Firstly , apologies for the delayed update. For once I can blame the weather with a little more positivity. I’ve a lot to catch up on, so I’m passing over the quieter days and concentrating on the highlights.
Too many unnecessary ramblings over uneven ground in pursuit of the elusive means it’s time when familiar favourites are necessary to kick back a little. Those who have followed my ramblings should know Ober Water is my favourite of the New Forest streams, and a dragonfly delight in summer.
There are two options to start a ramble – either from Puttles Bridge; a little more challenging for those who don’t wear sensible footwear and best kept for weekdays when the car park can become overflowed with day-picnickers – or Markway Bridge; level, peaceful, and infinitely preferable on weekends.
Both can be circular or linear, and as easy or difficult as you want, however to get the best out of your excursion you must be prepared to cross the stream several times.
Tuesday wasn’t ideal (those gusts were still bothersome) but was blessed with almost continuous sunshine, and this time I chose Puttles Bridge as a starter point; noticing the sunshine had drawn away the usual numbers of car park dragonfly residents.
I neglected the area across the road in favour of the (still very boggy) path following the tree-line until it meets another path at a bridge. The pool by the bridge had a couple of Keeled Skimmers, Four-spotted Chasers and the usual supporting cast of Common Blue and Azure.
The main path continues along the tree-line, but I chose to skirt around the ferns to join the path down to the stream, throwing up a few more Keeled and a couple of Common Darters in my wake.
Crossing the stream into the first meadow produced my first Beautiful Demoiselles and a couple more Keeled dancing around the bog myrtle in this sheltered little bay. Continuing through the heather I spotted a few immature White-legged and (unsurprisingly) more Keeled and across the main track at the second crossing were more of the same.
I usually encounter a Golden-ringed at this crossing, but they had been absent up until this point. Continuing through the boggy area to the next clearing produced my first Small and Large Red, although the meadow had yet to provide it’s peak bounty. Likewise the heather across the stream.
After this third crossing activity was more agreeable with battling male Beautiful, Southern, Large Red and White-legged either in tandem or seeking out a willing mate. For such a delicate looking damselfly those White-legged can certainly get a shift on and the males cover a large area up and down stream in their quest.
At Rhinefield Bridge, the pool was devoid of any action due no doubt to lack of shelter, but across the other side were more of the same, increasing in frequency and numbers further upstream.
At the flush I searched for any signs of Scare Blue-tailed, but if there were any they weren’t visible, only some Common Blue-tailed adding to today’s count. Crossing the stream for the fifth time I followed the bank until I reached another of my favourite spots and stopped for a spot of lunch.
If you sit long enough at this point you can pretty much see all resident species pass through, but for now just more battling Beautiful, Southern, Large Red and White-legged and a few Keeled, but not nearly as many as peak time. Still, there’s plenty of time yet.
Back across Rhinefield Bridge I had my first sighting of a Golden-ringed, a female passing through, stabbing the water looking for a suitably shallow gravel base. Not too long after a male passed through in the other direction looking for his own territory, disturbing a male Broad-bodied Chaser.
A slight deviation on the way back to join the very soggy path bordering Clumbers Inclosure before returning once again the the pool by the bridge where the same cast minus the Four-spotted carried on their endless parade.
A little time left allowed a walk up Silver Stream, but the exposed conditions meant activity was subdued, with only a few hardy souls choosing the deeper channels for lethargic wanderings. There were another three Golden-ringed here though, disturbed at my passing but quick to alight again, albeit in compromising situations
A peaceful and fulfilling day