We’ve had a good deal of rain which has replenished the water bodies and all ponds and streams in the New Forest are looking much healthier. Good news indeed, but still the hunt for opportunities are proving a challenge.
My first port of call was Troublefield, just over the county border near Hurn. This is a fabulous water meadow on the banks of the Moors River which has showed promise on a previous visit. It needs a hot and sunny day to bring out the best, and I was there rather early. Still there were a couple of Common Darters and a few Southern Hawkers to be found.
On the way back I called into the pond to be greeted by a lone Common Darter perched and a few more patrolling the water
A few more days of rain and wind during the week prevented further exploration, but Friday looked more promising. Besides I needed an opportunity to try out a pair of wellies. I cannot believe how I’ve managed up to now without such a vital tool. They were ideal for tramping through the sodden heath but their real became apparent at the now full pond. Several Emerald damsels provided the ideal opportunity to use them as intended.
Moving on to Linford I was greeted by a healthy, and in places rather deep, Linford Brook. Again signs of life were acarce, but at least a female Southern Hawker provided a great opportunity to get some close-up shots while she was ovipositing.
The weather forecast for the weekend was promising and rather unexpected for a Bank Holiday. Knowing all roads west would be a nightmare of holiday traffic I decided against the New Forest and instead took Sue to Thursley Common. A wise choice. Barely out of the car we were greeted by a couple of Brown Hawkers and a couple of Downy (or mayve Brilliant Emeralds) patrolling the pond. Further exploration revealed Common Blue, Small Red and Red-eyed Damsels around the margins.
Hawker activity was plentiful so I set up camp on the northern bank and attempted to get a Brown Hawker in flight. These magnificent dragons are a wonder to observe in flight and provide a real challenge with their speed and manouverability. This was the best I could manage.
Next was a patrol of the heath where several male & female Black Darters were observed and a couple gave opportunities for a photograph or two.
Besides Black Darters there were a few very brightly-coloured Male Keeled Skimmers. The boardwalks themselves were festooned with Common Lizards of all shapes, sizes and colours, which was a delight to see.
Back towards the pond and along a ride there was plenty of activity with the enevitable Common Darters and some of the best Hawker activity we’ve witnessed for a while. Southerns, Migrants and Browns were patrolling the ride along with a lone Downy Emerald – a late showing for this species,.
Time was getting on and activity was slowing down, but we did manage to pop into Shortheath Common, near Oakhanger on the way home. The only sighting was of a lone Blue-tailed Damselfly which provided the last photo opportunity of the day.
All in all a cracking day and a fitting end to a more successful week. Here’s hoping the promised good weather will produce some fine results over the next week or so.