Saturday, 26 May 2012

Sweating the small stuff

I have a feeling I may have used this title before. But it is very fitting for this morning's report, given the heat down at Sevenoaks Wildlife Reserve, and that I spent most of the time chasing insects with the Bigmac lens.

Before I switched to the Bigmac, though, I did photograph this very confiding Robin with my birding lens. This was in the wildlife garden, where I spent quite a while longer, photographing flowers and insects.

This is Green Alkanet, a very pretty flower that seems to grow like wildfire in many different places. There's even some in the 'front garden' (gravel driveway) at home.

By far the most abundant damsel around was Azure. This male did me a big favour by choosing a very striking place to rest, an unopened poppy flower bud.

Not to be outdone, this female of the same species setttled on an Ox-eye Daisy.

I walked up towards Willow hide, heading for the damsel mecca that is Long Lake. The vegetation is in full turbo growth mode, making birds difficult to see. I took a look at East Lake in passing, noting a few gulls asleep on one island, and a scattering of the usual summer birds - Lapwings, Cormorants, Tufties.

Long Lake is the place for Red-eyed Damselflies. The males often sit on lily pads, watching for passing rivals or romantic possibilities. This was the only one that came photographably close. However, no Downy Emeralds at all, unlike this time last year.
Also by Long Lake were a few Banded Demoiselles. These two females were contentedly sharing a leaf, showing off their gorgeous metallic colours.
I spent a while around Long Lake, looking for other insects of interest. One that came along was this beautiful little moth, Pyrausta aurata.

Just as pretty, this Red-tipped Flower Beetle. There was a brisk wind blowing and the grass blade it was on was being thrashed about quite a bit, so it took a while to get a sharp pic. After this I encouraged the beetle onto my finger, intending to move it to a more stable place for more photos, but it was having none of this and flew away.

Common Blue Damselflies were not so common today, in fact this was the only one I photographed.

Here's another lovely moth. Not very well photographed by me, apologies for that. Not quite sure what it is. I've had a good look on UK Moths and the best I can come up with is Silver-ground Carpet, but please correct me if I'm wrong.

One of only two Large Red Damsels seen today. Though this species is very widespread and certainly common, it doesn't seem to reach the same densities as some of the blue species, at least not round here. But then
Sevenoaks is a very safe Tory seat.

I walked back past West Lake, and went down to the shore to see what was about. Here I spotted this very fresh, damp-looking damsel blundering about in the vegetation, and couldn't resist picking it up for a closer look. I couldn't tell what species it was, as it had no clear pattern and its colour was a sort of murky green. Nor could I take a sensible photo of it, as it was sitting on my left hand and I really need two hands to use the camera properly. Still, if anyone knows how to identify damsels by their eyeballs, give me a shout.

Just after this, I heard some squawking from a lakeside tree, and through bins could see half of a perched Sparrowhawk. I switched lenses and tried to relocate the bird but couldn't. I decided to keep the birding lens on and go back towards Long Lake where I'd heard a few Reed Warblers singing. I paused by the shore of North Lake for a little while, and saw a Kingfisher bolt past, and two Downy Emeralds that were similarly uncooperative.

I had no luck with the Reed Warblers, and was on my way back when I heard cheeping from a tree hole. Peering at said hole, I saw a young Great Spotted Woodpecker's face in the shadows, peering out suspiciously at the world.

I found a hiding place fairly nearby and managed an adequate shot of the proud dad as he came to feed his brood.

At the risk of inducing 'Wren fatigue' in my readers, I'll end with another Wren, this one singing with great gusto down by the river as it goes between the East and West Lakes.


IOW Birder said...

Beautiful pictures marianne, especially the damselflies. Im guessing you use a macro lens? Are you Nikon, Canon or A.N.Other?

Marianne said...

Thanks IOW Birder :) I used a Sigma 180mm macro - aka the 'Bigmac' - for most of the insect shots. Gear is Nikon, my birding lens is the Nikkor 300mm f4 (usually with a 1.4x teleconverter). I find this lens pretty good for larger insects too.

Warren Baker said...

Nice mix of inverts and bird photo's Marianne. I tried to get the Great Spot photo like yours, but the adult bird was too wary, and I moved off :-)

Mike Attwood said...

Very nice set of shots Marianne. Especially the pair of banded damoiselles.

ShySongbird said...

Another very interesting post Marianne and lovely photos. I particularly like the GSWs and definitely no Wren fatigue here :-)

That attractive little Pyrausta aurata seems to be appearing in lots of blogs at the moment.

Christian said...

Hi Marianne

I really like that Robin preening and it's such a treat to see woodpeckers in nearly fledging.

Phil said...

So nice to see some damselflies Marianne. Very few on Mull, just a few Large Reds. Hope to get to NH tomorrow morning, seems like forever since I was there!

Delbensonphotography said...

These are beautiful images. I am impressed with your work. I am looking forward to see more blogs and photos to come.

Rohrerbot said...

Love the macros on all these beautiful insects. I especially like the one where the 2 are on a branch together. It definitely pays to be patient. Great captures!!