Having spent the winter longing for the spring, the time to review last season’s efforts made me change my MO this year. My main priorities are seeking out those species I’ve yet to get a photo of, improve on those I have and check out new locations.
I’m also resisting shots if the pose is wrong, the background unattractive or the sun (or subject) is in the wrong place. Not wanting to come home empty handed means I’m looking at my options more.
For instance, I spent a great deal of time just waiting on Tuesday. I spent an hour on my belly immersing myself in the acrobats, fighting and courtship of the Beautiful Demoiselles in one sunny, sheltered patch.
The point is I’m spending more time observing than taking photographs – which can only be beneficial for the latter Perhaps more importantly it can result in a perfect moment.
That perfect moment was hearing what I can only describe as a ‘clunk’ in the reeds about a metre from where I was focused.
I switched my gaze to the area of the strange sound and up popped a fresh & recently emerged Golden-ringed Dragonfly, rising almost vertically out of the reeds before finding it’s wings and soaring off into the distance.
I so wished I had been focusing the camera a metre to the right…but that;s life and here’s some Azures instead.
As everything has exploded at once, I’m having to resist the temptation to visit semi-favourite haunts knowing that I’ll probably get more of the same.
Not that it matters, but the chance of a different species can sway your daily decision, especially when it coincides with the weather.
So on Wednesday, because the New Forest looked unpredictable, I took a chance on Thursley.
Starting at the Moat, I did a full circuit observing what was about noticing a great deal of over-water flight with Four-spotted Chasers and Downy Emeralds.
I’d gone there in the hope of spotting a Brilliant Emerald, but I’m thinking Downy’s were all I got by the appearance and flight pattern. But even they were keeping to the sheltered shadows, so here’s some more Azures!
Along the boardwalks FSC’s were literally swarmimg – to the extent that the sight of a female Broad-bodied was a welcome change.Even among the heather on the way back, FSC’s were the dominent species.
Back at the pond things had started to cool. Not as many dragonflies and all of a sudden there was a prolonged gust of cool wind preceding a very dark cloud.
All life had ceased. Even the dogs had returned at their owners request to the safety and dry environs of the four-wheel drive…except for the Large Reds and Azure, who would be quite happy in a t-shirt and shorts on a Xmas Friday night in Newcastle.
Despite Thursday being a day more suited to butterflies, I did see several immature and female BBC’s scattered throughout Bentley Wood. Couldn’t resist a call in at the pond on the way back just in case there was a RVD paying a visit!
There wasn’t, but despite the cloud & cool conditions there were several BBC’s and FSC’s of both sexes battling, breeding and ovipositing. These were joined by male & female Downy Emeralds, the latter ovipositing near the gorse, so that’s another first!
While failing in the light to grab a Downy in-flighter, I concentrated on the ovipositing BBC, only to end up with this
The ‘pond’ has dried out considerably in a week, with an ever-decreasing water level. Looking at weather in the near future though it should be fine!
On Friday I went hunting specifically for Scarce Chacer and White-legged Damselflies. At Ramsdown there were plenty of the former, but due to the recent ‘haircut’ the only perches on offer were low down in what remains of the heather.
Also a bonus to see 4 Golden-ringed and 4 Emperors – all female – take off in front of my stride. All of the latter flew way out of sight, and the GR were nervous, flying several metres before landing low down in the heather.
As I was over that way, I relented and paid a visit to Troublefield. They’ve moved the cows to the other field! Maybe we will have some summer foliage after all.
The south pasture has dried out considerably, but wellies are still a must as there are some deep & dark pockets underfoot. Several Beautiful and Banded Demoiselles on site, along with Large Red, Azure and Blue-tailed Damsels.
Despite a full reciie of the whole site, only larger game was a solitary immature male Scarce Chaser. Yet I did notice among the reeds a newly-emerged (I’m thinking) Beautiful Demoiselle
Next stop Canford Magna, a pictureque and accessable site with excellent populations of White-legged Damsels and Banded Demoiselles, conveniently populating the bank grasses offering decent photo opportunities.
Perhaps the highlight of the day was the sheer joy of being immersed in thousands of Banded Demoiselles along the banks of the River Stour. A few noteworthy patches threw up 100’s at a time. More like the rising of the mayflies….just stop and observe!
We were all wondering how long this gorgeous spell of weather would last, and as May turns to June the near forecast is decidedly cloudier and cooler with rain on its way.
Sunday proved fickle and unfriendly, with the briefest of sunny spells and an irritating & persistant wind.
Sheltered spots were hard to find for humans, but the reeds provided enough cover for swarms of Blue-tailed Damsels to congregate and mate instead of flying.
Other damsels found lurking were Common Blue,Azure, Large Red and Beautful Demoiselles. Out on the water the hardiest were patrolling – the Red-eyed wasn’t going to let a stiff breeze spoil the day.
Larger prey seen that day were a teneral Black-tailed Skimmer holed up in the foliage
A lone male Hairy Dragonfly – the first I’ve seen this year at Pennington – was doing a circuit of the pond, and a playful Downy Emerald – the first I’ve ever seen at this site – providing the best entertainment.
The way home passed Crockford, and it would have been remiss to not take a look. Male & female Broad-bodied Chasers were taking shelter along with a teneral Keeled Skimmer
Among the Bog Myrtle were a few Beautiful’s, some Large Red, Azure and thankfully some Southern Damselflies to round off the day…