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Willow Emerald Damselflies At Combe Valley

Yesterday we did one of our usual walks down the Combe Valley Countryside Park. We started at Crowhurst at the new large reservoir which was fairly quite except a Green Sandpipper (Tringa orchropus) flew past and then across to the other side out of range. Someone doing some bird watching over winter said they had seen one in the wet grasslands, but we didn't find it and its the first we've seen one. So a nice treat and a handsome little wader.

As we continued down along the Combe River we found at least two Willow Emerald Damselflies (Chalcolestes viridis) one among the side vegetation and one high up in the willow, nearer to the Filsham Reedbed entrance. Another first for us, so we had no idea what they were until we got home to look them up, and we were very pleased to find out they were the Willow Emerald.

The entire walk was also awash with Clouded Yellow Butterflies (Colias croceus) patrolling areas for females, we estimated 20+.


From the Clifftop

We've been away for a couple of weeks in Uzbekhistan-about as far away from the sea as you can get !

Back here, the usual moth trapping activity resumed, with another Beautiful Marbled [as pictured in the last entry below] amongst rather meagre catches caused by cold nights. Bird migration seems fairly quiet, though a Tree Pipit and 100 + Meadow Pipits went through today; at sea were 10 Grey Plovers and a Mediterranean Gull yesterday.

This morning I visited East Guldeford Levels, here 4 Whinchats [pictured] and a Spotted Flycatcher in one remote bush were noteworthy.


From the Clifftop

Far too much weather on the clifftop lately, resulting in several missed nights of moth trapping. However, last night was OK if cold, and a modest catch included my 2nd Beautiful Marbled, a scarce migrant; it was rather faded and active so this is last year's one.

I have recorded very lttle bird activity here of late , this morning just 1 Swift and 2 Yellow Wagtails west, at sea a Kittiwake and an Arctic Skua, also a Grey Seal


Willow Emerald in Tenterden

Just about in the RX area, I think. I recently met a zoologist, Don Clarke from Tenterden, who showed me a good photo of a female Willow Emerald perched on the tip of a horsetail by his garden pond at TQ 887334 on August 8th, another record of this very recent colonist.


Willow Emeralds are back!

On 6 September 2018 I reported on 3 Willow Emerald damselflies (including a pair mating) I'd found in the Tillingham valley in Rye, plus notes on the species on the Military Canal up from Appledore where Mary and I had seen one and Michael Howard had censused them earlier. Subsequently, John Luck emailed as follows:
"[Since Patrick Bonham's article on RXWildlife] I feel I should clarify exactly how the species was discovered. Michael Howard ... didn't discover the Willow Emerald colony. It was initially found during my annual survey with Area Ranger, Andrew Dyer on 22 June 2017, just south of Kenardington car park. We were nearing the end of our survey, when I spotted an emerald damselfly perched in a bush. All emerald damselflies are worth a second look, so I alerted Andrew and he took a photo. At the time, we were blissfully unaware that this would turn out to be a Willow Emerald. But, so it proved ... a teneral female, confirming that the species had bred the previous year. At this point, the species aestivates, re-emerging a month or two later.
On 31 July [2017] Andrew and Michael found one near to the original sighting and another in the car park. I joined them on 9 August to further our knowledge on the extent of the population, searching part way along the RMC to the north and south of the car park, finding 12 in all (8 males, 2 females and 2 others) with 6 to the north and 6 to the south, plus oviposition marks in an alder branch.
On Sunday 13 August, my wife and I drove to Appledore to complete the lower section of the NT land and see how far south the species had spread. We found 16 in total, all males, between TQ 96153010 and TQ 97663128 + oviposition marks. Thus, with the 6 individuals to the north of the car park, this meant that the population was a minimum of 22. The males appeared to have a particular liking for perching on dead brambles. Further visits this year [2018] show that the population is now well established and appears to have increased significantly.
I am enclosing Andrew’s photo, which illustrates the increased difficulty of identifying immature dragonflies, particularly females. As can be seen, the pterostigma is colourless, so the brown i.d. colour cannot be utilised. However, the green spike on the main green stripe at the side of the thorax and the green line of the  metapleural suture beneath allow i.d. to be confirmed.
P.S. Further news ... earlier this week, on 10 September [2018], Dave Mitchell and I surveyed the River Brede from Float Farm. The waterside contained little suitable habitat and it was extremely windy. However, we located a female sheltering beside a willow at TQ 88301782 and oviposition marks in several branches of two willows at TQ 88581783 (pic enclosed)."
Today I found a female and one other at last year's mating site in the Borough of Rye, on Rolvendene Farm in the Tillingham valley at TQ 913209. Apologies for the poor photo, taken in breezy conditions with my compact camera at maximum zoom. So they're about already and will remain so into September, one to watch out for!