Summer at Longham Lakes

Hobby (Alan Pearce)

Hobby, Longham Lakes, July 2012 (Alan Pearce)

The months of July and August can be a little quiet on an inland patch, but here anyway are the summer sightings:

31st August: 1 female Redstart and 1 Wheatear present today (Chris Parnell).

30th August: Relatively quiet Constant Effort Site (CES) ringing session with morning with just 18 new birds caught and 14 retraps (birds caught here previously). 5 Common Whitethroats were encouraging, and the 3 new Willow Warblers brings the year’s total to 60. Excitingly, one Sedge Warbler was caught that had previously been ringed in France – details to follow one day. (Roger Peart).

28th August: 1 late Swift over the lakes today along with small numbers of Swallow, House Martin and Sand Martin. No migrants but at least 50 Tufted Ducklings. Also Sparrowhawk, Little Egret, 3 Lapwings and juvenile Little Grebes still surviving in the scrape. (Chris Parnell)

26th August: Little Gull this morning, feeding generally towards the middle of the Longham Reservoir South. Also, 3x Lapwing on larger island. The Tufted Duck with up  to 24 ducklings still present and, around the lake, a further 7 smaller broods of from 2-5. (Alan Pearce).

22nd August: The ringing session produced 36 new individuals and 14 retraps (individuals already ringed here), including 7 more Willow Warblers. We have now had more than double the total of Willows from all of last year. (Roger Peart)

21st August: A morning visit to Longham Reservoir South produced 1 juvenile Cuckoo (same bird as August 12th?), a few Pochard and 1 Kingfisher (Lorne Bissell and Dave Cooke).

20th August: George Green reports a very welcome “sudden late burst of Tufted Duck
breeding with c8 broods involving c50 chicks.  One female seemed to have 23
chicks! Otherwise 2 juvenile Hobbies and obvious influx of 9 Shoveler.”

19th August: Trevor Thorpe and Robin Trundle conducted the monthly Wetland Bird Survey (WEBS) count and noted, among other things, the first 2 Lapwing of this autumn on the large island. Also Tufted Duck ducklings in broods of 11,6,4 and 18. Also
superb views of 2 Hobby (1 adult,1 juvenile) perched in tree tops to the south of
LR South.

17th August: Ringing today produced 30 new birds, including 16 Willow Warblers (49 from last three sessions) and a Sedge Warbler control (bird ringed elsewhere). (Roger Peart)

16th August: 1 juvenile Little Gull appeared. Still Hobby about (Alan Pearce, Terry Elborn, Mike Cross).

12th August: The Lesser Emperor dragonfly was seen again intermittently today, by Steve Smith and Lorne and Lauren Bissell.

In Steve Smith’s words: “Settled down to watch the SE corner as that seemed on the the more sheltered parts of the lake. Nothing in the first 45 mins, but reasonable numbers of
Red-eyed Damselflies to distract me. After L & L left, I popped back to the
car to grab the scope to get better views of the Red-eyed Damselflies. Nice
views but couldn’t find any Small Red-eyed Damselflies. Was just thinking of
heading off about 17:50 when the Lesser Emperor belted into the SE corner, had a
fight with one of the resident Emperors and belted back along the causeway for
100m. Annoyingly brief views. 5 mins later it was back & slightly longer
flight views. Saw it better on the next 2 flight views coming along from the
cente of the causeway into the corner & up to the fishing office. All times
moving fast & not settling.”

Watching for the Lesser Emperor, all these observers also managed to see an extremely confiding juvenile Cuckoo near the visitor centre. This is the first juvenile ever seen at Longham since records began in 2002. Among the various other wildlife seen was a Common Frog.

10th August: The Lesser Emperor was seen again in the morning. Out of interest, the addition of 3 species of Odonata yesterday bring the total recorded at Longham Lakes to 18. A complete list is as follows:

  • Banded Demoiselle   Calopteryx virgo
  • Large Red Damselfly   Pyrrhosoma nymphula
  • White-legged Damselfly   Platycnemis pennipes
  • Azure Damselfly   Coenagrion puella
  • Common Blue Damselfly   Enallagma cyathigerum
  • Blue-tailed Damselfly   Ischnura elegans
  • Red-eyed Damselfly   Erythromma najas
  • Small Red-eyed Damselfly   Erythromma viridulum
  • Migrant Hawker   Aeshna mixta
  • Southern Hawker   Aeshna cyanea
  • Brown Hawker   Aeshna grandis
  • Emperor Dragonfly   Anax imperator
  • Lesser Emperor   Anax parthenope
  • Scarce Chaser   Libellula fulva
  • Black-tailed Skimmer   Orthetrum cancellatum
  • Keeled Skimmer   Orthetrum coerulescens
  • Common Darter   Sympetrum striolatum
  • Red-veined Darter   Sympetrum fonscolombii

Dragonfly buffs will see that several very common species are missing from this list. The site could do with some attention from interested dragonfly enthusiasts.

