White-letter Hairstreak and Common Blue Butterflies, Southern and Brown Hawker Dragonflies at Baggeridge Country Park!

A return visit to Baggeridge Country Park (a Local Nature Reserve near Dudley in the heart of the Blackcountry) was very much on the `wish-list` after our discovery of this magical reserve on the site of old coal-workings overlooked by the chimney of the local brick-works during a Butterfly Conservation walk last month.

The hope was to see and photograph some dragonflies and I was not to be disappointed. However the first  sighting was of a (very) late White-letter Hairstreak on the Creeping Thistles that grow in profusion on the poor shallow soils of the old spoil-tips! As this was the target species during our first visit (we were not successful then) I was overjoyed to say the least!

White-letter Hairstreak 055b (38)

We then walked slowly towards the pools down the valley looking-out for dragonflies (and more butterflies). Green-veined Whites and Speckled Woods were present but the next key species to be spotted was a resplendent male Southern Hawker resting among the thistles! I was able to take many photographs without the insect flying away - I suspect he was newly emerged. It is always particularly satisfying to be able to `get close` for that head-shot ...

Southern Hawker Dragonfly 055b (121)Southern Hawker Dragonfly 055b (167)

This would have been enough success for one day but on leaving the park towards Himley Hall a female Brown Hawker caught a fly in front of me and then flew to some dead leaves to chew-away in peace! The camouflage was near-perfect so it was lucky that I had seen her land!

Female Brown Hawker 055b (254)

We shall have to re-visit the park-land at Himley Hall (a Capability Brown project) but as it was getting hot and there was still much of Baggeridge to explore we returned (after lunch on a bench by the hall) along the same path towards the old railway line. It was notable that there were now no dragonflies to be seen - do they rest-up in the afternoon? However, Common Blue butterflies were plentiful on our return journey so there was still much to see and enjoy.

Common Blue Butterfly 055b (320)

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