A walk to the lakes

Coot in Pursuit - chasing off a rival

Coot in Pursuit – chasing off a rival

Stonydelph lakes are only a short walk from our home, and I don’t visit them nearly enough.  So today I set off with my camera hoping to catch some of the squabbles among the water birds as they fight for their territory.  Normally you don’t have to encourage coots to fight – they do it all the time.  However today there must be something in the air, because they were abnormally placid and I had to wait a long time to catch any of them having a squabble.

There were relatively few birds on the lakes, mostly mallard, coot, moorhen, black-headed gull and mute swan.  I heard a very loud wren in full song, and there were blue tits, great tits and long-tailed tits in the surrounding trees.  No sign of the tufted duck that are often there in the winter, nor of the pintail that was there last year.

I did manage a few shots of birds in action though.  Maybe a bit later in the year there will be more birds about, and more action to capture.

Coot in attack posture

Coot in attack posture

Female mallard

Female mallard

Portrait of a coot

Portrait of a coot

Duck bathing and splashing up the water

Duck bathing and splashing up the water

Mute swan failed take off

Mute swan failing to take off

Butterflies and Dragonflies

Four-spotted chaser

Four-spotted chaser

Female emperor ovipositing

Female emperor dragonfly ovipositing

Four-spotted chaser

Four-spotted chaser

Small tortoiseshell

Small tortoiseshell

Large skipper

Large skipper

Ringlet

Ringlet on cleavers

Meadow brown

Meadow brown looks a bit drunk!

This prolonged spell of warm and dry weather has really spurred the butterflies and dragonflies into action, and they are making up for lost time due to the very prolonged winter and late Spring.  Our meadows are full of brown butterflies – we have literally hundreds of ringlets and meadow browns on the wing at the moment, along with some small tortoiseshell, small heath, common blue, brown argus, small skipper and large skipper.  The skippers, in particular, are congregating by the ponds to drink.  It is really lovely to see these little butterflies on the wing.  They are joined by six-spot burnet moths in numbers I haven’t seen for a long time.  Speckled wood are also present in large numbers inside the wood, and I’m waiting to see the first purple hairstreaks of the year.

The ponds are starting to draw down due to the dry weather, some areas drying out completely – we are letting them do this, as temporary pond habitats are very valuable.  Over the ponds are large numbers of four-spotted chaser dragonflies, broad-bodied chasers, southern hawkers, and the first common darters.  In the trees are the brown hawkers and best of all are the wonderful emperor dragonflies – today I spotted a female laying her eggs in one of our ponds.  We also have blue-tailed, azure, common blue, large red, banded demoiselle damselflies on the wing at the moment and I’m looking out for the white-legged damselflies and emerald damselflies which tend to emerge a bit later.  There is frenzied activity over the ponds as the dragonflies and damselflies jostle for territory and prime egg-laying sites.

After such a difficult summer in 2012, and such a cold and prolonged winter, it is wonderful so see so many of these insects on the wing.  There are obviously enough to provide food for large numbers of swifts and swallows, as well as our resident hobby, and at night, plenty of food for the bats too.

I’ve managed to snap a few pictures – hope you enjoy them!