Another visit to my local patch Messingham. The weather forecast wasn't good with showers or longer spells of rain expected by early afternoon. It was fairly overcast when I arrived at Messingham at about 09:00, although it was reasonably warm, about 16 degrees centigrade. The sun would show it's face briefly now and then but no prolonged sunshine at all. I decided to use the Sigma 150mm lens on the tripod as it was also rather windy and I knew hand holding the Canon 100mm in these conditions would be difficult.
The first meadow area near the car park was fairly sheltered from the wind and I noticed good numbers of Meadow Brown and Ringlet butterflies on the wing. The usual Common and Blue-tailed damselflies were also seen in good numbers. Grasshoppers were fairly active making their customary leaps from one area to another. A couple of Brown Hawker dragonflies were also on the wing. I did manage a shot of a Brown Hawker as it perched very briefly but it was what I call a grab shot or a rushed shot that I didn't have time to set up for properly and it was blurred. A Southern Hawker however was much more obliging allowing me to get a few photographs of it. I also got a very nice photograph of a Comma butterfly, seems ages since I last saw a Comma but with the present weather conditions I guess I'm doing well to see much at all.
Continuing to make my way around the reserve I came to the area where the Emerald damselflies were seen in good numbers on my last visit. The recent heavy rain we have been having had made this area very wet under foot with largish pools of water stood in many places. The Emeralds were about in good numbers but they were very flighty indeed and the wind seemed to be much worse in this spot making it nigh on impossible to get sharp shots. I did see a Common Lizard in this area but it quickly disappeared before I could get a photograph. I soon moved on to a more sheltered spot where I saw more Brown Hawkers on the wing but none that perched despite me watching and waiting for at least twenty minutes.
I had now reached the heather meadow, always one of the most sheltered and warm spots on the reserve. Ringlet, Meadow Brown and Small Skipper butterflies were around in good numbers. I saw a couple of Emerald damselflies, but again they were extremely flighty so no photographs. A Common Lizard scuttled away into the undergrowth around one of the heather plants. A flesh fly posed very nicely for me on a dry grass stem.
I continued along the path between the lakes towards the duck hide. In the small meadow in front of the hide I disturbed a male Black-tailed Skimmer dragonfly. The black-tailed Skimmers seem to have had a pretty poor season at Messingham this time. I don't think i have seen more than a dozen all season. More Emerald damselflies were seen in this meadow and in comparison to the others seen today these were quite cooperative and although the wind made it a bit difficult, I did manage some shots of the Emerald's that I was very pleased with.
Female Emerald damselfly
After spending around an hour in this area I had my refreshments and made my way to the wooded area of the reserve. As I passed the fencing just before the woods I saw a Common Lizard. Just like the ones I saw previously it did a runner as soon as it spotted me. I see many photographs of lizards but how people manage to get them I don't know as whenever I see one it's usually the back end of one as it scurries away. The last few visits to Messingham have seen me missing the wooded area as it's generally rained before I've got that far. Several Brown and Southern Hawkers were seen along the rides. A couple of times a Southern perched up but promptly took flight as I approached. I spotted a Brown Hawker perched low in the vegetation. It was impossible to get a photograph showing all the insect as it's body was partially hidden by the vegetation. I did manage some nice head shots though before it took flight.
I had now completed a circuit of the reserve with no rain for a change so I decided to head back towards the heather meadow to see If I could get photographs of the Small Skipper butterflies seen earlier. I didn't manage any of the Small Skippers. Well that's not quite true, I did, but none I was happy with. I did however get a nice photograph of a pair of Meadow Brown butterflies mating.
Mating pair of Meadow Brown butterflies
I then carried on to the duck hide area where I had photographed the emerald damselflies earlier. On the way I saw a Common Darter but no photograph was possible. The Emerald damselflies were not so cooperative this time. It's funny how they seem so different in behaviour in different areas of the reserve and at different times of the day. I must have counted at least nine individuals in this small area and there were several males amongst them. The only photograph I got however was of a female.
Female Emerald damselfly
The time was now 14:00 and I decided to make my way back to the car. The weather had held and despite the windy conditions an excellent five hours spent on my local patch. There is talk of an improvement in our weather conditions for next week, so fingers crossed they are right.