Unfinished Business

Thursday 17th September

A whole week since I’ve been out; mostly to do with the inclement weather, but partly to do with not wanting to push it. Remember what I said about the first good day after rain? Always a gamble…but I had to get out.

Not a blinder by any means…sunny spells…but better than intervals. First call Town Common for a full traverse. I wanted to know if there were any of the boggy three still on the wing – the Black Darter, Common Emerald and Small Red.

Maybe slightly early? Too cool still? Certainly no hawkers to be seen, but surely the cool-tolerant triumvirate should be around in the grasses and heather? Afraid to say, despite my tenacity, I didn’t find one.

The rains had turned parts of the path into ephemeral pools, and a working party were busy clearing some sections. As I approached Chris Dresh (the Ranger) came to say hello and give an update on the continuing and prospective improvements to the site.

Not a little bothered by the lack of action, more by the encroaching gloom of a black cloud, I wound my way back to the car and hopped the short distance to Ramsdown. I would’ve crossed the A338, but the crossing is out of bounds during the roadworks until next Spring.

Nothing at the first pool…nothing in the clearing…at least the hidden pond had a Southern patrolling during the sunnier moments. One of those unpredictable males who wouldn’t offer an easy shot. Other than that, a couple of Common Emerald (finally!) and male Common Darters.

While the sun hid I climbed the hill to the sunken pond (must find a name…or give it one). The water levels had made it even more difficult to navigate, but at least there was more action. During one sunny spell I even had an old male Emperor hanging on in there – the first I’d seen since Priddy.

Also present were the inevitable Common Darters, Common Emeralds and a lone Small Red. Unfortunately not available for photos. Crossing the heath to the other side I had a Migrant Hawker buzz me for a short while, and down on the mossy bank I finally found a Black Darter.

Black Darter - male
Black Darter – male

The best shot of the day, and at least an opportunity. After searching through the mosses and reeds for some variety I decided to return to the hidden pool to try for that Southern, if he was still about. He was…and he was joined by an adversary. Really annoying when you’re attempting to grab a shot of one when another comes in for a fight.

Southern Hawkers - battling males
Southern Hawkers – battling males

A very small pool this…and very little room for more than one hawker, and after they’d had their little tussle they retreated to their own patrols – one choosing the reeds near the entrance and the other the reeds over to the east. Both too far for satisfaction.

Southern Hawker - male in flight
Southern Hawker – male in flight

And that was it. Disappointing for sure, but not unexpected. Glad to get out though!