After the excitement and associated pressure of Whixall Moss I needed to reconnect with odonata without the distractions of being part of a group, no matter how enjoyable the company.

Maybe it’s peer pressure or a higher threshold of satisfaction, but I didn’t feel I performed at my best and came home with a shot of the day. Or maybe I’m being too self critical! No matter, there will always be another chance.

I took a couple of days rest to reflect and calm down before needing to get out on my own on Wednesday, and as I haven’t been for over a week I naturally chose Bramshill. I’m determined to visit at least once a week to get a feel for this magnificent site and compare it to last season, and so far it continues to impress.

I wasn’t blessed with the best conditions on arrival, and checking out the small ponds might have been a tad premature considering the lack of sun, although it was hot and humid. Nothing but a few damsels testing the waters, but I did find a roosting Emperor.

Emperor (Anax Imperator) - male
Emperor (Anax Imperator) – male

Not the most comfortable conditions to embark on a walk, but as over-water activity is minimal in such conditions it made sense to do a little foraging. Hawker Alley didn’t throw up the wished-for perched Downy and the main rides were mostly lacking.

Once I’d reached the other pond things improved with some Blue-tailed and Common Blue decorating the grass fringes, and it was here I encountered a beautifully-fresh and not long emerged male Emperor, resplendent in his immature colours.

Emperor (Anax imperator) - immature male
Emperor (Anax imperator) – immature male

A little further on is a triangular clearing with a small stream running through, a couple of displaying male Banded Demoiselles flew above while down in the scrub were a selection of damsels and another Emperor. I find the surrounding grasses are usually better for photo opportunities.

Banded Demoiselle (Calopteryx splendens) - male
Banded Demoiselle (Calopteryx splendens) – male

The walk back to Long Pond was mostly uneventful and the sun was trying to break through The waterside had come alive with Four-spotted Chasers, a few Downy and a couple of Emperor joining the hundreds of Common Blue, Red-eyed, Large Red and Azure. The tenerals were still rising with most following the updraft into the canopy, but occasionally one would take the nearest option.

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

There were a few more Emperors patrolling with the arrival of a sunny spell, and naturally I had to engage a little.

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

A final check of the small ponds produced mainly Four-spotted Chasers and a selection of damselflies. No Hairy today, which means that they’ve passed their peak but no doubt there will still be a few stragglers around until the end of the month when the Emperor reins supreme and the Brown Hawker will provide more than a welcome challenge.