Beautiful butterflies and Lackford dragons (dragonflies / damselflies)

small tortoiseshell 

As we move into the middle of summer at Lackford Lakes we enter the time when our smaller creatures become really active around the reserve. This update will focus on our beautiful butterflies and lackford dragons (dragonflies / damselflies) that you can come across during a visit to the reserve in summer.

Starting with those beautiful butterflies.  We are really fortunate to have good numbers of butterflies on the reserve and so far, this year we have seen 23 different types of butterflies on the reserve.  The different shapes and sizes of butterflies means they are a great group to watch.  Then if you look even closer then you will see that they all have different patterns and shapes on their wings.  Just take a look at these two butterflies photographed below and you will see what I mean.

large skipper

large skipper

small tortoiseshell

small tortoiseshell 

It is not just the upper side of butterflies that look amazing they even look great when the close their wings – like this gatekeeper that has just started to be seen on the reserve.

gatekeeper

gatekeeper

We regular survey our butterflies and in the most recent one we had 79 different butterflies of 11 species.  Right now, at Lackford it is worth looking for the following butterflies:  large skipper, small skipper, essex skipper, large white, green-veined white, small copper, brown argus, red admiral, painted lady, small tortoiseshell, comma, meadow brown, gatekeeper and ringlet.

Comma

Comma

ringlet

ringlet

meadow brown

meadow brown

Once you have mastered the butterflies, it is time to look at the dragonflies /damselflies (the dragons) that hunt around our lakes.  These are much trickier than butterflies but it is worth having a go at watching these amazing creatures flying over the water.  As with butterflies, Lackford is really good for dragonflies / damselflies so far we have recorded 15 species of these on the reserve with most still flying around out there.

Damselflies are the delicate little ones that you see – most are blue, but some are red and others are green.  Here is a photo of one of our regular ones – the azure damselfly.

Azure Damselfly

Azure damselfly

The bigger ones are the dragonflies with powerful wings and they seem to know exactly what they are doing – patrolling areas around the reserve.  Take the emperor dragonflies on the centre pool – they are in constant action and they do not leave this pool.  Here is a photo of a female emperor dragonfly.  Other big ones to look out for include brown hawker, migrant hawker and southern hawker.

emperor dragonfly

emperor dragonfly

Slightly smaller are the darters and chasers – these are still dragonflies but you might have more chance seeing them settled on a leaf or reed stem.  Look out for black-tailed skimmer, common darter and the ruddy darter that is photographed here.

ruddy darter

ruddy darter

Tip – use your binoculars to scan around the vegetation on the pools and trails to get much closer views of these amazing butterflies, damselflies and dragonflies that live at Lackford.

Turning to birds briefly.  Our great crested grebes have finally hatched on the slough and they have three young.  Also on the slough it is worth looking in case an odd wader turns up – redshank and lapwing were there today.  In the last few days, hobby have been particularly obvious on the reserve.  Kingfisher wise, we are finding it extremely difficult to find out what they are doing as we are not seeing much of them – the centre pool continues to be best for these.  Keep an eye out for family groups of warblers like reed warbler around the edges of pools.  Lastly, our young swifts are quite big now and the might leave their box from the middle of next week onwards so you might want to visit to see them when you can.