9th August: An exciting day at Longham Lakes. In George Green’s words:

“During my visits to Longham Lakes I have been rather disappointed at the apparent scarcity of damsels and dragons.  My visit today has changed my mind…………

“First I saw what was either a LESSER or VAGRANT EMPEROR in the SE corner of the North Lake.  I assume it was most likely to be a Lesser Emperor but I
couldn’t pin down the colour of the eyes!  I did notice yellowish stripes on the
side the upper thorax and possibly the eyes.  Unfortunately it disappeared after
about 3 minutes and I couldn’t recolate it in the next 30 minutes.  I plan to
return this pm to see whether I can relocate it.  While looking for the Lesser/Vagrant Emperor, I noticed some damselflies with red eyes.  I spent some time checking them and although most were the commoner Red-eyed Damselfly there were a few SMALL RED-EYED DAMSELFLIES.  I appreciate this is not as rare as it used to be, but I’m uncertain to its status in Dorset.

pm update: I returned to Longham this pm and managed a brief but better flight view
confirming the LESSER EMPEROR (green eyes clearly seen + wrap around blue at top
of abdomen).  Unfortunately it remained very elusive with only one confirmed and
2 possible sightings in 2 hours!  Again I saw it in the SE corner of the North

On the bird front: 2 Common Sandpipers, pair of Common Terns, latish Swift and 3 Raven. In the morning Roger Peart undertook a ringing session on the usual Settling Marsh site.

4th August: Chris Parnell recorded a Little Grebe with 3 young on the small shallow lagoon on the south end of LR South.

30th July: A ringing session this morning caught 37 new birds. Remarkably, no less than 18 of these were Willow Warblers (the species doesn’t breed here, so all of these were young birds dispersing). Another highlight was a Treecreeper and a Hobby flew overhead calling (Roger Peart).

Exciting news came in the form of a recovery. A young female Blackcap ringed at Longham last September was retrapped on 3rd May this year on Lundy Island, Devon.

27th July: An extra ringing session this morning produced 57 birds, including 37 new ones, and of these 3 were adult Garden Warblers. Roger Peart comments: “Looking at the figures it appears that although this year’s totals compare well with 2011 (exc Whitethroat which is well down) it is the juvs which are in short supply – about 50% down on the equivalent date last year. Either the breeding season has been a real disaster due to the weather or they have delayed breeding – it will be interesting to see if juv numbers pick up in the next few weeks”.

23rd July: 1 Egyptian Goose, 1 Mandarin, 2+ Common Sandpiper, 2 Common Tern, 1 Lesser Whitethroat (George Green)

20th July: George Green recorded 1 Egyptian Goose, 1 Common Tern and 1 Common Sandpiper in the morning,

Bullfinch (Roger Peart)

Bullfinch, Longham Lakes, July 2012 (Roger Peart)

18th July:Ringing at the Longham Lakes CES (Constant Effort Site) produced the first Bullfinch caught here, along with various warblers and tits. Roger Peart comments that  “Surprisingly [despite the poor summer] numbers caught to this date are quite comparable (and in some cases better) than last year. The only two species significantly worse are Whitethroat  (10 as compared to 21 in 2011) and Chiff (18 as compared to 25) but  the latter is due to that one high number on visit 8 last year. Reed Warblers are just about the same (70+4 pulli as compared to 72)”

Hobby (Alan Pearce)

Hobby, Longham Lakes, July 2012 (Alan Pearce)

9th July: 3-4 Common Terns and 2 Common Sandpipers.(Alan Pearce)

8th July: 2 Hobbies present in south-west corner.

4th July: “I visited Longham late morning during the drizzle and had 8 Common Sandpipers (flock of 5 and a single on the smaller lake and 2 singles on the larger lake). Also 100+ Swifts over the lakes but nothing else of note.” (Kevin Lane) “A stroll around Longham after the latest deluge this afternoon produced a Common Sandpiper and good views of a Hobby hunting insects along the NW bank of Longham Reservoir South.” (Alan Pearce). “A walk in the evening sun around Longham Lakes produced an Egyptian Goose, Hobby, Little Ringed Plover (island at north end of South Lake) and 2+ Common Sandpipers. Also lots of Swifts.” (George Green)

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