Monday, 1 August 2016

Aug 1st Strumpshaw Fen

Willow Emerald Damselfly (33)
I was back at Strumpshaw for another walk and for another chance to find the final 8 species for my Strumpshaw 40 challenge. First up was a quick, yet even thorough search for willow emerald damselflies at the far end of the reserve. This time, I stood at one clear spot along the ditch where they can be found and waited to see what moved around the willow branches hanging over the water. It turned out to be a very successful tactic. I started seeing these green damselflies with their movements betraying the green foliage that was hiding them extremely well and I was able to locate them as they sat on the branches for a few photos.

The willow emerald is one of the reserve's most newest species of insect to call Strumpshaw home. They were only recorded here within the last ten years and have already made the reserve renowned haven for them, attracting many enthusiasts hoping to see them. They were once a rare visitor to the UK from Continental Europe, but have now since colonised to a few locations. Willow emerald are large metallic green damselflies and are very difficult to spot as they can blend in like a twig on a branch. You can only find them along ditches at the far end of the Lackford Run, by the railway gates. Its because they need willow branches that hang over still water so that they can lay their eggs inside them. They are the only damselfly species in the UK that don't lay their eggs in water.
Ruddy Darter
Common Lizard
Sawfly Rhogogaster viridis
Painted Lady
With success in finding the willow emeralds, I decided to head back the way I came and walk to the Fen Hide to have lunch. There was another reason, of course, to having lunch at Fen Hide. A family of water rails, complete with fluffy chicks, has been regularly seen all this week in front of this hide and I thought that I should try and stake them out this afternoon. I waited within the midge-infested hide for a couple of hours with a photographer and a few other people who came and went within those two hours. As I waited, I saw bearded tits, marsh harriers, a kingfisher, a heron, a family of coots, mallards and a Chinese water deer that peeked its head out of the reed bed a few feet from the window of the right side of the hide. The deer was there for some time that it almost felt like we were having a staring contest with it! As for water rails, I only got on brief glimpse of one of the youngsters running between a gap within two reed beds. I will have to try again on Wednesday.
Grey Heron
Cobber the Black Swan
Juvenile Coot
Juvenile Robin

1 comment:

  1. Lovely photos and detail Sean, Thanks for sharing.