Sunday 18th June
After our tiring experience during Saturday’s heat at Latchmore we needed an afternoon without too much exhaustive foraging, and what better than choosing a single pond.
The usual tourist convoy was heading to the fleshpots of Bournemouth for over-priced ice cream and basking, pale & fat urbanites littering the beach. Thankfully we were able to peel off the M27 just before it ground to a halt and headed inland once more to Bentley Wood.
Once at the pond I did the usual scrub search and at the far end found my first Ruddy Darter of the season amusingly choosing to face me rather than pose sensibly for a shot.
Some of the male Common Emeralds had started to attain the blue pruinescence of maturity and were more active around the margins, joining countless Azure but still not many Blue-tailed. Immature examples still outnumbered the mature.
At the opposite end I came across an immature Ruddy Darter, surprisingly satisfied to settle once he’d found a comfortable perch. Certainly the Ruddy here appear to be more accommodating and don’t disappear off at every footfall.
Thankfully a Downy was still present over the pond and was holding his own and winning against the Four-spotted bully boys. Even the male Emperor retreated at this pocket-rocket’s attitude.
I had another scour around the meadows before returning to my spot; a small bay with a limited viewpoint so I couldn’t see my potential subject coming in. It was also difficult to focus on one individual when shore activity caught my gaze. I couldn’t resist this Azure.
One way or another I was going to bag that Downy and he finally settled down to run his own territory without shooting off for a scrap. Still a challenge to follow, I waited at my little bay until he appeared to the left, giving me just enough time to grab a shot.
Satisfied at last I rose from my little gnome perch and decided to call it a day. The walk back to the car produced our first Marbled White butterfly of the season while the forest rides were alive with Ringlet, Meadow Brown and Silver-washed Fritillary. We even had a passing of a White Admiral but no Purple Emperor on this visit. Still, there’s always next time!