Cumbrian Discoveries pt1

At last a weeks holiday!  A return visit to Southern Cumbria.  This year we are picking up our daughter Victoria (the Norfolk Lemming) from Manchester Uni a few weeks later, so I hope to see and photograph some new species.  Beautiful weather and on day one we went to Latterbarrow nature reserve.  This is a narrow site on a hill near Witherslack, the vegetation was parched dry due to the very hot summer with few flowers.

High Brown Fritillary at Latterbarrow

Tina spotted a Fritillary whilst I was searching for Northern Brown Argus.  To our great delight it was a High Brown Fritillary (Argynnis adippe) one of the UK’s rarest and most threatened species.  Once widespread in woodlands across Britain it can now only be found on a few limestone hills around the Morecambe Bay,  and at a couple of sites on Exmoor.  The population has crashed by over 90% since 1970!

New species number two, a Black Darter

Absolutely elated.  I noticed a small dragonfly, eventually it settled on a swaying grass head and I reeled off a few shots.  It was a Black Darter (Sympetrum danae).  I have never seen one before.  In Norfolk they only occur at two sites in the west of the County.

Then a really pretty moth, a Mint Moth (Pyrausta aurata)

Mint Moth
Slightly worn but still beautiful, the High Brown Fritillary

Day one a great success!  I have updated the portfolio on my HOME page



Something Local

“Ha yew orl gittin on tha tgether?” Translated from the Norfolk dialect “Everyone ok?”  It seems just lately I’ve been spending an awful lot of time travelling on the potholed, crumbling, congested joke of a road network we have in this country.  But to see new, exciting and rare species that is the price you have to pay.  It’s stressful but you can unwind when you reach your destination.

There is always something to see if you stay local however.  Get out in the garden or just a couple of miles down the road.  Within a few minutes I can visit the Broads, heathland, woods or coast.  Plenty of subjects to point my camera at!  Here is a selection from the last few weeks.

Could have picked a more comfortable resting spot! Hairy Dragonfly (Brachytron pratense) at Hickling Broad, not a species that stays still for long
Aliens have landed! Really pleased to find this at Hickling. It is an exuvia, a discarded shell of a Four Spotted Chaser dragonfly. This species spends at least two years underwater as a larva before emerging to hatch. The adults only live for a few months.
Aliens really have landed! This remarkable looking creature is a Soldier Beetle, just look at those fantastic feet!

Of course my blog wouldn’t be complete without a butterfly (or two).  On a heath just 2 miles from home is a small colony of Silver Studded Blues (Plebejus argus) one of only four colonies in the whole county ( also click on HOME & tab ‘Buxton Heath Blues’)  I had been unable to find these before but struck lucky last Thursday when I discovered a freshly emerged male flying weakly among the heather and gorse.

This stunning male Silver Studded blue is so fresh the wings still have a wet, oily sheen
Sparkling! The underwing of the Silver Studded Blue. The name derives from the small metallic marks in the outer row of black spots
A species I’ve not managed to get a good image of before the Small Heath poses beautifully, not hidden in the grass as usual!

As I write this post I am looking forward to the emergence of the magnificent Purple Emperor, another trip to Northamptonshire!  Then the Summer Nationals at Santa Pod (ditto)  Finally a few days in Cumbria mid-July, but there is always something local.

Hickling Dragons

Marsh Harrier over a hot and hazy Hickling Broad

May 26th 2017.  Today I decided to keep local and pay my first visit of the year to Hickling Broad.  For any visitor to Norfolk ,or if you are local, this is a lovely walk at this time of the year.  I use the Weavers Way footpath on the south side of the Broad.  Starting at Decoy Road and head east to Rush Hills, for a longer walk you can carry on to the River Thurne.

Female Broad Bodied Chaser

There is lots of different wildlife to see along here in late spring especially if you go fairly early in the morning.  The reed beds are alive with the song of Reed and Sedge Warblers, Reed Buntings and the ping of Bearded Tits.  Overhead magnificent Marsh Harriers hunt and today I was lucky to see Common Crane and a dashing Hobby.

Male Hairy Dragonfly

I spent most of my visit watching and photographing dragon and damselflies.  There were lots of Four Spotted Chasers and several Broad Bodied Chasers.  I noticed a few Hairy Dragonflies, a species not that common,  this is the earliest and smallest of the hawkers to emerge, and they rarely settle, the image above is the only shot I managed.

Blue Tail damsels

There were lots of damselflies in certain areas, Azure, Blue Tail and Large Red.  Its great to get images of these delicate creatures, when enlarged the detail is stunning.

I had hoped to see my first Swallowtail butterfly of the year but it was not to be despite the clear blue skies and hot temperatures.

Sedge Warbler at Hickling