverfly – Eristalis intricarius

Hoverfly - Eristalis tenax

Hoverfly – Eristalis tenax

Dexiosoma caninum

Dexiosoma caninum

Thick-head Fly - Conops quadrifasciatus

Thick-head Fly – Conops quadrifasciatus

Field Grasshopper - Chorthippus brunneus

Field Grasshopper – Chorthippus brunneus