Saturday, 12 May 2018

A walk round the pond - week 19

This caught me by surprise.  I was busy trying to identify immature damselflies (more below) when I suddenly spotted (no pun intended) my first dragonfly of the year.  It is a recently emerged four-spotted chaser (Libellula quadrimaculata) and was hanging in the sun a metre or so from the water's edge.  While I was was watching it flew a few metres away into a silver birch.

Several minutes later it flew down to a thistle.

I was on my way out when I saw the chaser and as I left I saw several more.  I expect there will be many more by next week as this is probably the most numerous dragonfly on the pond.  

There were lots of large red damselflies this week but very few were flying.  They were sitting in the sun and sheltering from the strong breeze.  These are males in mature colouring with red shoulder stripes.

This is an immature female.

There were also lots of teneral (newly emerged) damselflies.  They are weak fliers but have very little colour which gives them good camouflage.

I am not sure what this one was up to.

This is an immature male common blue damselfly.

This is an immature male azure damselfly, the third new species in a week.

Birds I saw and heard included swift, swallow, house martin, all flying over the pond and lesser whitethroat, chiffchaff and willow warbler.  The Canada geese still have eight goslings.

It is difficult to count them when they are on land but easier on the water.

The other big news is about the little grebes.  Their nest is on a pile of pondweed in the reeds but it is not very hidden.

If I get a bit too close the sitting grebe pulls a lot of pondweed from the edge of the nest to cover the eggs.  If I get closer it will hop into the water.  Closer still and it will dive and the nest looks empty.  Because of all this I generally stay far enough away to avoid causing any alarm.  This time I could see the bird on the nest so I stayed out of the way. Later, round the other side, I peered through the reeds and could see this.

Looking closer I could see two grebes.

Looking even closer I could see this.

Looking back at one of the earlier photos it is clear there are two chicks, although I didn't notice at the time.  I was carrying two cameras so I didn't have room for binoculars.

The BTO website says that little grebes generally have 4-6 eggs so there may be more chicks to come.  Perhaps the fact that the birds stayed at the nest meant that other eggs were still unhatched.  I'll see what the situation is next week.

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