The Way I See Things


Flat lay

I'm calling this a companion piece to yesterday's image, rather than apologising for the fact that it's another female Common Darter. At first glance she appears to be slightly less 'over-mature' than yesterday's - she's only carrying the faintest of red markings - but this isn't a reliable guide: some females develop no red at all as they age, and just turn a duller and duller brown. The amber markings at the bases of the wings are always present in this species, but the more generalised yellow colour you can see here is another sign of age; interestingly, it's most clearly visible towards the outer edges of the wings, which is something I hadn't noticed before.

I'm suffering from a bad cold and cough at the moment (thanks, Baby B!), and I was feverish overnight and slept very badly. Consequently I was sluggish and grumpy today, and my joints had flared, so I had to fight a strong inclination to sit around at home feeling sorry for myself. It was another beautiful day though, and there's no saying how many more of those we might get this autumn, so I forced myself out of the house and into the car.

I started today's wildlife hunt at the Broadway Gravel Pits reserve, but it was a washout. Actually, no - that gives the impression of there having been too much water around, and in fact the opposite was true: the reserve is bone dry, with not so much as a puddle in the area that should be a large pond, and hardly any fungi to be seen. (I should note here that I only saw a few fungi at Trench Wood yesterday, but an expert who was also there has posted photos of several very nice species, so clearly I'm not the best judge of fungus numbers - but Trench was at least damp, in stark contrast to Broadway). I had a brief chat with a couple of guys who came out of the bird hide as I was walking past, and they told me that under normal circumstances this little reserve punches above its weight, but they also said that they've been visiting it regularly for ten or twelve years now, and in the whole of that time this is the driest they've ever seen it. We'll need very significant rain over the next few months, if the pond is to be refilled and the habitat restored to normal.

As I still had plenty of time left on my parking session when I left the Gravel Pits, I walked up into the village for coffee and cake, followed by a highly enjoyable poke around the toy shop on Broadway High Street. It took quite a lot of self-control not to buy anything, but I'm conscious that the Boy Wonder will shortly be needing both Christmas and birthday presents, so I forced myself to think of this a purely a recce.

I was half way home, intending to redeem the buggy side of my day by going on an invert safari around the garden, when I had a sudden impulse to stop in Willersey, and check the village pond to see if there was anyone about. The answer turned out to be: at least half a dozen Common Darters, plus one hawker that was moving too fast against the light for me to identify it. Both male and female Common Darters were using the paving around the edge of the pond, to bask in the sunshine while watching the pond for potential lovers and/or rivals, and several of them allowed me close enough to take my favourite 'flat lay' shot. This female has been picked for stardom above her companions because as well as being cooperative, she demonstrated the best shape and posture.

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