A wet, windy and cold spring in 2015 turned into a warm, relatively dry summer and, albeit late, dragonflies emerged on to the pond in the walled garden. More of their turbulent times below. There were new sightings of other very welcome visitors. On a larger scale, I and others, saw grass snakes on several occasions and I even caught one eating a very large toad – I have spared you all from the pictures. And newts both great-crested and common have been a common sighting both in the pond and in their hibernation spots.
In the last newsletter I reported a dragonfly with wings that failed to open. Later in the year I was in the walled garden and another dragonfly – a migrant hawker – missed its prey and landed in the blanket weed where it stuck fast. It cost me a boot-full of pond water but I managed to reach out and disentangle it to set it free. 1 week later I watched an emperor (one of our largest species) do exactly the same thing – another boot-full for me.
So that they may reduce the risk of predation, the majority of our moths are nocturnal. However, some are daytime fliers. Although normally an insect of warmer climates, we had several daylight sightings of hummingbird hawkmoths. They had a particular taste for phlox nectar and the image shows one of these delightful creatures feeding on these flowers in the long garden. To freeze the wing motion like this, it was necessary to use a shutter speed of 1/5000th of a second.
Probably enough said about grass snakes but the newts were also very active this year. In the spring and summer they can be found in the walled garden pond but as autumn approaches they leave the water to seek out hibernation sites. The first image shows something I have not seen before, a male and a female common newt lying up together under their favourite brick.
Just a couple of final notes. Another Copped Hall species has been honoured in the 2015 British Wildlife Photography Awards. My picture of a camouflaged tree lichen beauty (a moth) was highly commended and like the toad last year, is included in the national exhibition which tours the country. The other point to mention is that I have completed preparation of version 2 of “The Wildlife of Copped Hall” and we are in the process of deciding how best to produce it for general sale.
Newtsphoto: Peter Warne
Mothphoto: Peter Warne