Hampshire Dragonflies
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Bramshill Warren Heath
Grid Reference SU 78077 58781
Basingstoke Canal

Warren Heath has long been championed as one of north Hampshire’s prime dragonfly locations, but there is a surprising lack of information available through the usual channels. Either there wasn’t any first-hand accounts or those who knew its secrets wanted to keep it to themselves.

I decided to take a look for myself armed with a few grid references for supposedly the key areas. This is centred around a valley in the south of the reserve where a stream flows down from heathland boggy pools to a couple of small reserviors.

The stream itself is host to impressive numbers of Golden-ringed and Beautiful Demoiselles while the heath ponds and scrapes contain one of the highest populations of Keeled Skimmers I've seen outside of the New Forest. Other prime wetland heath species include Common Emerald and Small Red Damselflies.

The reservior pools are home to Four-spotted and Broad-bodied Chasers, Emperor, Southern, Hairy and Brown Hawker, Downy and Brilliant Emeralds with a host of supporting damsels with Red-eyed in particular being plentiful

The forest rides also provide perfect roosting and feeding opportunities with a wealth of invertebrate life including typical summer woodland butterflies with countless Ringlets, Large and Small Skippers, Silver-washed Fritillary and White Admiral.

On one visit we had 22 species of dragonfly in a few hours in mid July. This is a very impressive count for any location and can therefore be included as one of the top dragonfly sites in England.

The only gripes I have are the lack of footpaths and difficult access to some of the prime areas. Seasoned dragonfly observers aware of the dangers of uneven ground, forbidding undergrowth and sometimes treacherous shoreline should still be vigilant, as a wrong footing or trip can result in disaster.

Parking is also a problem and access limited along the eastern fringes, but is possible for the observant. Research your maps well, and take a printout and compass unless you navigate by memory and the sun’s position. The upside of this is the lack of the general public.

Key Species
Southern Hawker Brown Hawker Hairy Dragonfly Emperor Downy Emerald
Brilliant Emerald Golden-ringed Dragonfly Black Darter Common Darter Broad-bodied Chaser
Four-spotted Chaser Keeled Skimmer Black-tailed Skimmer Banded Demoiselle Beautiful Demoiselle
Small Red Azure Common Blue Red-eyed Blue-tailed
Alice Holt Index Basingstoke Canal

All Content   Paul Ritchie 2010