Sunday, 18 June 2017

One year on.....

On the 19th June 2016, myself, Phil, Mike and Mr Bevan had a day out at Whixall Fen in Shropshire, looking for White-faced Darter and Large Heath butterfly. Unfortunately it was a dull, damp and chilly day and whilst we ticked the Large Heath, there was no sign of the Darter.

Roll on 1 year and an unexpected break in our diaries saw Phil and the two Martins have another shot at the Darter. A not too early start of 4am saw the three set off, with Mr Beven taking the back seat to sleep of the effects of a drinking session the day before.

First port of call was central Shrewsbury to tick the American Black-Crowned Night Heron that has taken up residence around a small ornamental pond in the main park. The plan was simple, park up, wander over to the pond, watch/photograph the heron for a while and then depart for Wixhall Moss. We duly arrived, without incident, around 06:40 grabbed a coffee and wandered over to the gardens, to find the gates locked! Bu*&%$! We amused ourselves wandering the banks of the Severn looking  (unsuccessfully) for Club-tailed Dragonflies. Both Martin's crossed the river and were rewarded with their first Meadow Brown and Ringlet butterflies, before Phil phoned to say he had located the heron. By the time the Martin's made it back to the garden, the gates had been unlocked and the heron was enjoyed for a while - unfortunately, in toggers speak, the light was c$%p, so no decent photo's were taken.

As such it was 8:30 before we departed, just as the council were closing the roads for a carnival, meaning a lengthy detour to get onto the correct road to our next destination. As we headed out onto Whixall Moss, Large Skippers, Meadow Browns and Ringlets kept us company before we found our first Dragon - a Southern Hawker. next up was a Large Red Damselfly - surprising, Mr Bell's first for the year. Soon we were at the main pools for the White-faced Darter and almost immediately a teneral darter was spotted. A few photo's later and a check in the field guide and White-faced Darter was ticked. Now the hunt for an adult male. This took about another 5 minutes, before we were enjoying a couple of the dapper black and scarlet dragonflies.

The pressure off, we wandered around, picking up, Black-tailed Skimmer, Black Darter, Broad-bodied and Four-spot Chasers. Plenty of Large Heath butterflies were on the wing, but none would co-operate for the cameras. Mr Bell found a new moth for his list - a Four-dotted Footman Cybosia mesomella, but it too avoided the paperattzi.

From Whixall Moss, as we did last year, we made the short journey to Prees Heath to tick Silver-studded Blue.

As we still had plenty of time on our side we decided to head back south and to a new site for all of us, the Gloucester Wildlife Trust reserve at Daneway Banks, to look for Large Blue butterflies. Arriving at the site around 15:40, we were pleased to hear that a couple of Large Blues had been seen today. We quickly picked up Small Heath, Common Blue and Dingy Skipper, before our first Large Blue was spotted - a bit distant, but recognisable. In all we saw at least 5 Large Blues. We also added 3 Marbled Whites and a couple of Small Blue's to the days, and years lists.
                                          Large Blue (honest)
                                          Night Heron (told you the light was a tad unhelpful)
                                          Silver-studded Blue
                                          White-faced Darter (teneral)