Dragonfly and Butterfly Walk 15/07/17

A lovely afternoon of dragonfly, damselfly and butterfly spotting, undeterred by slightly grey skies and a bit of wind.

Led by Sarah Miller (British Dragonfly Society), Ralph Hobbs (Powdermill Trust for Nature Conservation) and Paul Johnson (Warden of Crowhurst Nature Reserve). Because this week is Dragonfly Challenge Week and this month is the Big Butterfly Count, we decided to combine them both.

Insect-life was a bit shy at the outset in Quarry Wood when the weather was the least best, but we did see (and hear) a family of shrews, scurrying back and forth across the path, squealing as they went.

Under the bridge and further down along the railway track, we started to see a good number of butterflies on Buddleia, Hemp Agrimony and Hogweed, including Green-veined White, Red Admiral, Peacock, Meadow Brown and Gatekeeper. Once out onto the newly carved landscape before the footbridge over the road, a meadowy verge showed us a few more butterflies (teeming the day before).

Then we went over the big footbridge and down into Combe Valley by the Powdermill Stream, where we spotted some Damsels and Dragons, including Banded Demoiselle, Beautiful Demoiselle, Blue-tailed and Emerald Damselflies, a Southern Hawker Dragonfly and a Holly Blue Butterfly.

Down and left into the fields, we saw a Kestrel flying high and a Heron flying low, then turned right at the three bridges along the permissive footpath, noting LOTS of Gatekeeper butterflies wherever the brambles stopped the wind. Further along, we saw an Emperor Moth caterpillar, a good few Blue-tailed Damselflies, a patch of Ragwort hosting Cinnabar Moth caterpillars, and then we stopped at Toadflax to look for signs of the Toadflax Brocade Moth caterpillar (none seen).

Back onto the greenway, we saw a Cormorant sunbathing, alongside Black-headed Gulls, Mallards, Crows and a Little Egret. Further up this track, we saw a Clouded Yellow butterfly – quite a few here the previous day when the sun was shining.

Then, we’re back to Powdermill Stream heading to Crowhurst, under the road, and we stopped at a railed-overflow. The day before, this was a great spot for Damselflies and a Marsh Frog; today, slightly less movement. But the verge was alive with Common Blue Butterflies (males only) and one Brown Argus Butterfly.

As we reached the new lake, there were Swans, Greylag Geese, Grebes, ducks and moorhens, and in the distance, the Kestrel dust-bathing on a farm track. Along the path, we saw a Black-tailed Skimmer Dragonfly and a Tortoiseshell butterfly, some more Blue-tailed Damselflies, and a handful of leaping Marsh Frogs. (The previous day, we saw Common Blue Damselflies here.)

Then we stopped at the farm-bridge opposite Croucher’s Farm – a Banded Demoiselle and lots of Mayflies. Emeralds here the day before. This week is the British Dragonfly Society’s Dragonfly Challenge (spotters’ guides downloadable on their website) and the Big Butterfly Count is from now until 6th August (sheets and app on their website). Pick a sunny day and go for a walk.

Here are a few pics from the walk and the day before and day after, when the sun was sunnier and the insects more photogenic (plus a couple of other people’s, used under Creative Commons License, see below for credits).

– Lorna

Woodland Arts Festival 24/09/17 Moth Spotting 07/05/17

Image credits:

Image 10: Blue-tailed damselfly by Sergey Yellseev, used under Creative Commons License 2.0; image 11: Golden ringed dragonfly by Stuart Anthony, used under CC2.0; image 14: Common blue butterfly by Steve Chiltern, used under CC2.0.

All other images: original TQW photography by Lorna Neville