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Essex Field Club
Essex Field Club
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The weblog below is for naturalists to use to report interesting sightings, ask questions, report on field meetings and generally post pictures and any information or questions generally relevant in some way to the wildlife and geology of Essex. You will need to register and be logged-on to post to the forum, and you need to upload pictures first, for use in posts. Find out more


Wed 7th July 2010 09:24 by Graham Smith
Butterfly & Dragonfly Walk at Blue House
Sunday June 27th : Helped Tim Lawrence, the reserve's assistant warden, with a butterfly & dragonfly walk at Blue House EWT Reserve. The temperature at 10am, when the walk was due to start, was around 28'C and rising - great weather for insects if not their observers! Around a dozen people attended and as Tim had kindly set the moth trap the previous evening we were able to start the day by showing them a range of the more colourful moths including two Elephant Hawk Moths Elephant Hawk Moth Copyright: Graham Smith. Any fears we had about people being bored were dispelled when it took us the best part of an hour to cross the field nearest the farm, there being so much of interest to see. Our walk conincided with a mass emergence of Common Darters, around 40 being counted along the ditch in this first field, all of them brown individuals, either females or immature males. Several Ruddy Darters were also present, again immatures or females. Among the numerous Common Blue and Blue-tailed Damselflies we picked out a few Azures and a dozen Scarce Emerald Damselflies. As the last are lazy insects, prefering to sit on the vegetation rather than fly, we were able to note the often difficult to observe differences between this species and the Common Emerald, half a dozen of which were also present. Other species seen included six Broad-bodied Chasers, which are normally scarce on the reserve, plus its relative, the Four-spotted Chaser; also Emperor Dragonflies patrolling their territories and Black-tailed Skimmers behaving as their name suggests. The walk was rounded off with a single Hairy Dragonfly, a slightly tatty specimen now approaching the end of its breeding period. Among the grassland butterflies, Meadow Brown are having a poor season but Small Heath, Common Blue, Large, Small and Essex Skippers were all present in excellent numbers. My weekly transects have recently produced totals of 380 Meadow Brown (down from a peak of 1000 in 2007 and 780 in 2008), 360 Small/Essex Skippers (10 : 1 in favour of the former), 53 Large Skippers, 99 Common Blues and 179 Small Heaths. On July 1st three Marbled Whites were recorded, a new species for the reserve; remarkbly, four days later one was seen at The Backwarden EWT Reserve, Danbury, another new reserve record, so they are obviously on the move this summer. We eventually ended up in the New Hide, overlooking the flooded fields, where people were able to relax in the welcome shade and enjoy views of young Avocets, Lapwings and Redshank a few feet from where we sat. The walk seemed to go well and all those who attended enjoyed the day. Later that afternoon I returned to the hide and was treated to a spectacular aerial display by two Hobbys, birds that are far better at spotting dragonflies than I am, and which caught and dined upon around two dozen on them in less than twenty minutes!
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