Banded demoiselle (male)
Highlights of our July field meeting at the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust Potteric Carr reserve included a female marsh harrier hunting over Huxter Well Marsh; such a regular sight that it did little to disturb the herons, little egrets, lapwings, little grebes and great-crested grebes on the lagoon.
We spent most of our morning in Loversall Field where the dragonfly ponds attracted banded demoiselle, emerald, common blue and blue-tailed damselflies and four-spotted chaser and common darter dragonflies but the star of the show was a male emperor dragonfly, Britain’s largest species.
Brimstone butterfly (female)
Skippers and ringlets were the most frequently seen butterflies but we also recorded commas, meadow browns, single male and female brimstones and a red admiral.
Four-banded longhorn beetles (Leptura quadrifasciata)
In addition to four-banded longhorn beetles we saw soldier beetles, Rhagonycha fulva and click beetle. Whirligigs were gyrating on the surface of the ponds, with great-crested newts coming to the surface amongst the pondweed.
Wild flowers included yellow-wort and this large-flowered hemp-nettle growing in the wild flower meadow area by the visitor centre.
A leafy stemmed hawkweed, common valerian, ribbed melilot and hare’s-foot clover.
Field meeting, 14 August 2016: The Ashfields, between Heath village and the River Calder (OS ref. SE 353 206), were settlement lagoons for the pulverised fuel ash from Wakefield power station which was decommissioned in 1991. In the past thirty or forty years the process of natural succession has transformed them from silty open ground to orchid meadow and then from scrub to woodland.
Two longhorn beetles, Stranglia maculata, rest on umbels of hogweed and in a sheltered clearings and there are a few speckled wood butterflies but the most common and persistent insect is the mosquito.
The Half Moon (SE 358 208) between Heath and Kirkthorpe is a cut-off meander of the Calder. A hundred or more whirligig beetles gyrate in a group on the surface close to the bank. Branched bur-reed grows amongst sweet-flag.
Amber snail, probably Succinea putris.
Amber snails graze on the sweet-flag. These snails are unable to fully retract into their shells. Their lower tentacles are much reduced.