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Local Weather

Sunday 11th to Thursday 15th June

Sunday 11th June 2017:
I started today's visit by having a mooch on the Cook's side of the Common.  The weather was overcast and windy leading to a noticeable drop in the amount of invert activity encountered.  The only Lepidoptera (butterflies and moths) of note was a single Large Skipper and 2 Cinnabar moths.

However I was pleased to see a small number of Common Blue Damselflies on the wing, the first I'd noted this year.   A Volucella bombylans bumblebee mimic hoverfly and a Black-striped Longhorn Beetle were also noted.

Common Blue Damselfly (Enallagma cyathigerum)

Volucella bombylans (bumblebee mimic hoverfly)

From the Common I headed over to Hillditch Pool. Things were pretty quite here on the wildlife front although it was pleasing to see a ♂ Scarce Chaser with quuite well defined mating scars.

♂ Scarce Chaser (Libellula fulva) with mating scars

Tuesday 13th June 2017:
Today I decided to do something slightly different and pay an late evening visit to the Common. I headed out at dusk armed with my torch to look for Glow-worms and my bat detector (just in case) I walked a circuit from the Lower Poolands carpark.  Sadly all I got for my troubles were a lot of midge bites or so it seemed until at 10:30pm I picked up on the sound of a juvenile Tawny Owl making 'begging calls' calling from the Oak wood. It continued to do so until 10:50pm.  I just wished I'd bought along my sound recorder!

Wedesday 14th June 2017:
I hadn't much time to visit the Common today as I'd already spent much of the afternoon in the Wyre Forest.  So to maximise my visit I just walked a circuit on the lower terrace taking in the Rush Pool and the nearby lawns.  At Rush Pool there were 2 Emperor Dragonflies present (a ♂ and an oviposting ♀).  A single ♂ Broad-bodied Chaser was the only other dragonfly of note.

There were many Ragwort plants growing in the lawned areas and a number of these were being fed on by the unmistakable yellow and black striped caterpillars of the Cinnabar moth.

Whilst undertaking the walk a Sparrowhawk went through and a Common Buzzard was up soaring.

Emperor Dragaonfly (Anax imperator) egg-laying

Broad-bodied Chaser (Libellula depressa)

Cinnabar (Tyria jacobaeae) larva

Thursday 15th June 2017:
Today's visit to Hillditch Pool was eventful to say the least.  At one point whilst walking at the pools edge I trod on what I thought was solid ground only to find that it was actually mud/water under the flattened vegetation and my feet sank about 12 inches.  My momentum took me forward and I fell hands first into the nettles (Ouch!).  Needless to say my hand smarted all night with 12-15 stings on my right hand it felt like I had permanent pins and needles.  That said thank heavens for small mercys...no one was there to capture the moment on camera and upload it to YouTube!  Note to self:  be mindfull of where you are treading whilst stalking dragonflies!

Anyway, enough of my waffle, on to the wildlife. There were 3 Scarce Chasers present at the pool today (1♀ and 2♂).  Only one of the male Chasers had visible mating scars.  3 Emperor (2♂, 1♀) were also  present as was a single Four-spotted Chaser.

Emperor Dragaonfly (Anax imperator)

Four-spotted Chaser (Libellula quadrimaculata) - distant record shot

Whilst at the pool a Kingfisher flew through and an adult Moorhen was present with 3 young chicks.

In the meadow adjacent to the pool there were 3 Meadow Brown butterflies and 4 Ringlets present.  Their numbers will no doubt increase exponentially over coming days now they have started to emerge.

Ringlet (Aphantopus hyperantus)

Wednesday 7th & Saturday 10th June

Wednesday 7th June 2017:
I split this afternoon's visit into two separate walks.  The first being on the lower terrace of the Common and the second around Hillditch.  Again the warm mild weather continued.

On the Common I recorded 3♂ Broad-bodied Chasers on a now drying out Rush Pool.  Also during my circuit I recorded 1 Large Skipper butterfly and 12 Cinnabar moths.  It was also quite saddening to see that many of the spikes of  Tower Mustard had been gnawed off at about 6 inches above ground level.  This was most likely caused by some of the Common's rabbit population.

At Hillditch pool there was a good mix of dragonflies active with 3 Emperors (2♂,1♀), 1 Four-spotted Chaser and 2 Scarce Chasers (1♂,1♀) recorded.  The ♂ Scarce Chaser was of particular interest as it showed visible 'mating scars' along it's abdomen.  These are caused by the way a female claps the male with her legs during the mating process causing an area of the powdery blue pruinescence (mentioned last blog post) to be rubbed away.

