Out Of My Comfort Zone

After a blissful day sailing around Poole Harbour on Tuesday I was raring to go again on Wednesday, but fate decided as I’d had such a fine day previously I needed a little stress to reset the balance.

The chance to venture further afield decided my options and I headed for Esher Common. The long, boring slog up the M3 at far too quick a pace after being used to 40 mph maximums down delightful country lanes rattled me somewhat, and the lack of action at Black Pond further blackened my mood.

Don’t get me wrong, there were several Four-spotted Chasers and Black-tailed Skimmers providing a show, and a couple of fly-bys from a Downy Emerald. An male Emperor circumnavigated the small island and a female flew in the oviposit. No Brilliants, but in all honesty the weather had taken a turn with increasing cloud cover and a relentless wind!

I couldn’t believe the sun had disappeared!

I decided to circumnavigate the pond and search the heaths, which did at least provide a pair of Black-tailed Skimmers in cop.

Black-tailed Skimmers - pair in cop
Black-tailed Skimmers – pair in cop

One more session at the corner before jacking it in and moving on to Thursley Common. At least I felt more comfortable there. Unfortunately the cloud persisted and the Moat Pond had only one Downy patrolling. Oh, and a Grass Snake swimming from one shore to another.

Of more interest was the boggy corner, where several damsels were holed up against the cooling breeze., including this immature male White-legged.

White-legged Damselfly - immature male
White-legged Damselfly – immature male

A walk around the heath threw up several Emerald Damselflies and my first Black Darters of the year.

Black Darter - teneral female
Black Darter – teneral female

Consolation at least for what turned out to be a disappointing day.

Latchmore Brook

Anther cracking day on Monday, and an ideal time to revisit Latchmore Brook My early arrival (9.30am) meant it might be a while before some action, but this worry was soon put to rest with the disturbance of 2 Brown Hawkers among the ferns leading down to Latchmore Shade.

It goes without saying they were up and away beyond the treeline…

Shortly afterwards I spotted my first male Scarce Blue-tailed at the first flush, but didn’t see any at the second. Across the water both flushes had several males and a few females and there were even a couple within the main stream.

On arrival at the upper flushes I caught sight of another early bird and was pleased to bump into Steve Cham, busy himself searching out SBT’s.

While waiting for a decent opportunity over water I busied myself among the heather and fern where a pair of Small Red were in cop.

Small Red Damselflies - pair in cop
Small Red Damselflies – pair in cop

We scoured the flushes, looking in places I wouldn’t normally consider looking, finding a good population of males within the boggier, shallow areas.

Scarce Blue-tailed Damselfly - male
Scarce Blue-tailed Damselfly – male

In another channel were more males and a few females, including one ovipositing.

While we were actively scouring the heather borders, two gentlemen arrived armed with printouts of some of my NF guides. I’d like to take this opportunity to say hello and hope you found Christchurch/Town Common and had a fruitful day dragon-flying.

It’s reassuring to know that my guides are proving useful by visitors unfamiliar with the area. In my opinion there is no substitute for local knowledge and I appreciate any chance of help I get when searching unfamiliar locations.

On the way back downstream I found a simply stunning teneral female in one of the stream-side flushes.

Scarce Blue-tailed Damselfly - teneral female
Scarce Blue-tailed Damselfly – teneral female

Further along I took advantage of a captive Emperor to practice different focal lengths for in-flighters.

Emperor Dragonfly - male in-flight
Emperor Dragonfly – male in-flight

Not bad for 270mm

After a walk back to the car to replenish supplies, I decided to do another round in search of Golden-ringed, a species which I’d failed to see up until this point. I had my first sighting at the stream leading down from Gypsy Hollows. In the heat of the afternoon he appeared to seek out a shady resting spot, which didn’t make it easy for a photo.

Golden-ringed Dragonfly - male
Golden-ringed Dragonfly – male

Back downstream I noticed a few more passing, and further along an Emperor obligingly perched close by.

Emperor Dragonfly - male
Emperor Dragonfly – male

Quite simply another fabulous day at Latchmore.