Saturday, 11 July 2015

Hertford Heath Emeralds

One of the things I had intended to do yesterday was visit Hertford Heath, as a number of Scarce Emerald Damselflies had been present-Hertfordshire's first since the late 50's. As Colin wasn't to bothered about a long trip out today he popped over and took me down.
Even at 0900 it was getting rather hot and it was not long before butterflies and dragonflies were being seen. We found a small marshy pool on the west side that still held some water, and we spent a bit of time here. Ruddy Darters seemed to be the most abundant species here, outnumbering the Common Darters with lots of Azure Damsels, a few Large Reds, one Blue Tail, two Emperors and a Black Tailed Skimmer. i and a bit of a problem with the Emeralds Damselflies here, with two or three males seen and a brief view of a large robust female. Colin's best photo showed an Emerald Damselfly, but the few decent shots I got here were of a Scarce Emerald.
Few birds noted, as it is a quiet time of year but a Nuthatch was vocal and six Siskins flew over.
W carried on into Balls Wood targeting butterflies. We already had large numbers of Large and Small Skippers (only checked a few to confirm Essex Skippers), Ringlets, Meadow Browns, some Large Small and Green Veined Whites, Commas, Small Tortoiseshells and a single Holly Blue. A walk around the northern part of the wood produced more of the same, plus one Purple Hairstreak, a few Silver Washed Fritillaries and two White Admirals.
We returned to the heath and spent some time on the old brick ponds. These seemed to be the Emerald stronghold as they were everywhere. Here there were plenty of Emeralds and one pair of Scarce Emeralds posed for us. I cannot say for certain how many Scarce Emeralds were on the reserve but six males and three females is a conservative minimum.

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