I apologise in advance for the negative title and content. Just when I thought April couldn’t get any worse, it did. Despite the scattered sightings of Large Red, sprinklings of variety with Blue-tailed, Beautiful Demoiselle, Hairy Dragonfly and our Spring Chasers in various Counties, it’s all been a little quiet here in Hampshire.
This of course is down to the weather. No self-respecting dragonfly is going to emerge into cold & wet conditions, and those which did may have perished in some late frosts. I like to punctuate April with observing and photographing Spring Butterflies but they too have been delayed through unsuitable conditions.
There is of course a positive to take from this. Very soon everything will arrive at once; May being optimal for observing our Spring species, and I can’t wait! A long, satisfying day where time disappears rapidly through sheer diversity and enjoyment should help us forget the past month.
However it may be difficult to forget the sheer destruction carried out at Crockford Stream out of season. Those of you who are familiar with this cracking dragonfly paradise will stare in dismay at the unrecognisable view which greets them. The thicket which divides the key clearing from the road is no longer there. It has been razed to the ground. So too have the long stand of gorse leading up the valley lining the old marl pits.
All of those refuges of shelter have gone in an effort to open out the stream, supposedly to benefit the Southern Damselfly, but I really do think they’ve gone to far. Dragonflies need these trees and areas of scrub to feed and shelter. Their main food insects congregate around these sheltered micro-climates. They are as vital as the open areas used for procreation.
Taking the sledgehammer approach has opened up this once fine area to the elements and you (and the insects) will notice the slightest breeze. You only have to take a walk along Ober Water to realise all of the main activity over water is around the sheltered areas. Although after seeing what they’ve done to Crockford I’m apprehensive about my first Ober foray this season.
Had I not been subject to a darkening of the clouds (reflecting my mood) along with a hail shower I might’ve stayed around a little to document the full effect of this clearance. As it was all I managed was a snapshot with the phone of the section looking north from the stream crossing with what remains of the thicket in the foreground.
Now I’ve had assurances that ‘it will recover’ and ‘this will be beneficial in the long term’ and so may it be, but there’s no denying the experience previously had at Crockford will not be as enjoyable for the foreseeable future.
Now I have that off my chest I can look forward to the bounty our delayed Spring will provide. It can’t all be bad