Unexpected Hat-trick

Saturday 13th June

Despite a dodgy forecast Sue and I visited a private site on Saturday in the hope that those South-westerly winds had brought in some migrants. Besides, it needed a revisit.

We skirted the plateau, hoping to flush out some delights from the grasses and shrubs. Plenty of Common Blue, Azure, Large Red and Blue-tailed damsels, and a few sheltering Four-spotted Chasers.

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

This meadow-like corner also provided our first Common Darters of the season.

Common Darter - teneral female
Common Darter – teneral female

At an open area of the lagoon we had a patrolling male Emperor and a male Hairy – the latter fully at home in this labyrinth of saplings and reeds where he could disappear out of sight at will. In comparison it was much easier to capture the damsels.

Blue-tailed Damselflies - pair in cop
Blue-tailed Damselflies – pair in cop

Thwarted by attempts to find previous entry points, we returned to the plateau. Those productive, ephemeral pools had been replaced this season by long, deep drainage channels, but the SW corner still maintained the lagoon, increasingly over-taken by sapling growth.

One small pool looked to be the most promising spot , and after a showing of a couple each of Black-tailed Skimmers and Four-spotted Chasers, we had an all-to-fleeting glimpse of a male Red-veined Darter engaging in a tussle before shooting off never to be seen again.

I still find these hopeful, needle-in-a-haystack experiences highly frustrating and didn’t have the patience to remain transfixed on this small pool all afternoon. Thankfully just a short distance away was a small area with a good population of Scarce Blue-tailed.

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

A few had been seen by Paul Winters a week back, and indeed have been present on site for a few years, but it was a welcome surprise to find them at this pool. Several male, a mature ‘green’ female, another in transition and finally an immature aurantiaca.

Scarce Blue-tailed Damselfly - immature female (aurantiaca)
Scarce Blue-tailed Damselfly – immature female (aurantiaca)

Following the channel from the small pool and along with the expected triumvirate of Common Blue, Azure and Blue-tailed, I found several more.

Scarce Blue-tailed - male immature blue form
Scarce Blue-tailed – male immature blue form

They appear to have set themselves up a successful little colony here.

Scarce Blue-tailed - male immature blue form
Scarce Blue-tailed – male immature blue form

At another small pool a male Emperor entertained us for a while, joined briefly by a male Hairy and a female who chose to oviposit in the shadowed reeds. Further along in a small, grassy area was another teneral Common Darter. A male this time.

Common Darter - teneral male
Common Darter – teneral male

As there was no further showings of our target at the pool, I took a wander around the site to get a navigational grounding for the season and caught a sight of another male Red-veined along the channel following the central path. Once again he was off before I could even raise the camera.

Thwarted again! But at least I had a couple of sightings, eh? And, let’s face it, adding three species to the season’s count has got to be a successful day!