Thursday, 8 May 2008

Speckled wood, goldfinch and mating damselflies

Another hot day so I decided to take my work to do in Easthill Park. Quite apt as I am working on schools urban wildlife stuff at the moment. In the south west corner, on the edge of the wooded area, is a picnic table that is in the shade during the morning. I had about 2 hours, the battery time for my laptop. There were many butterflies in the woodland area behind me and I could not resist a quick look. They were speckled wood as I had suspected. The butterfly below has damaged hind wings

I noticed a couple of male speckled wood butterflies patrolling and defending separate areas where sunlight broke through the trees. They are on the look out for females to mate with but if they encounter a male instead, they clash and I saw them spiral up into the tree tops on a few occations. Apparently the butterfly that originally claimed the territory usually wins. The adults feed on the sugary substance known as honey dew which is secreted by aphids as they feed on plant juices. When the battery finally gave up, I spent a bit of time checking out the wooded area. I counted at least 8 speckled wood butterflies at one time. I saw at least one female.

I also saw two bee flies, flicking their eggs (pic bee fly resting below) and a small wasp but it did not stay still enough to be identified.
There was a male blackbird, that appeared to be collecting food for young. Many blue and great tits. There also seems to be a pair of long tailed tits in the park, I have seen thme on a few occasions now. Also the usual starling, pigeons, magpie. I was pleased to see that the blue tits still seem to be using the nest box.

Back home, it was cooler in afternoon. Worked on the table in garden underneath the awning. A goldfinch perched on a branch behind me calling to another goldfinch not far away.
Late afternoon I noticed two 2 damselflies, locked together. The male clasps the female behind the head with his tail. After courship, they fly around together, the female dipping her abdomen in the water to lay her eggs on aquatic plants.
Just after sunset a small bumble bee visited all the flowers on my raspberry bushes - very kind of her as I am looking forward to raspberries later in the year.

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