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Friday, 28 June 2019

Wood Sandpiper and Lesser Emperor

It's been good to spend a bit more time out today, and I'll start with the birds.  A mid morning visit to Black Hole Marsh was timed exceedingly well, as Ian Mc had just found a Wood Sand...

Wood Sand and two Dunlin

Not just any old Wood Sand - a breeding plumaged adult!

Remained distant so was a good test for the P900


I've had a look back through my blog and notes, and am pretty sure this is my first every June Wood Sand on the Axe.  We don't usually see the first returning autumn ones until mid July at the earliest, and all spring birds have been in April and May.  Not only is it the earliest, but it's the least worn adult I've seen too - still in pretty much full breeding plumage. So so different to the pale brown juvs we see in August, nice.

Also on Black Hole Marsh were numerous Black-tailed Godwit and Redshank (one juvenile), two Dunlin, three Teal and a Green Sandpiper. A little later Sue Smith also had a Little Ringed Plover and a Greenshank - autumn seems to be starting early this year.  Although saying that, many of the Black-tailed Godwits and Redshank never actually left us!

A Black-tailed Godwit looking like this can surely only be an adult, so why not even bother going north?


A little later an enjoyable tram ride showed additions in the form of a Greylag Goose on the Estuary and a Lesser Whitethroat singing at the north end of Colyford Common.

I also found time for some dragonflying this afternoon, which was nice because during the last month weather and work has not allowed for much of this.  I spent an hour and a half at Lower Bruckland Ponds dreaming of finding a Vagrant Emperor (been an influx of these to the east coast), so when I spotted a mostly brown Emperor with blue restricted to segment two I thought I'd only gone and done it....but not quite!  I soon realised it was a male Lesser Emperor, still a cracking insect and a really exciting find, but I can't help by feeling just a little short-changed!

Male Lesser Emperor Lower Bruckland Ponds


This is the fourth male Lesser Emperor I've found here (16th July 2006, 10th Aug 2012 and 19th June 2017) but easily the most enjoyable, because it was actually showing well. Hence why for the first time I actually managed to get photographs!  The other three were all brief flybys with Emperors in hot pursuit, but this one seemed to have found its own territory and spent the half-hour I was there patrolling - I even watched it fly up and pluck a Common Blue out of the air before feasting on it.  Amazing!  

Male Lesser Emperor again - showing blue on side of seg 2 (unlike Vagrant Emperor)

Out of focus but still so recognisable!


Other Odonta on show included my first couple of Small Red-eyed Damselflies of the year, at least 16 Scarce Chaser (one female), eight Four-spotted Chasers and excellent numbers of the other usual species.  This is such a great dragonfly site.

Now I know I have posted plenty of Scarce Chaser photos on this blog before, but as they are one of my favourites I just can't help but post a few more...

Scarce Chaser male

Scarce Chaser male from underneath

Scarce Chaser mating pair


What a top late summer day! 

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