Odonata variety builds at Tophill

The onset of bad weather prior to the second weekend of May meant birds were in short supply at Tophill Low NR, East Yorkshire, and as the weather improved into week three, my birding visits yielded nothing. The highlight for me was a 1st summer Mediterranean Gull Ichthyaetus melanocephalus which appeared on and off for a few days, at times appearing to be trying to set up territory. I’ve been looking out for one for a while and with birds now nesting at nearby North Cave Wetlands, could we soon be seeing summer-plumaged Meds on a more regularly basis at Tophill??? As ever, for the latest news from Tophill Low, check out the website.

Azure Damselfly Coenagrion puella Tophill Low NR, East Yorkshire

With birds in short supply, attention turns to Odonata, with eight species on the wing by May 17th. Number wise, Azure Damselfly Coenagion puella is the most common – a count of 1006 being the high to date, whilst Common Blue Damselfly Enallagma cyathigerum totalled a respectable 447.

The first teneral Red-eyed Damselfly Erythromma najas were noted from May 10th, with 16 counted later in the week. Timing and weather is key to recording a site year high when they are tenerals, as once adults, they disperse to the water making counting difficult. Large Red Damselfly Pyrrhosoma nymphula are still present and double figure counts can still be easily reached, and Blue-tailed Damselfly  Ischnura elegans are much easier to spot than at this time 12 months ago.

Red-eyed Damselfly Erythromma najas Tophill Low NR, East Yorkshire May 2014

Four-spotted Chaser Libellula quadrimaculata Tophill Low NR, East Yorkshire May 2014

I guess most people start seeing Odonata once the larger species take to the wing. The count on the 17th turned up 31 Four-spotted Chaser Libellula quadrimaculata including one of the form praenublia while a Broad-bodied Chaser L. depressa also appeared briefly at the southern end of the site.

The highlight was the recording once again of Hairy Dragonfly Brachytron pratense. With another decent total seen at nearby Leven Canal on the 16th, it was no surprise to encounter a lone male on the 17th. What was surprising was that the following day a minimum of nine individuals were present, including two ovipositing females which gives hope that one day it can be proven that the species breeds on site.

The fungi interest focused on these delightful Mycena acicula Orange Bonnet – tiny but simply stunning.

Mycena acicula Orange Bonnet Tophill Low NR, East Yorkshire May 2014

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