Thursday, July 5, 2018

The sap continues to rain down...

Thursday 5th July saw me yet again at the glider club entrance to the Fermyn Woods complex at 8 a.m. for another purple fix. Although windy at this location, moving into Ladywood felt like moving into an oven as the wind was blocked out by the trees at ground level. The first grounding at approximately 08:30 was duly recorded by Mark, up from Portsmouth for the day.

My plan was to search the sallows for females, but there were long hours to negotiate before such activity could be anticipated. The time in between was spent recording male activity, and there are still many to be seen flying circuits before returning to a favourite perch. We were well into double figures by early afternoon.

Going off-piste into the grassy rides around 13:00 hours, the rise in temperature was immediately apparent. Looking up, a male left his lofty perch to see off a Brown Hawker, and then started fisticuffs with a an interloper from the oak opposite, but this aggression did not last. Nothing else was moving. What again was really evident when looking up was the amount of sap falling down like rain, and it appears to be going on all the time. I am not sure if this is a normal occurrence at Fermyn or if it is just a reaction at this time to the hot, dry conditions? I have no idea why Iris will ground here more than at other locations and whether or not this sap rain could be a factor?

I had to curtail my searching in the grassy rides due to the excessive heat. It was early afternoon, and I probably mistimed my searching for finding the Empress at her work. Returning to the junction at the entrance to Ladywood at 13:55, the ab lugenda? circled our bikes twice and was off again in seconds.

This brief visitation did not include settling on the ground, but gave us a tantalising view of an emperor with no white markings that we could discern whilst in flight. We summoned Mark who had perhaps seen this particular insect earlier and in a similar location, but it did not return again after thirty minutes. He had observed the royal colouring, whilst we were not favoured with this vision from our vantage point. I was now content at this point to leave the woods and we duly departed just after 15:00 hours.

Concerning the extraordinary run of hot sunny conditions of the last week or two, I include an image taken from my last visit a couple of days ago, of a male that took refuge from the heat by entering  the hedgerow, as has been observed and described by Matthew at Knepp. He stayed for around ten minutes here before returning to his lofty perch. (I like the green tinge afforded by the sunlight through the leaves and this season's visits to Ladywood have been a magical experience).

1 comment:

Matthew Oates said...

Bill. That sounds like a rain of honey dew - the sticky secretion of tree aphids. It was commonplace in the midsummer of 1976, when aphids and ladybirds abounded, but I haven't seen it since (vestiges in 1989) and am dead jealous...