"To see a world in a grain of sand,
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand
And eternity in an hour."

From "Auguries of Innocence"

by William Blake

Friday, 1 August 2014

Quick Visit to Marsh Lane NR

Time does fly - I realised recently how few visits I have made to Marsh Lane NR in recent months. So I popped along to the Reserve for an hour on Wednesday afternoon - it was rather hot there!! Bird-wise, as is often the case at this time of year, it was very quiet but there were loads of insects around.

I saw several male Black-tailed Skimmer Dragonflies (Orthetrum cancellatum). Its hard to get photos of dragonflies as they never seem to keep still. This one kept darting ahead of me on the path and I eventually got close enough to get a photo - the dragonfly is quite well camouflaged against the path.

There were dozens of Common Blue Damselflies (Enallagma cyathigerum) wherever I walked.

Common Blue can be recognised from other blue damselflies by their broad antehumeral stripes and the absence of a Coenagrion spur on the side of the thorax. Segment 2 of the abdomen has a black mark which resembles a golfball perched on a tee.

I thought this hoverfly was probably a Long Hoverfly (Sphaerophoria scripta)which is a species where the abdomen is longer than the wings but when I put a photo on i-spot for confirmation I was told it wasn't possible to be certain as you can't tell definitely from the photo that the wings are shorter than the abdomen. At the moment I am using a little Pocket Guide to Hoverflies which was given away years ago in BBC Wildlife Magazine - it is very useful and quite detailed but I am feeling very tempted at the moment to buy a larger Hoverfly ID book - there seem to be so many species of hoverfly everywhere this year.

Butterflies were fluttering around everywhere I looked although most of the ones I could get photos of were rather worn and tatty!




Meadow Brown

Surprisingly, I didn't see any Skipper butterflies although from reading the Marsh Lane Annual Report and newsletters it looks as though the area near what is known as the "old Concrete Road" is best for Skippers. I did think of wandering along in that direction but its in the part of the reserve that is not behind locked gates and someone appeared to be flying a remote-controlled aeroplane (not the best of ideas on a nature reserve!!) there so I decided to stay away.

Plants in flower along the path included Meadowsweet, Purple Loosestrife, Thistles, Knapweed, various members of the Umbellifer family, Vetches and Trefoils and lots of

Self Heal

Common Carder Bee (Bombus pascuorum)

Honey Bee (Apis mellifera)

I did spend a few minutes in Oak Hide - and as I opened the hatch there in front of me (close enough for once to fill the camera viewfinder!!) was a Grey Heron. Of course by the time I'd got the autofocus to lock onto the bird - it was already flying away!

Tapered Drone Fly (Eristalis pertinax) - I thought I'd got the id of this one nailed thanks to Twitter until - i-spot suggested it was best to get a view of the face and front pair of legs to get it to species level!!! :( To be honest its hard enough to get a photo sometimes of a hoverfly let alone getting pictures of all its anatomy!

Dead Head Fly (Myathropa florea)

Lots of male Common Blue Butterflies were dancing around amongst grasses - strangely enough not a female in sight. I spent ages chasing them around trying to get a photo and eventually managed a record shot

As I was taking the above photo a large Grasshopper suddenly leaped onto a nearby grass stalk - I don't think the photo is clear enough to manage an id and the best I can find is possibly a Field Grasshopper

Many thanks to Matthew, Gary, Duncan and Kingfisher for hoverfly id help (apologies if I've missed anyone out) and i-spot.


Countryside Tales said...

Hoverflies are a minefield - nearly as bad as micro moths I reckon :-) Have been looking at them here this summer too and am also tempted to splash out on a decent id guide. I think your pics of them are great- they are hard to photograph at the best of times so you did well getting them in focus and capturing more of the body than I manage :-)
I was watching a dragon through my new bins yesterday thinking 'if only the camera had that close-up focus capacity' -pics would be a doddle then!
PS- Saw my first blue flutter in our garden today, a common blue yipee! CT :-)

amanda peters said...

Lovely set of photos, you blue butterfly looks like its made from tissue paper like that photo, still haven't managed to see one this year. Can't believe how quick the days and months are moving on this year, not been to as many places I would have liked..
Amanda xx

John Wooldridge said...

Great pics Robin, as always.....the poor Peacock looks just about knackered!

Ragged Robin said...

Countryside Tales - Thanks. Yes, as bad as micro's :( I used the 70-300 lens but its very hit and miss and very hard to get the autofocus to lock on something so small. Some of the small hoverflies in the garden I just can't get photos of and so fail to even attempt id.

Well done on the garden Common Blue - never seen one in the garden here just get Holly Blues.

Amanda Peters - Thank you - hope you get to see a Common Blue soon.

Same here re: visiting places :( So many new reserves and gardens I planned to visit and go to others more regularly but now its August and I just haven't had the time :(

John Wooldridge - Thanks so much John. Yes, poor Peacock - seems to have escaped several predators and lost parts of wings every time!

Em Parkinson said...

Wonderful pics but the hover flies are my favourites. So many about at the moment.

Ragged Robin said...

Em Parkinson - Many thanks. Yes, it does seem a really good year for hoverflies :)

SeagullSuzie said...

How lovely to take a walk with you and see your findings. I'm totally rubbish at id's of insects at the moment, so it's great to see yours.

Ragged Robin said...

SeagullSuzie - Thanks so much. I'm not very good at insect id to be honest although trying very hard to id each species this year as I find it. I did get a lot of help with the hoverfly id too :)