Friday, 23 June 2017

Strumpshaw Fen: Swallowtails, Kites, amazing moths and odonata!

I spent my lunch hour at the Fen today, having decided not to risk another frustrating hunt at Queen's Hills: in the event it was a good decision - I had one of my most enjoyable sessions of the Summer!

I walked the 'reverse circuit', starting at the treatment works: the first dragonfly I came across was my first definite Southern Hawker of the year: I saw two more as I continued round. Further on I found two interesting colour forms of Blue-tailed Damselfly: rufescens, with a reddish thorax, and violacea with a lilac one!

One of the Strump specialities I wanted to photograph was Marsh Pea - a beautiful plant, somewhat reminiscent of a smallish Sweet Pea. I found quite a few on the Boardwalk, where there were lots of Common Lizards being enjoyed by a friendly couple from Leicestershire.

Continuing round I added Scarce Chaser, Black-tailed Skimmer and lots of the expected butterflies. As I reached the junction with Sandy Path, an obliging mint-fresh Swallowtail began nectaring on a variety of flowers: I was pleased to be able to call over several visitors who'd walked right past it! A Whitethroat was very confiding as it fed by the path.

Still no clearwing moths, but the Woodland Trail added White Admiral to the daylist, as well as a dragonfly with dark wing tips: Ade from Bugalert kindly informs this is a female Scarce Chaser. That possibility hadn't occurred to me, because in 30 years at the Fen, I've never seen a SC in the woods! Cheers Adrian! Walking back to reception I picked up two Red Kites by their call, with a further, different individual drifting west over the broad: I had some difficulty persuading the vols and visitors that they weren't Buzzards!

Last night's moth catch had been released at Reception and were dozing on the rush screen: there was a Buff-tip as well as several Poplar Hawk Moths, an Elephant Hawk Moth and an Eyed Hawk Moth: it was great chatting about them with a couple of ex-pat Londoners and their delightful Mum! I thought I recognised them and it turned out that their family business is the Highway Garden Centre on the Beccles Road.

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