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!
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
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.
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