At Last Some Sunshine

It is a measure of the settled nature of the day that I don’ t have any bird news for today, everything was pretty much as it has been for a few days with no obvious migrants around and all the local birds busying themselves with nesting. Of course that the day was settled and warm really is news, it almost felt like late spring, the sun came out and there were insects about, at last.

There were good numbers of damselflies, in quantity for the first time this year. Large red damsels were the first out and there are a good few nice bright red ones about.

large red damselfly

The bulk of the damsels were azures though, in places in groups of fifty or more, generally the males a bit older than the females, many of which looked as though they may only have emerged this morning.

azure damselfly female

It is the males that are actually azure.

azure damselfly male

The first hours after emergence are a dangerous time, soft wings make flight ponderous and the unhardened body is easy for lots of predators to breach.

maiden flight ends in disaster

There is a good bit of blossom for insects to nectar at, which is essential if they are to maintain their high energy life-style. Hawthorn is visited by some, although not as many as the showy flowers might promise. Near the Centre there is a variety of hawthorn with double, pink flowers, very showy but totally without insects when I looked at it this afternoon.

double pink hawthorn

Personally I would rather have the wild form, which is surely a match for most garden shrubs when in full flower.

hawthorn blossom

Other insect I came across as I locked up the hides were a whole group of craneflies on the outside of the Ivy South hide.

cranefly

On another pice of timber screening I found a wasp, the head and eye shape look like a cartoon version of a wasp.

wasp

Nearby this weevil caught my eye.

weevil

The ferns are also looking great just now, especially between the Ivy North and Ivy South hides with several species to choose from, I think this one is male fern.

male fern

Although not generally as well-regarded as other species, bracken is also a fern and can look quite interesting as the fronds open.

bracken

Although this frond may look as if it is surrendering, globally bracken is believed to be the plant that is spreading the fastest, or at least claiming the most new growing space year on year. It is poisonous to livestock and the dense shade it produces dominates grass growth so it can be very problematic for some grazing economies.

My final picture is of a bee that was prospecting for a nest site on the spoil bank beside the gate to the main car park just as I was locking up, I eventually got a passable picture of it, a very smart beast, I am pretty certain it is Andrena cineraria.

Andrena cineraria

With some warmer nights the moths should also start to pick up, in over thirty years of moth trapping I don’t think I have ever known such a poor season for moths.

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