Sunday, 22 June 2014

Southern Damselfly et al. - Cors Erddreiniog and Great Orme - 22nd June 2014

Southern Damselfly
Southern Damselfly
I spent most of the day with Chris Jones on Anglesey focussing on Dragonfly, Butterfly and Orchids. My personal main reason for going was because I wanted to look for Southern Damselfly at Cors Erddreiniog, but given that these were at the back of the reserve, I had to save these til last. Eventually we arrived at the area, and after a decent amount of time searching, I spotted an incredibly small and dainty damsel in flight. A quick binocular view revealed the characteristic 'mercury mark' on the 2nd segment confirming ID of this very rare species in the UK.
As far as I am aware, they only occur in 11 10km squares in the UK as their requirements of shallow, flowing streams with chalky runoff. Anglesey isn't famed for it's chalk, so they are only in an area of about 50m square! A real honour to observe the smallest blue damsel in the UK! 
Keeled Skimmer
Last visit to Cors Erddreiniog saw me see my first UK Keeled Skimmer and today, there were loads of males. It took me a while, but eventually got photos of a perched male.
Scarce Blue-tailed Damselfly
My third trip to the Anglesey fens and my third time of seeing this really nice damselfly. Similar to Southern Damsel, they're quite specific in where you'll find them (usually over a bit of open marsh). It was great however to see one perched on the same bit of rush as a common Blue-tailed Damselfly. Great to see the size difference and difference in markings side by side.
Hairy Dragonfly
A lot of Hairy Dragons out today. Nice to get an ok photo of one too as I've failed in the past.
Marsh Helleborine
Orchids were the other main focus of the day as Chris is even newer than me, so after a trip to Plas Newydd to get Greater Butterfly Orchid, Cors Erddreiniog proved brilliant with everything from last visit except Narrow-leaved Marsh. This meant that most species were going over, so Fly Orchid were very faded, although the paler stalks made them easier to find this time. Marsh Helleborine were out in flower today which was a first for me! My first helleborine in flower and what a stunner! Lovely plant. We ended the day at the Great Orme seeing Pyramidal Orchid taking the day tally to 9 species.
Eristalis intricarius
A few hoverflies made for further entertainment including this nice bee mimic, plus 2 lifers in the form of Xanthogramma pedissequum and Chrysotoxum festivum. Two real stunners!
male Silver-studded Blue ssp caernensis - thinner black border to the upperwing and noticeably smaller than the nominate race
male Silver-studded Blue ssp caernensis - note the silver studds in the lover orange spots.
female Silver-studded Blue ssp caernensis - bluer centre and daker base, plus smaller size making this pretty striking
Grayling ssp thyone - smaller, paler/duller and less contrasting than the nominate race.

We ended the day on the Great Orme hoping for an early flowering Dark Red Helleborine, but no joy. The main target however was the get some great views of the two endemic butterfly races. thyone Grayling are emerge several weeks before the nominate race and are only present on the western side of the Great Orme. Remarkably constricted! After a release of 90 caernensis Silver-studded Blue in the Dulas Valley in 1942, close by, this race is no longer confined to just the Great Orme. These were really out in force today though and proved really obviously different to the norm.

A superb day and I'm really thankful to Chris for driving as we got a lot done!

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