Friday, 7 July 2017

June Highlights!

WeatherJune was notable for being both warmer and wetter than average. The early part of the month was largely unsettled, bringing significant amounts of rainfall to most areas. Very warm air was then drawn up from the south, bringing the highest temperatures to the country since the summer of 1976. Fresher air followed within days and low pressure became established towards the end of the month, bringing rain again to many areas.

Places Visited:  Amwell; France; Rye Meads.

Star Sightings of the Month:
Bird: Bonelli’s Warbler
Mammal: Green Lizard
Butterfly: Swallowtail
Odonata: Yellow-spotted Whiteface
Insect: Blue Chafer
Flower: Bee Orchid

June proved that it wasn't quite the end of May!’

The weather was again mixed this month. Cloud, rain, some thunderstorms, but with a scorching week around the middle of the month. Fortunately, it was the week I spent holidaying in France, searching for Odonata, with Naturetrek.

This time, it was around the La Brenne/Vienne area – ‘The Land of a Thousand Lakes’. Elsewhere, I paid two visits to Amwell and one to Rye Meads. It was another low total, due not just to the weather, but also to more humdrum appointments that couldn’t be avoided.

This month saw the usual seasonal bird disappearance. There wasn’t very much to see, or to report, only the usual for the time of year. I had, in fact, started to concentrate on invertebrates.

Even though I was primarily in France to see dragons and damsels, I did keep an eye out for birds. There were 86 species seen, including Red-crested Pochard, Honey Buzzard, Black-winged Stilt, Turtle Dove, Hoopoe, Bee-eater, Black Redstart, Firecrest, Red-back Shrike, Cirl Bunting, Bonelli’s Warbler, Little Bittern, Short-toed Eagle and Whiskered Tern. Some of which I even managed to photograph.

The only mammals/lizards this month were also seen in France, with Grass Snake, Green Lizard and Slow Worm the star spots. A few scampering Wall Lizards, a fleeting glimpse of a Coypu and lots of noisy Edible Frogs were also seen.

There was a lovely Blood Vein moth seen in Amwell, while my first Burnet Companion was spotted in Rye Meads. The second brood of Small Tortoiseshells have begun to appear, while there were plenty of Holly Blues, Red Admirals and Meadow Browns about.

However, France was again the best place to be, as I came across 46 species of Lepidoptera. Lots of Fritillaries appeared, including Heath, Marbled, Silver-washed and Weavers. Sadly, they all looked confusingly similar, to my, untrained, eye.

Special mentions also go to Black-veined White, Grey-banded Grayling, Large Chequered Skipper, Lesser Purple Emperor, Map, Swallowtail and Wood White. Moths included Cream Spot Tiger, Fiery Clearwing, Hummingbird Hawkmoth and Scarlet Tiger. It was a veritable Lepidopterists Heaven.

Skimmers and Chasers were starting to appear at both Amwell and Rye Meads, including a lovely male Scarce Chaser at Amwell. Large Red, Red-eyed and my beloved Banded Demoiselles were also out in good numbers.

However, the month was dominated by Odonata sightings in France, the main reason for the trip. I was overjoyed to find 44 species. The local specialities were seen, Common Winter, Dainty, Goblet-marked, Orange Featherleg and White-legged damselflies.

The dragons included Lilypad Whiteface, Yellow-spotted Whiteface, Orange-spotted Emerald, Southern Migrant Hawker, Southern Skimmer and Yellow Clubtail.

It was a wonderful trip in high temperatures and humidity, making it a good decision to leave the wet-weather gear behind! The locals were very welcoming, especially a ‘Rene’ look-alike at the first hotel, albeit minus the moustache! The food was fantastic (French bread!), all washed down with cold Leffe and red wine. However, one hotel lacked air-conditioning…scorchio!

I spotted well over 60 other species of invertebrate there, too. I was especially delighted to see lots of Blue Chafers, Fire Bugs, a Hornet Mimic Hoverfly, Mediterranean-spotted Chafer, AC Milan bugs, Raft Spiders and a Wheat Bug. It was yet another holiday where I had to don the kevlar-reinforced trousers!

At home, I spotted lots of Dark Bush Crickets, another Golden-bloomed Grey Longhorn Beetle - my second in as many months, Scorpion Flies, Speckled Bush Cricket and a few Thick-kneed Flower Beetles.

On the flora front, I managed to find my 3rd Bee Orchid at a 3rd Reserve, in as many weeks. This time at Rye Meads. There were orchids aplenty in France, including Heath Spotted and Lizard.

Only a few outings again this month, but it was dominated by the holiday to France, which was excellent. I’m hoping that the one week of good weather won’t be the last.

How lucky I am to be doing something that makes saying goodbye so hard.’
Winnie the Pooh

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