Saturday, 4 October 2014

Egg Sacs and Willow Emeralds at Rainham Marshes

16th September 2014

Although the main reason for another trip to Rainham Marshes was the hope of photographing some passage migrants, it was fairly quiet and therefore my attention was quickly diverted to reptiles and insects. On the boardwalk close to the cordite stores several fairly small Common Newts were sun-bathing on the warm planks. This one looks as though it may have lost part of its tail at some stage.

The Wasp Spiders are enjoying their best ever season at Rainham with 200 nests found, some a long way away from the traditional site by the Ken Barratt Hide. A few were still hanging on but the main point of intrigue today was the number of egg sacs that were appearing. They are a lot more difficult to spot being suspended high in the grass and normally very well concealed like this one. Each sac measures about 15mm in diameter and contains 400-1400 eggs which hatch the following spring and so the cycle continues. How fascinating is that?

But the highlight today was when I approached the Troll Bridge south of the Barratt Hide and immediately latched on to a male Willow Emerald, the first year they have been recorded at Rainham. While I was watching and photographing the insect with Jerry Hoare, a pair in tandem appeared and proceeded to oviposit in a willow twig. A first for me and what a great way to end the day.

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