Monday 15th August
There is no doubt in my mind that the Moorland (Common to you nationalists) Hawker is right at the top of my hawker list. Why? Well, here in Hampshire ,despite we are a tad blessed with the New Forest, it defies it’s British name.
Thankfully there are a few strongholds where it thrives. The hills of Wales and Scotland, the moors of North Lincolnshire and, my personal favourite due to being in reach, Priddy Mineries in Somerset.
Ironically I’d had my first sightings here in the New Forest with three males and two females over the course of two days which would no doubt satisfy most observers, but there was no way I would forego a trip to Priddy – especially with our second summer.
Arriving just after 11.00am the hawkers were already patrolling the northern shore and I stopped a while to get some practice with a couple of Moorland and a Brown patrolling the north-eastern corner.
The pool at the entrance had just the one over the reeds some distance from shore; it’s a little later in the season when they’re brave enough to parade in front of picnickers and dog walkers.
A lone Emperor was patrolling half way along the causeway while a very mature Four-spotted Chaser occasionally lifted from his chosen perch. There were more Moorlands and even a Brown at the already occupied fishing stands however my favourite spot is the boggy north-western watershed.
Beyond the shore a Brown Hawker tussled for territory with an Emperor while a couple of Moorland explored the edges for secretive ovipositing females of which I noticed two during my stay. Occasionally a male would shoot out to pick a fight with the Emperor, seemingly just for the fun of it.
Unlike other hawkers the Moorland rarely maintains a constant patrol for long, frequently choosing to fly some distance uphill, a journey you can follow easily as he flies towards the sun.
When they do come in they more or less follow the same path low down and close to shore investigating every nook & cranny. These are the moments I wait for; predicting his path and waiting until he’s close enough to enable maximum detail, although sometimes he can get a little too close.
A such a fine day there were more photographers present than I’ve seen before. Across the pond I could see the familiar blue-shirted figure of Mike Dimery mirroring my rooted stance and intense concentration at his favourite corner.
Mike joined me for a chat and Jerry popped in after a day at the levels with an Osprey, wishing he’d brought the ‘other’ lens.
I should also give a shout out to Nigel Kendall who I completely failed to recognise despite having shown him the Scarce Blue-tailed some years back. My apologies Nigel, your quiet demeanor and my selective memory for faces no doubt to blame.
So a fine day with fabulous weather and more than enough to keep me amused, and some friendly faces for a little sociability.
At least when I took my mind of those hawkers…..