Bank Holiday Bonus

On Sunday I took a trip out to Bentley Woods for the Pearl-bordered Fritillary; I didn’t even bother with the ponds. On the way back I called into Cadnam Common to check on progress and it still feels rather sleepy. Surprised I didn’t see any Large Red, but at least I was rewarded with half-a-dozen fresh Broad-bodied Chasers.

Broad-bodied Chaser - immature female
Broad-bodied Chaser – immature female

Still no Four-spotted Chasers yet, so on Bank Holiday Monday I revisited Titchfield Haven – usually a good early site for them. An early start – arriving at 10.00am to make the most of the remaining sun. There was a brisk SE wind spoiling most of the preferred sheltering areas of the pond.

Large Red Damselfly - female feeding
Large Red Damselfly – female feeding

Large Red were by far the most numerous, closely followed by Azure.

Azure Damselfly - Immature female
Azure Damselfly – Immature female

Surprisingly still low numbers of Blue-tailed compared with my first visit this year. Almost as soon as I arrived there was a male Hairy weaving in and out of the pond reeds, my other hope for today. This is the first time this season I have seen activity over the pond, with a few Large Red joining him during the sunnier moments.

After frequently losing sight of my quarry I explored the undergrowth searching for something interesting, and over at the other pond I disturbed a fresh Four-spotted Chaser, losing it as it floated across the channel. Now I knew they were there.

It was while I was using my fingers to gently part the foliage that I spotted my prize of the day, not quite believing what I was seeing. Calmly perched behind some leaves (I need to find the name of the plant) was a male Hairy – quite possibly the one entertaining me earlier.

I snapped a couple of record shots of the head and thorax before (very gently) changing position for a better angle

Hairy Dragonfly - male
Hairy Dragonfly – male

Satisfied with getting my prize I took another wander, hoping to find another Four-apotted. Once again fine-combing the undergrowth I spotted my first Banded Demoiselle of the season; a tad surprised I hadn’t seen one sooner. A Beautiful Blue male who gave me the run-around before I could get a shot I was satisfied with.

Banded Demoiselle - male
Banded Demoiselle – male

While I was going in for another try a Four-spotted Chaser flew over my head and landed on one of the reeds in the pond. An incredibly annoying position, made even more difficult by me plunging thigh-deep into the water.

Four-spotted Chaser - teneral male
Four-spotted Chaser – teneral male

Not the best shot but the only chance I had. As I squelched back to the seat I briefly wondered if it was worth it considering there’ll be swarms of them and far easier to photograph in a few weeks. But that’s not the way it goes early season. This is after all what I love to do.

So another excellent result with 2 new species added to the list for this season, making 11 to date.