Scarce Chaser (Libellula fulva)

Scarce Chaser (Libellula fulva) showing mating scars

Also of note at Hillditch today were 2 Large Skipper butterflies.

Saturday 10th June 2017:
The weather was warm and overcast for today's visit to the Common.  I started at the main car park where I checked the half a dozen Mullein plants in that are to see if there were any larvae of  The Mullein moth present.  I was in luck and found two of these stunning caterpillars feeding on the leaves.  The larva of this moth will also feed on buddleia leaves so it's always worth checking those if you have them in your garden.

The Mullein (Cucullia verbasci) larva

Also of interest in this area were a handful of Petticoat Mottlegill fungi.  They get there common name from the fringe around the edge of its cap that is said to resemble the frilly hem of a petticoat.

Petticoat Mottlegill (Panaeolus papilionaceus)

From the main car park I headed over to the southeast side of the Common where a Spotted Flycatcher was calling and showing (occasionally) at the edge of the Oak woodland.

Spotted Flycatcher (Muscicapa striata) - photo from same site in 2016

On the SE side of the Common I recorded a single Grass Wave moth.  This is a fairly localised moth species in Worcestershire that occurs in the Wyre Forest and the lowland heath areas between Kidderminster, Bewdley and Stourport such as Hartlebury Common.

Grass Wave (Perconia strigillaria)

Thursday 1st & Saturday 3rd June

Thursday 1st June 2017:
Another warm afternoon saw me again visit Hillditch Pool to record the dragonflies.  Today there were 4 Emperor Dragonflies (3♂ , 1♀) present, the female of which was seen oviposting (egg-laying).  A single immature Scarce Chaser was also noted. 

Emperor Dragonfly (Anax imperator) oviposting

Another invert of note today was a bumblebee mimic hoverfly called Volucella bombylans.  This hoverfly lays it's eggs in the nests of bumblebees and wasps where it's larvae will scavenge for food.

Bumblebee mimic hoverfly (Volucella bombylans)

Saturday 3rd June 2017:
This afternoon I again decided to spend my time at Hillditch Pool.  The weather was warm and sunny and a number of butterflies were on show including my first Meadow Brown of the year.  Also observed were 2 Large Skippers, 1 Red Admiral and a ♂ Common Blue

Large Skipper  (Ochlodes sylvanus)

There were 3 Emperor Dragonflies (2♂ , 1♀) present and also a ♂ Scarce Chaser.  This was my first male of the latter species I had recorded at the site this year.  Unlike the orange/brown female Scarce Chaser the male develops a powdery light blue colour (or pruinescence as its known) on it's abdomen.

Scarce Chaser (Libellula fulva)

Another insect of note today was a Wasp Beetle that was seen feeding on umbellifer flowers. 

Wasp Beetle (Cletus arietis)

Tuesday 30th May & Wednesday 31st May

Tuesday 30th May 2017:
I decided to have a mooch around Hillditch Pool today looking for inverts.  Beetles were the order of the day as I recorded 2 Red-headed Cardinal Beetles, a ♀ Thick-legged Flower Beetle and a 14-spot LadybirdHarlequin Ladybird, Garden Chafer and Red Soldier Beetle were also noted.

Red-headed Cardinal Beetle (Pyrochroa serraticornis)

Also recorded during this visit were White-lipped Snail and Nursery Web Spider.  A small number of Small Tortoiseshell butterfly caterpillars were found feeding on Nettles.

Nursery Web Spider (Pisaura mirabilis)

Small Tortoiseshell (Aglais urticae) larva

Wednesday 31st May 2017:
I paid another visit to Hillditch Pool today to make the most of the warm mild weather.  If yesterday was all about the beetles then today was all about the moths, the highlight of which being a stunning long-horned micro-moth called Adela croesella.  This type of moth are called long-honed due to their long antennae.  Other moths recorded included 7 Straw Dot, a Common Carpet and a handful of Nettle Tap moths. 

Adela croesella

Straw Dot (Rivula sericealis)

The only butterflies observed during the visit were 1 Small Tortoiseshell & 1♂ Orange Tip

Small Tortoiseshell (Aglais urticae)

I also found a Hairy Shieldbug during my visit and a ♂ Thick-legged Flower Beetle was also noted.

Hairy Shieldbug (Dolycoris baccarum)

Thick-thighed Flower Beetle (Oedemera nobilis)

On the Odonata front, a single ♂ Emperor was the only dragonfly observed but good numbers of damselflies were present.  Both Beautiful and Banded Demoiselle were particularly showy.

