Emperor Dragonfly - how it would have looked, if it had landed!
(c) 2009 Maurice Gordon
Ruddy Duck Tufted Duck Little Grebe
The weather wasn't too promising today with a very strong wind, and the wildlife fell in line with this originally, but it did improve later. I popped into Tophill Low first, for my closest ever view of a male Ruddy Duck. There were several Tufted Ducks with young broods, and there appeared to be seven immature Common Terns on their island of shale. The other birds of note were Grey Wagtails feeding their young around the complex of buildings near the entrance. Also in this area were plenty of Linnets & Swallows going in-and-out of the deserted buildings. It was 11.30 so time to set off for the afternoon venue, but I was amazed to see a continuous line of traffic on the other side of the carriageway, presumably stretching from Driffield all the way to Leconfield. Driffield Show would have to be pretty good to make such a long wait in the car worthwhile. I was surprised no one seemed to do a u-turn. Anyway, on to a Brandesburton public footpath were one of the first sightings was a fleeting glimpse of an Owl, which disappeared into an upper Barn window. It was dark-plumaged and looked too large for a Little Owl, so was probably a juvenile Tawny Owl. The pair of Great Crested Grebes still had their entire brood of four intact. The strong winds ensured there was no sign of last week's Kingfisher or the 2 juvenile Willow Warblers. The class bravely ventured across a field containing an irate bull, and shortly afterwards we had to retrace our steps, by which time the bull had become even more steaming mad. We outfaced him & although he made a move towards us, we squeezed past without incident. As a reward we encountered a very close-flying Emperor Dragonfly, which seemed to have difficulty finding somewhere sheltered for it to enjoy its meal of a white butterfly. Unbelieveably another white butterfly divebombed the dragonfly until it dropped its catch - less of an emperor, or a dragon, and more of a wimp! Shortly afterwards a Brown Hawker appeared, and these 2 odonata had a skirmish, before the Brown Hawker returned. We were almost back to the beginning of the walk when we had another brief sighting of the owl - again it seemed to be a juvenile Tawny. May be worth checking up on this on my own. On the quiet road outside was a large flock of young Sparrows, but one of the fathers had met its fate under the tyre of a car. It had even spat out its last meal of grain. A fitting symbol of what has been a quite tricky term. Here's hoping for more reliable weather when the wader specials in August take place, and of course the Autumn Term in September.