You will be aware of my recent endeavors pinning down this elusive and Brown Hawker – mostly involving missed opportunities and injury. They are renown for being nervous and fly up over the trees as soon as you encounter them. They are also adept at perfectly blending in with the foliage which makes them difficult to spot even when they’re only a couple of feet in front of you. I’ve lost count of the times I’ve seen one magically appear before my eyes only to rapidly disappear into the distance!
However after postponing my search for the best part of a week to concentrate on butterflies, I ventured out again yesterday in the company of friend and fellow enthusiast Doug Overton with the intention of tracking down and hopefully photographing this wonderful beast.
Working as a team certainly had it’s advantages. Barely half an hour in we came across our first one at Ramsdown Forest which, true to form, shot up in front of our eyes. Except this one landed in deep heather only a few metres away. We had a good idea of where it roughly landed, and we both crawled through the heather commando-style hunting for our quarry.
Bingo! There he was – perched in the most difficult of places low down and out of suitable light which made manually focusing difficult. But at least I managed a few shots with the long lens before he became aware of our presence and flew off.
Elated as we both were, I stated that now we’ve had our first opportunity hopefully – like bus’s – a few more would arrive later.
While Ramsdown we also observed several Golden-ringed’s, Emperors, Black Darters and even a few Common Darters
On the way to Alder Gully, we stopped off at the River Stour where we observed another three Brown Hawkers and surprisingly a good population of White-legged Damselflies along the water’s edge. This site deserves further exploration – preferably on a weekday when the local dog walkers and cyclists should be minimal.
Onwards to Alder Gully – site of all previous sightings, frustrations and injuries. Barely 20 metres down the track we spotted four, the latter of which perched not too far away, again low down in deep undergrowth
More commando tactics but this time hampered by Dorset’s notorious gorse we managed to position ourselves perfectly to allow 15 minutes of continous shooting which provided the above opportunity. This time a female. Perfect.
After a full reccie of the site, we returned towards the entrance and had one fly up and land so close it would have provided the best opportunity of all, but the lack of foliage between us and her meant she didn’t stay around for long. So I finished the day with yet another Golden-ringed.
We saw a total of 10 Brown Hawkers that day which left us both extremely satisfied having both had our first chance of capturing one on camera – well, two actually – and a male and female to boot!
Like buses indeed! At least now I can relax and wait for the opportunities to arrive instead of cursing every time one flies out of range.