Thursday 15 March 2012

August on Alyesbeare Common

Another post that just never seemed to happen at the time. I've still not been out and about much, I just don't seem to be able to shift this cold, so a good excuse to get around to posting this I suppose.

I visited Alyesbeare Common in the first week of August last year, it was a lovely sunny day and I was hoping to see my first ever Emerald Damselflies, Lestes sponsa.  I do realise that this it a very widespread  and fairly common species over much of the country but it is a bit more scarce in this region. I probably had seen it before when I lived in the Midlands but I didn't note what species it was. Anyhow, I definitely hadn't photographed them before. They appear quite dull from a bit of a distance but close up they are surprisingly colourful.

The metallic green and powder blue male is gorgeous ( in his own way)...but up close...
(Look away Martha)...



The female is metallic green all over. 
Best to enlarge this to get the full effect of the colour.

Female Southern Hawker, usually much trickier to get near to than the males.

There were also scores of Graylings on the wing. I remember I was trying to follow pairs of them to see the mating ritual when they eventually land, with the male showing off the upper side of his wings. As I was following one pair through the heather I just happened to look down and I'd put my trainer clad foot down about a centimetre away from a big, (and very fortunately for me) sleeping female Adder. Instead of striking at my leg she slid off. I was so close to inadvertently stepping straight on her I remember feeling a bit shaken. I gave up trying to follow the amorous butterflies and relaxed with a bit of pony therapy instead (reputed (by me) to be almost as good as puppy therapy). Here's some photos of the Graylings, probably the only one of the 54 species I saw last year not to have made it onto here...until now.

 Usual View...Yawn ;-)

 I was lucky enough to actually see the upper wings a few times although my photographic efforts leave a bit to be desired. It was a 'blink and you'll miss it ' kind of situation though.

Another one for my growing 'on the hand' list.


 Pony therapy!
Exmoor ponies are used to control the vegetation on the reserve and soothe victims of close encounters of the anguine kind!

This is Saw-wort, serratoula tincoria which was as far as I recall, a new plant for me. Probably just been overlooking it for years.


Anonymous said...

Great photos!

kirstallcreatures said...

oooh lovely damselfly photos, hope the cold shifts soon.

I remember nearly stepping on an Adder whilst climbing a hill in Northumberland, with my dad, aged 8 or 9. I recall catching a glimpse of the Adder just before placing my foot on the ground & I completely froze for a good few seconds which seemed like hours at the time,before legging it down the hill as fast as my little legs could carry me. I was so shaken. Of course neither my mam or dad can remember it, but its my biggest nature-related scare. Well, that and being absolutely terrified of a turkey tail fungi growing on an oak at the bottom of the garden, at the age of 5 or 6but thats another story!

Get well soon, Linda

Andrew Cunningham said...

Saw-wort! That's one I have not seen so that goes on my calendar for this year. Thanks.

Karen Woolley said...

Thanks for commenting folks.

Andrew's apparently quite common in the south west, I expect it's dead easy to overlook though.