July 8th- hummingbird hawk-moth, dragonflies and swift diary

Great excitement this morning! If I am working I can rely on Tolly to spot wildlife in the garden and rush in to tell me. This morning he spotted a hummingbird hawk-moth visiting the Verbena bonariensis for nectar. We both enjoyed watching it restlessly exploring the flowers for a couple of minutes before it flew directly north.

We had a walk around Ampleforth lower lake this morning. The sun was out for a while prompting lots of dragonfly and damselfly activity. We saw magnificent emperor and brown hawker dragonflies patrolling the edges. The brown hawker is a favourite insect of mine; their wings seem to glow bronze, especially when backlit and seen against a dark background.  Lots of common damselflies were on the wing and we had good binocular views of red-eyed damselflies on floating vegetation. This is a apparently one of the most Northerly populations of this attractive damselfly.

Crossbills were heard frequently with small groups flying over the lake, undoubtedly part of the recent influx into the country. The largest group numbered at least 28. Siskins were also heard. We have had siskins in the back garden for the last couple of weeks. They too arrived into the UK in great numbers recently. The siskins in our back garden have been feeding in fruit trees taking aphids off the leaves. They are there in good numbers but feed so quietly you would hardly know of their presence.

Swift Diary
No change. Recent weather forecasts seem to show Sunday’s high pressure shifting away quite quickly which makes me far less optimistic about any sustained prospecting activity. Again, no swift activity here save our breeding pair coming and going, occasionally with food for the chicks. I am really missing the swift activity which comes with having younger prospecting birds around. Each day they are not here in July seems very significant because even if the do return they will still leave with the main body of breeding adults in the last few days of July or first few days of August. There are just over three weeks now to enjoy swifts in their gregarious screaming parties. How often we see them during this time is entirely down to the weather and at the moment the forecast is not very promising.

Below. Hummingbird hawk-moth.

Below. Ampleforth Lower Lake- watercolour.

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