On The Border

Friday July 10th

I try to avoid going anywhere on a Friday. all day rush hours are not my thing. To miss such a perfect day though would have nagged at me all weekend, so I decided to have a stroll around Town Common and Ramsdown.

The charming Carol Kirkwood had promised sunny skies and ‘light’ winds, but this wasn’t the case on the Common. Any breeze is exaggerated near the coast, and strengthened by funneling up the Avon and over the unsheltered plain.

I checked along the margins for any perching hawkers, but a little too early to bring forth any prizes, so I crossed the heath to the ponds where there were a fine showing of Black Darters, Small Red and Emerald Damselflies.

(Common) Emerald damselfly - male
(Common) Emerald damselfly – male

Nearly all of the shallow, peaty ponds favoured by the triumvirate are barely more than puddles, but this doesn’t deter their hosts. Even the pool at the far end of the heath is thriving, despite being well within the catchment area of the recent fire.

Black Darter - male
Black Darter – male

There is one deeper pond which retains water in dry times, and this is where most of the over-water action can be observed; with Emperor, Four-spotted Chaser and Common Darter patrolling.

Black Darter (Sympetrum danae) - female
Black Darter (Sympetrum danae) – female

After a comprehensive search of the common I crossed the dual carriageway to Ramsdown, but excepting the deep pool there wasn’t much (else) to be seen, although I did disturb a Brown Hawker in the clearing.

I decided to have another visit to the pond near Ringwood. The reeds were still buzzing with Blue-tailed and Common Blue, and a fine population of Black-tailed Skimmers entertained at the shore.

Black-tailed Skimmer - male
Black-tailed Skimmer – male

Just the one Brown Hawker ephemerally present over water. Still too early for their peak, where any attempts at in-flighters will be better provided for.

Saturday 11th July

Time for another visit to the Avon, this time with Doug in tow. Despite a fabulous, if breezy, day and the presence of three or four Brown Hawkers intermittently showing themselves, photo opportunities were very few – unless you wanted Banded Demoiselles, of which there were plenty.

In fact the only real opportunity we had was an obliging male Scarce Chaser.

Scarce Chaser - male
Scarce Chaser – male

After 3 hours of waiting we decided to call in to Troublefield, which if nothing else gave us further proof that today was one of those seemingly perfect days which are sorely lacking.

I’m convinced dragonflies sense the impending low and bed down. There can be no other explanation for such a sad showing on what should have been a perfect dragonfly day.