Bank Holiday at Bramshill and Bentley Wood

On Saturday we decided to introduce Doug to the delights of Bramshill Common. We were barely at the pond when he immediately busied himself with a patrolling Downy. The southern shore was alive with tenerals, including Four-spotted Chasers, Black-tailed Skimmers and swarms of Red-eyed and Common Blue.

Common Blue Damselfly (Enallagma cyathigerum) - immature female
Common Blue Damselfly (Enallagma cyathigerum) – immature female

Once I’d managed to coax Doug away from being rooted to his spot, we took a stroll along hawker alley, stopping frequently to check along the shoreline. Plenty of Downy and Four-spotted Chaser battling for supremacy close to shore and every footfall would see another teneral rise to the canopy.

Black-tailed Skimmer (Orthetrum cancellatum) - immature male
Black-tailed Skimmer (Orthetrum cancellatum) – immature male

We took stroll along the main track to the crossroads and had our first glimpse of a male Emperor circling the clearing, shortly followed by another. We watched while we lunched hoping either would perch, but fresh wings and hunger kept them airborne, so I attempted to coax a young Black-tailed Skimmer off of the ground, but he wasn’t having it.

Black-tailed Skimmer (Orthetrum cancellatum) - immature female
Black-tailed Skimmer (Orthetrum cancellatum) – immature male

Back at Long Pond Doug continued with the Downy while I attempting to tackle one of the dozens of male Red-eyed along the fringes. They have to be one of the more frustrating damsels; just when you think you have them in your sights, off they go again.

Red-eyed Damselfly (Erythromma najas) - male
Red-eyed Damselfly (Erythromma najas) – male

Concluding the day with another walk along hawker alley we found a mating pair of Downy perched several meters up a tree.

Downy Emerald (Cordulia aenea) - pair in-cop
Downy Emerald (Cordulia aenea) – pair in-cop

We couldn’t have wished for a better finale, but the weekend wasn’t over yet.

Sue & I returned to Bentley Wood on Sunday, and what a difference a week makes! Barely into the woods and we were greeted by a beautifully-fresh female Emperor who rose at our passing. She circled and took refuge deep in the scrub, so I decided to concentrate on those beautiful fresh eyes.

Emperor (Anax imerator) - immature female
Emperor (Anax imperator) – immature female

At the pond we were treated to a Downy motherlode. What a sight! Up to seven males patrolling with five at any one time, females ovipositing and no less than six pairings. Four of these naturally headed high to the canopy, but the other two chose to perch low in the scrub not far from water. A nightmare to approach and as nervous as paired Emperors, so I couldn’t improve on yesterdays.

The patrolling males were extremely difficult to photograph, wizzing by at great speed without the slightest pause and occasionally engaging in fisticuffs with rivals All very non-aggressive compared to most species.

Downy Emerald (Cordulia aenea) - male in-flight
Downy Emerald (Cordulia aenea) – male in-flight

A little later we had a young male Emperor come in to test his flight muscles.

Emperor (Anax imperator) - male in-flight
Emperor (Anax imperator) – male in-flight

That should keep me going until summer returns.