A very dramatic title but it sums up a lot of observations I have had this week.
As I mentioned in my last post we planned to take our first trip out since ‘lockdown’. Saturday was much sunnier than forecast so we packed a picnic and headed south-west to the furthest part of the County from where we live. The area is called Breckland. The Brecks is a Special Protection Area (SPA) the landscape is one of gorse covered sandy heaths. Rows of Scots Pine act as windbreaks and there are several areas of non-native conifer plantations including Thetford Forest, England’s largest lowland forest. The site we visited was Foulden Common, home to two rare (for Norfolk) butterflies.
The two species are both members of the Skipper family the Grizzled and the Dingy. They are small (1 inch or 25mm wingspan) and fly low and fast to the ground. So with my faithful spotter Mrs H it was eyes down as we quartered the more sheltered areas. We found 1 Grizzled and 4 Dingies before heavy cloud cover came over and with the breeze put a halt to activity.
So on to Sunday and typically the sun stayed out all day, that’s what we call ‘Sods Law’. However I paid a short visit to a pond a few miles away hoping to see a rare dragonfly. No luck on that but it was lovely to just sit and watch the comings and goings. Hundreds of damselflies were emerging all around. Their first weak flights taking them up into the overhanging trees.
Most of the life of a damsel or dragonfly is spent under water. Here the nymphs will live for up to two years, in some species even longer. They are fierce predators. When their time comes they climb from the water and split from the shell or exuvia. Once free they must let the wings dry and harden before attempting flight. Life in adult form is short, maybe just a few weeks as they seek mates to reproduce, sometimes it is even shorter. As is the way of nature there is always someone on the lookout for an easy meal. On Sunday it was a pair of Reed Buntings. Obviously they had a nest of hungry chicks to feed so were making the most of this harvest.
Tuesday and time for a walk by Hickling Broad in lovely weather. Dragonflies were emerging in numbers. Like the damsels their first flight is weak and fluttery. Most of those I saw were the Four-spotted Chasers There were a few Broad-bodied Chasers and several mature Hairy Hawkers.
Like the damselflies on Sunday even the larger dragons can be in danger at this stage of adulthood remember this https://blhphotoblog.wordpress.com/2019/08/04/kiss-of-death/. Today it was not a bigger odonata but something much smaller but no less deadly.
And if all that is making you a bit sad well here is something to cheer you up an Orange-tip, oh yeah you’ve seen these before haven’t you.