Archive for Aug, 2013


Living in an acid environment

When you read the description of a Black Darter it says that it’s a very diminutive dragonfly mainly black in colour. Not something you would normally write home about. Well …the males anyway.
Last month we paid a visit to the acid bogs around The Wash. Small pools here among the heather held Dragonflies galore. Among them were Black Darters. Only just bigger than a damselfly they were easily overlooked; until we saw the females; like little girls in bright summer dresses dancing among the matching luminescent yellow Bog Asphodel. Unmistakable.
Keeled Skimmers with lace like wings were also patrolling the ponds.
A wonderful place with some specialised wildlife.

As always click each photo to enlarge.

Black Darter 1

Bog Ashphodel

Keeled Skimmer


Look at the Pterostigmas on that!

You can just imagine the lads at the Emerald Damselfly night out saying just that; viewing the talent dancing alluringly in the middle of the pool around their tiny pile of handbags.

Well what are Pterostigmas? They are in fact cells in the leading edge of an insects wing; in this case a dragonfly or damselfly. They are often enlarged and sometimes coloured. You can see them in this photo I took the other day of a Common Emerald Damselfly on the coast here in Norfolk.

1 Common Emerald

Compare them to the Pterostigmas on this Southern Emerald Damselfly which we also saw the other day. The Pterostigmas are clearly two tone and are an important distinguishing feature between the ‘commoner’ Common Emerald and the scarcer Southern Emerald.

2 Southern Emerald

… but even the damselflies get it wrong sometimes. As you can see this male Common has coupled up with a female Southern. Too many beers obviously.

3 Emeralds Coupled

… she eventually gave him the slip however and managed to find a male southern to hook up with.

4 Lesser Emeralds Coupled

The female then took to the vegetation at the side of the pool where she carefully sliced into the rush stem with the tip of her abdomen and laid an egg inside. Look carefully and you can see the scars on the rush where she repeated the process over and over again.

A new generation in the making.

5 Lesser Emerald Egg Laying






The shape of fins to come

There are quite comprehensive databases of Dolphins seen around the UK. They are identified by the nicks, gouges and marks on their dorsal fins; unique as fingerprint. Indeed computer programmes are now available that store and compare fin shapes and outlines. This technique can also be used with Minke Whales and also with Basking Sharks.

We saw this Baking Shark on a pelagic off Mull in June. The photograph will be entered into an index of sightings and its subsequent movements may be tracked if it is seen again.

Basking Shark


Life in the top of an Elm Tree

White letter hairstreak Butterflies are small – a little bigger than your thumbnail. They usually occupy the foliage at the top of Elm trees and are therefore often out of sight or difficult to see. Occasionally, just occasionally however they may come down to feed on brambles. We got a good look at a couple the other day when they did just that and hey! … who could resist a photo or two?

White letter Harstreak


Photo Competition

Just in case you didn’t see it I urge you to read the comment made on the last post regarding a Wildlife Photography Competition. Here’s the link to the comments



While looking over the wildflower test patch I put in at Falcon Cottage I got buzzed by a Dragonfly. It was a female Emperor, or should it be Empress? She immediately began egg laying in the pond.
Sitting on the vegetation she lowered her abdomen into the water and deposited her small white cargo; individually sticking the eggs to the stalks of the plants. Even before she had finished another female came and joined her.
Emperor Dragonfly
Emperor Dragonfly


Uncommon Sandpiper

One disappointment about the cold spring was the rather poor wader passage. The local reservoir on the hill here at Northrepps usually has visiting Common Sandpipers. In June 2012 it played host to a party of fourteen on one day. This year it didn’t have any. We did however have our fill of this wonderful small wader on its breeding grounds in Scotland. Lets hope the autumn passage will be better.
Common Sandpiper


The most delicate of orchids

One of the most delicate orchids we’ve seen this year both on our tours in Scotland and in Norfolk on our Safari’s is the Heath Spotted Orchid. Quite a delicate stem with beautiful flowers the centre lobe on each petal is smaller than the outer two which distinguishes it from the Common Spotted Orchid where the lobes are of equal size.
All wild orchids are protected by law If you remove or disturb the ground you can be fined or imprisoned or both. If you are lucky enough to have them in your garden and want to move them you need to get a licence from the local council!

Heath Spotted Orchid

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Aug 2013


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