Banded Demoiselle (Calopteryx splendens)

Thursday 25th to Monday 29th May

Thursday 25th May 2017:
Paid a brief visit to the Common this afternoon to check out the Rush Pool and surrounding area.  at the pool there were 5 Broad-bodied Chasers present (3♂ , 2♀). 

whilst walking the surrounding grassland and scrub I recorded 2 Garden Carpet moths and 3 Mother Shipton.   Many Cinnabar moths were now on the wing.   A Black-headed Cardinal Beetle was also recorded. 

Green Carpet (Colostygia pectinataria)

Friday 26th May 2017:
The conditions were hot weather-wise so I decided to head down to Hillditch pool in the search for dragonflies.  It proved worthwhile as both a ♂ Emperor dragonfly and an imm. Scarce Chaser were observed on the wing. Both of which were year firsts, not only for the site but the county.  There was also a noticeable increase in the demoiselle damselflies present.

Beautiful Demoiselle (Calopteryx virgo)

The site year firsts continued with a Large Skipper butterfly present on vegetation near the pool.  Other butterflies recorded were a ♂ Common Blue and a Red Admiral.   Also observed during the visit were 3 Small Yellow Underwing moths and a single Hornet.

Large Skipper (Ochlodes sylvanus)

Monday 29th May 2017:
It was a dull, damp, drizzly day on the Common but I still decided to have a mooch about.  I walked an area on the southern section of the common from the pull in at the former car park along the Worcester Rd.  I was pleased to discover that there was a healthy population of Tower Mustard in that area with 36 flower spikes counted in total.  Tower Mustard is a fairly scarce plant in Worcestershire but it is known to be present in small numbers on the Common.

The only other positive I could take from the visit was hearing a Lesser Whitethroat singing over the road on the Cook's side of the Common.  As I continued my walk the rain became heavier and I decided to abandon and visit another day.

Tower Mustard (Turritis glabra)

Sunday 21st and Wedndesday 24th May

Sunday 21st May 2017:
Today I returned to the Common for the first time after a weeks holiday and it was amazing just how much things had progressed during that time.   For today's visit I started by checking the area around the Rush Pool and was greeted by the site of two ♂ Broad-bodied Chasers being territorial and chasing each other.  In the grassy areas near the pool there were 2 Small Heath butterflies on the wing and a Straw Dot moth was also noted.

Broad-bodied Chaser (Libellula depressa)

Small Heath (Coenonympha pamphilus)

From the Rush Pool I headed over to Hillditch Pool where the sunshine had bought out a good selection of butterflies. A ♂ Brimstone, 1 Large White, 1 Green-veined White, 1 Peacock and 6 Small Tortoiseshell were recorded.   Things hadn't progressed mush on the damselfly front with only Blue-tailed Damselfly being a new addition.  Many Azure and Large Red Damselflies were observed.  A Cucumber Green Spider was also noted.

Blue-tailed Damselfly (Ischnura elegans) - ♀  form rufescens

Cucumber Green Spider (Araniella cucurbitina)

Wednesday 24th May 2017:
This afternoon my wife and I undertook a walk around the lower terrace of the Common to check both Rush Pool and The Bog for Odonata (dragonflies and damselflies).  The hot sunny weather had certainly bought them out with  5 Broad-bodied Chaser (3♂ , 2♀) at Rush Pool and 3 Broad-bodied Chaser (1♂ , 2♀) at The Bog.  The only other species of Odonata recorded within these areas was Azure Damselfly.  Also of interest during this walk were 3 Cinnabar moths. and a number of Brown Silver-line moths.  Garden Chafer beetle was also noted.

Cinnabar (Tyria Jacobaeae)

We then headed across to Hillditch Pool where damselflies were the order of the day.  Red-eyed Damselflies were now on the wing patrolling the lily pads. and we recorded 4 in total (3♂ , 1♀).  good numbers of demoiselle were observed with 9 Banded Demoiselle (7♂ , 2♀) and 4 Beautiful Demoiselle (2♂ , 2♀) recorded.  Azure, Blue-tail and Large Red damselflies were all present in good numbers. 

Red-eyed Damselfly (Erythromma najas)

Banded Demoiselle (Calopteryx splendens) 
&Azure Damselfly (Coenagrion puella)

The visit to Hillditch seemed fairly unproductive until my wife Bev picked up on a ♂ Common Blue butterfly flitting over the bracken.  My first for the site this year.

Common Blue (Polyommatus icarus)