Four Weeks On at Bramshill

Tuesday 9th August

Is it really four weeks since I took a trip to Bramshill? Besides the time factor it seemed to be the ideal choice for the best of the sunshine; for the morning at least.

The first hawker I encountered was a Brown; perched among the gorse until I came into view and then he was off across the trees as usual. I saw two more disappear along hawker alley, which was now alive with Common Darters, a role previously held by the Black-tailed Skimmers, rising before you to return to the gravel track or into the treeline.

It had been a cold morning, and the sun took a while to warm things up. Across the water were the usual Common Blue, Blue-tailed and Red-eyed damselflies; the latter beginning to look a little tired. Nothing larger at this hour.

Common Blue (Enallagma cyathigerum) - pair in-cop
Common Blue (Enallagma cyathigerum) – pair in-cop

I decided to burn some calories checking out the rides and other ponds but didn’t raise any more hawkers until I reached the triangle where a male Southern rose and an Emperor was feeding low along the gorse hedge. A couple more rose from the undergrowth as my boots drew near.

Returning to Long Lake I took a paddle along the shore noticing the water levels had receded significantly from the treeline, but the remaining mosses provided the perfect background for a late Four-spotted Chaser.

Four-spotted Chaser (Libellula quadrimaculata) - male
Four-spotted Chaser (Libellula quadrimaculata) – male

Likewise a Keeled Skimmer.

Keeled Skimmer (Orthetrum coerulescens) - male
Keeled Skimmer (Orthetrum coerulescens) – male

The vibrant green moss was also perfect for showing off a pair of Blue-tailed.

Blue-tailed Damselfly (Ischnura elegans) - pair in-cop
Blue-tailed Damselfly (Ischnura elegans) – pair in-cop

The next welcome surprise was a female Southern Hawker, disturbed from her perch and providing a brief overhead display before frustratingly choosing to perch high in the trees. Shortly after I spotted my first male of the day rise from the gorse and tentatively approach before deciding to put some distance between us.

Even the ponds failed to show an Emperor or indeed anything large today,; the largest candidate being a male Broad-bodied Chaser looking a tad lonely.

Plenty of damsel action among the reeds and rushes though, and Common Darters were either holding territory or leading their mates in tandem to oviposit, but my focus here was the Ruddy which I’ve always found rather tricky to show at their best.

Ruddy Darter (Sympetrum sanguineum) - male
Ruddy Darter (Sympetrum sanguineum) – male

On the way out I had another look for that female Southern to no avail, but I did disturb a male who flew down the track and landed perfectly for just a second. Unfortunately I was miles away so here’s a poor, highly-cropped record shot 😉

Southern Hawker (Aeshna cyanea) - male
Southern Hawker (Aeshna cyanea) – male

Near the gate there was another male hunting in among the ferns, deep in shadow and impossible to capture. I watched for twenty minutes and ran out of energy well before he did 🙂