Nature Notes – July 2016

The most recent dragonfly to appear over our pond is the Emperor Dragonfly. This is our largest species, the male a brilliant blue. It is often found over larger lakes and ornamental ponds, so it is good to see them over such a small pond. Sticking to a couple of stems of rushes and irises are the empty cases of the mature larvae, which have crawled up out of the water and from which the adults have emerged. Also present is a female, equally large but a less bright blue colour. She has been laying eggs, landing on the floating leaves of the yellow Fringed Water Lily, and probing her abdomen under the water to stick them into the plant tissues. I hope to put some pictures onto the website.

Gulls are not considered the most interesting birds, even by most birdwatchers. However, there are quite a few different species to sort out – good training in observation. On some of the bare fields in the valley, (stubble after harvest, but this year the maincrop potatoes) late summer seems to bring one of our larger gulls. These are Lesser Black-backed Gulls, less familiar than the Black-headed Gulls (much smaller) or the Herring Gulls (equally large but much paler grey). Their backs and wings are not actually black, unlike the even larger Great Black-backed Gull, but merely a dark grey. They also have orange/yellow legs, (if you can see them!) unlike the pink legs of the others. In the evening they can be seen flying over eastwards, I think to the estuary at Snape.

By Geoffrey Abbott