My final, or what I expect to be my final visit of the season to Crowle moor.
The weather forecast was for good sunny spells and temperatures up to 19 degrees c. Indeed it was a lovely sunny morning when I left home to make the thirty five minute journey to the moor. About twenty minutes into the journey the sun disappeared to be replaced by darkish looking clouds, not promising to say the least.
A reasonably early start arriving at the moor at 08:00. I was surprised to find two other vehicles in the car park when I arrived, especially on a Sunday morning at 08:00. Not often you come across anyone else on the moor. As it happened one of the cars belonged to a warden or volunteer who was cutting scrub down and the other was a fellow photographer Alan, who I know reasonably well. After chatting to Alan for a few minutes I got the gear out and set up. I decided to go with hand holding the Canon 100mm lens with the flash mounted, mainly because I was expecting it to brighten up and I would be able to get fast enough shutter speeds for hand holding, and also because hand holding gives me more opportunities with skittish insects such as the Black darter's that I was expecting to photograph.
I made my way across the moor and although I did see the odd darter on the wing nothing much was moving due to the overcast conditions. The sun did make one or two very brief appearances but they were very brief. Undaunted I carried on and it wasn't long before the first of several male Emerald damselflies were seen. I love the steely blue eye on the mature male Emerald and can never resist going for a close up of these, although with the dull conditions I had to push the ISO on the camera up to 800 and keep the F stop at F9 get anything like a decent shutter speed to hand hold.
Male Emerald damselfly
With the dull conditions, finding the insects to photograph was a rather difficult job. Dragonflies are sun loving creatures and tend to stay well hidden when it's overcast, as do many insects. Perseverance is the name of the game in these conditions, so persevere I did. It was quite noticeable that what Black darter's I did see were mostly male. There were a few females but the males greatly outnumbered the females.
Male Black darter
Lunch time soon arrived and seeing as there are no seats at all on the moor it's a case of standing up to eat or sitting on the ground on a bag and risking getting stung by ants which always seem to be in abundance on the moor. I chose the first option. After lunch the skies started to brighten a touch with odd sunny spells. I thought I would go see if I could spot any adders and Bog Bush-crickets in the now warmer conditions. approaching the area where I have seen adder's in the past I walked very lightly and slowly and was rewarded with sightings of seven different adder's. I don't now much about adder's and always assumed they were solitary creatures but I saw three basking on the edge of the path in close proximity to each other. Despite my best efforts at getting close to any of them I only managed a very poor photograph of one, mostly just getting a tail end view as they slithered away very quickly. I have posted the photograph just to show you one but as said it is a poor photograph.
Adder, female I think
I did have a little more luck with the Bog Bush-cricket's, finding four of them. These are very difficult to photograph as they are very much like grasshopper's and are usually low down in the vegetation. If you manage to get one in a position where it's possible to get a photograph you are lucky to get a shot or two before they leap off, never to be seen again Lol. The photograph below is of a female, they can be sexed by the length of the ovipositor (egg-laying tube at the tip of the abdomen) the female having a much longer tube than the male.
Female Bog Bush-cricket
The sunny spells were short lived and the cloud soon returned. I made my way back across the moor towards the car park, all the time walking very slowly, partly because I was weary, partly because I was on the look out for any insects. Something bright orangey in colour flashed past me. It was reasonably large and not something I was familiar with. I was in luck as it landed in a bush just in front of me. I approached very carefully and managed a few shots before it flew off. I thought it was some type of Ichneumon fly but wasn't sure and an ID would have to be looked up. My thanks to Colin Pumfrett for the ID. I was right on it being an Ichneumon fly and I think Colin has nailed the ID as Opheltes glaucopterus. A first for me to see or photograph.
By the time I arrived back at my car it was 15:30 hours and I was very leg weary. It certainly made me realise that I'm the wrong side of sixty for spending seven and a half hours on my feet without a decent break. The plus side was the new species for me and the mosquitoes hadn't been too bad. Think I only got four bites. Lol. An excellent if tiring day on this great reserve despite the weather, yes you have probably guessed, my little rant at the weather forecaster's who got it wrong again.