The gate was locked as I pulled up in front of Messingham Sand Quarry Nature Reserve yesterday morning at 6.00 am. Roger's car was parked by the gateway and a quick phone call later we were chatting over the gate; he had arrived 10 minutes previously. We could only assume that the Lincs Wildlife Trust were locking the gate because of vandalism. It was the first time that Roger and I had met up for nearly a year due to Covid restrictions and we had decided on an early expedition looking for dragonflies and damselflies. The weather wasn't encouraging being heavily overcast and very cold. None the less we opted to walk around the reserve to see if we could find and roosting insects. No luck on this score but the air was bursting with bird song. My first reed warblers of the year rattled away and the reed beds seemed to be full of them. Blackcaps, garden warblers and whitethroats were also singing lustily all over the reserve. Cuckoos were calling too. After our first circuit the weather was still awful so we decided to drive on to Crowle Moor to see if we could find any large red damselflies. After a long walk through the peat bogs (Crowle is a part of the Humberhead Peat Levels which have been rescued from industrial peat extraction) we reached the spot where Roger had found them last week. It was still cold enough to find one still roosting but as the sune emerged and it warmed up large numbers appeared. I found a roosting four spotted chaser, one of the large dragons, and we were able to make a good photographic record of it. I love these large dragon flies. They remind me of perspex drones and I love it when watching them close to it's possible to see the abdomen pusating as they breathe. Amazing creatures. We also saw a hairy dragonfly but didn't get and pictures.
Having secured some images at Crowle and the sun having appeared, we decided to return to Messingham. It was now much warmer. Although we saw no large dragonflies we did find quite a few immature azure damselflies and one adult blue-tailed damselfly. Butterflies were more active, especially brimstones, both male and female. The males played hard to get but we did find a couple of females so preoccupied with egg-laying that we were able to get plenty of photographs. Quite a few orange tip butterflies were on the wing and after some patience allowed for some photography. We found one pair where the female was enticing the male to mate by raising the rear of her abdomen to produce pheromones to attract the curious male.
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