Well we were all hoping for a late blast of sunshine before the season ends, and the last week in September provide a little heatwave!
Eager to take advantage, I headed over to Pennington on Wednesday and wasn’t disappointed. Barely through the gate and male Migrants were patrolling the hedgerows with a background of birdsong – something missing from recent visits.
There was a slight breeze, but that didn’t bother the Common Darters, who, true to form, were taking advantage of the warmth to engage in coupling. There were more in cop than singles.
At the far end a welcome sight of a male Southern hawking the edge stopped me in my tracks. Endlessly circling and very curious, I had trouble nailing an in-flight shot due to him flying too near for the long lens to cope.
But I persevered and captured him before he flew off to perch for another opportunity.
There was also a male patrolling the stream along the back. I continued on towards the rides where only a couple of Migrants and a Southern were patrolling.
Back at the pond Paul Winters arrived just in time to witness a pair of male Southerns battling in the corner before the victor continued with his circling.
I joined Paul to check out the pools close by which I previously been unaware of due to them being out of sight from the track and not showing on google earth. Wonderful little shallow pools with a good number of Common Darters and more Migrants than the main pond.
To end the day we called in at Badminston where Paul had spotted a couple of Red-veined Darters that morning, but alas no joy this time – probably due to the wind chill and the sun being in the wrong position.
Still it was a chance to explore a part of the gravel pits I’ve not ventured in since they closed the path a couple of years ago. The going is tough, but the pools along this section look healthy and promising. Just wish I’d found them earlier in the year.
On Thursday I checked in at the pond to find a reasonable amount of activity with the usual partying Common Darters.
There were even a few Black Darters venturing from the safety of the island and a few Emerald Damselflies skimming across the water – with one pair even enjoying a late-stage coupling.
But the real treat was finding no less than 4 male Southern Hawkers holding their own territories in each corner of the pond. Occasionally they would overlap & engage in a brief battle, but for the most part they were happy to remain on their own patch & amuse themselves bothering the CD’s.
I spent a reasonable amount of time with each practicing my in-flighters until I found the one who was most agreeable and positioned perfectly without a distracting background and unflattering light.
By 2.00pm they all seemed to take a rest so I took the opportunity to visit Slufters and Broomy ponds in these rare calm conditions. Slufters was more disappointing than usual with just a few CD’s and the odd Emerald Damsel and Broomy was more of the same.
Being as the weather was still on our side on Friday, Sue took the day off (her birthday) to join me at Christchurch Common for first call. Unfortunately there was only the one Hawker to be seen – a male Migrant on the way out, but the site did provide plenty of Black and a few Common Darters.
As it was close by we called into Troublefield hoping for a hawker frenzy, but were sorely disappointed! We did however witness a female Golden-ringed ovipositing deep down among the reeds, but alas not showing herself long enough for a photo.
So on to the pond to finish where two male Southerns were still holding their respective territories, along with much the same as Thursday. No surprises, but the best we’d seen all day.
On Saturday afternoon we headed over to Pennington again, but were more than disappointed with the lack of activity on such a fine day. The main pond only provided the usual Migrants , one Southern and the reliable Common Darters. At least we did witness a lone Blue-tailed Damselfly.
We decided to move on to those smaller pools where things were much better, Again only Common Darters and Migrants, but in far greater numbers. We even had a mating oair of the latter.
A male Common Darter and a male Migrant Hawker perched beautifully for once and provided my best opportunities of the day.
As I write the good spell of weather continues and no doubt will provide some welcome opportunities for others, but for myself I’m taking time out due to the car playing up. Besides, I’ve had more than enough good opportunities this week.
Of course, if I hear of a missed Common Hawker I shall be kicking the car as well as myself!