Tuesday, 17 May 2016

The First Demoiselles @ Sawbo Marsh!

Sawbridgeworth Marsh - 8th May 16

Weather: Sunny and hot.

Bird Total: 24
Plus: Frog.
Plus: Brimstone; Orange Tip, Peacock, Red Admiral, Small White butterflies.
Plus: Banded Demoiselle, Blue-tailed, Common Blue and Large Red damselflies.
Plus: 7, 10 and 16-spot Ladybird; Alderfly; Banded Snail; Bluebottle; Crane Fly; Flesh Fly; Hoverfly; Midge; Nursery Web Spider; Red-tailed Bumblebee.
Plus: Bluebells, Valerian, Cuckoo Flower, Marsh Marigold.

It was a Sunday. It was also the hottest day of the year, so far.  So I didn't want to waste the day and suggested to Ron that we pay a visit to Sawbridgeworth Marsh. A Grasshopper Warbler had been seen here recently.

Cuckoo Flower
I was also hoping to see some more Odonata, notably any Banded Demoiselles. The recent dry, sunny, hot weather should bring them out. Happily, that was exactly what happened.

Ron picked me up around 1pm and we made the short drive to the Reserve. He hadn't visited before and was keen to have a look around. With the car parked up, we made ready. Just before we entered the Reserve, Ron thought he spotted a Goldcrest, over the road.

It was already very hot and humid, without a cloud in the sky. Thankfully, a cool breeze blew in every now and then, bringing respite.

Andy Sapsford, the Reserve Warden, had made a few changes, since my last visit. A few ponds and lagoons had been created, specifically for Odonata. A lot of coppicing had also been done. And, instead of the one large circuit around the Reserve, it had been split into two smaller circuits.

We walked the eastern side first, followed by the western side. All in all, it took around three hours or so and we practically covered the whole area. It was starting to get a little overgrown in places and was also a little boggy in others. There was only one other person on the Reserve, besides us.

After a quiet-ish opening period, we started to get our eye in. First up, was a Blue-tailed damselfly, an adult male, sat on one of the many stems in one of the newly-created lagoons. A little further on, a male Large Red damselfly was spotted.

There were plenty of butterflies around, mainly Peacock and Orange Tip. However, we also spotted a Red Admiral, my first of the season and then a Brimstone.

Halfway around the first circuit, I had gone ahead and spotted a female Banded Demoiselle, which took off when I approached. I froze and thankfully it landed back down. However, it only gave me one photo before flying off, as Ron approached. It landed on a bush across the river.

A little later on, Ron spotted a male. Not long after that, another male appeared. Fantastic! Then I spotted a teneral damsel, a Common Blue.

Birdy-wise was quite fruitful, as well. We spotted plenty of Warbler-action. At one point, I spotted a warbler fly up to one of the branches. Using the 'it can't be that' equation, I reckon it must have been the Grasshopper Warbler seen recently. It had been seen in this area.

A little later on, I spotted a Garden Warbler, while plenty of Reed and Sedge Warblers were about. There were also a couple of Whitethroats and Blackcap in the area, while we could hear several Chiffchaff and Cetti's Warblers singing out. A Kestrel was seen hovering early on. A few Reed Buntings were calling out and briefly showing themselves over the river, by the adjacent reed-beds.

All in all, it was a very good day out, albeit a brief visit. I'm still not certain about the Gropper, but I was delighted to see a few Banded Demoiselles. I think Ron was quite impressed, as well.

Certainly worth a return visit, during July.

'Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.' Carl Sagan