Still A Bit Quiet Out There

Saturday 29th April

After a week of miserable weather, where the best option would’ve been to travel to Somerset and binge on damsels and a possible Hairy, I couldn’t spend another day in waiting. The forecast for Bramshill looked reasonable on Friday, but soon changed into indecision – something I decided wasn’t going to cut it. We’re going…it’s been nearly a fortnight.

It was overcast on arrival, and pretty much stayed that way for the rest of the afternoon with a few fleeting, but welcome, glimpses of sunshine. Hard work; the ponds, unsurprisingly, produced zilch – except Jeff (Geoff?) whom I’d met previously here, among other places.

We took a stroll along the south shore of Long Lake expecting to find some tenerals rising, but it was a little too cool and still cloudy. Our saviour was an immature female Common Blue giving me much amusement playing hide and seek behind her chosen perch.

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

On our way back around Jeff mentioned he’d just seen a Red-eyed, and thankfully we found him in the same spot; for once staying put and allowing me to achieve a decent angle.

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

That’s more like it! Species number four this season filled me with renewed hope as we continued exploring Long Lake, but even the scrub pockets were lacking today. So too were the central ponds. Not even a Large Red to be found.

By the time we returned to the main track the sun finally decided to put in an brief appearance, and with it the welcome sight of not one, but two Downy Emeralds flying high along the treeline, hunting before the cloud reappeared. Species number five. Magic!

We did eventually find a couple of Large Red as we headed back down hawker alley. Just the two?

Large Red Damselfly (Pyrrhosoma nymphula) - immature male
Large Red Damselfly (Pyrrhosoma nymphula) – immature male

Even the best places have their quiet days. Just prior to this I came across a young Buzzard sat in the shallows. First time I’ve seen a Buzzard taking a bath. Nice surprise though!

Sunday 30th April

The weather forecast had already decided we weren’t going anywhere today, but as I woke reasonably early I decided to grab what sun there was by revisiting Durley Mill. A thorough search of the river bank eventually produced three Beautiful Demoiselles, and the still cool and very windy conditions helped with pinning down an obliging male.

Beautiful Demoiselle (Calopteryx virgo) - male
Beautiful Demoiselle (Calopteryx virgo) – male

I did say I’d make a return visit, and will no doubt make another over the next month, when they can be seen in greater numbers decorating the old railway path, their shimmering beauty complimenting the dappled light of this wooded river valley.

As I write the rest of the Bank Holiday weekend is typically dreary but at least there’s some rain which we desperately need. It’s way too dry out there, and the plants needs watering!