A Tale of Two Streams

Wednesday 6th July

I finally struck up the courage to revisit Crockford Stream after witnessing the horrors early in the season. Despite my reservations and protests all I received from the BDS and Natural England was an assurance that all will recover for the better.

In early July you should expect to see a good showing of Golden-ringed, Keeled Skimmers, Beautiful Demoiselles, Southern and Small Red damselflies all vying for territories along the stream.

At the ford this time last season all were present in good numbers. In the channel protected by the small thicket of gorse and heather you should be able to witness Golden-ringed and Keeled Skimmers jostling for position among a few Southern while Beautiful Demoiselles dance around them.

Neither were present today.

The Small Red tend to congregate around one of the many Bog Myrtle bushes a few meters upstream. Not one was seen today. A few metres further is an overhang above a deeper channel where the Southern procreate. Not one was present today.

The heather, which thankfully is still present to the north of the stream played host to many feeding and resting individuals. I only managed to flush just one teneral Keeled Skimmer today.

Disappointed but not surprised I decided to head upstream to a favourite little section which so far remains untouched. It was here I finally saw my first Golden-ringed, rising at my passing to proclaim his territory back and forth along this narrow channel, battling briefly with a passing Emperor and disturbing a few Southern.

Southern Damselfly (Coenagrion mercuriale) - male
Southern Damselfly (Coenagrion mercuriale) – male

A few brief moments of sunshine had raised the temperature enough to hopefully awaken the basin back downstream, but despite a last desperate search I found nothing to engage me any further.

Instead I headed across to Latchmore to see if things were any better, but the heavy watershed recently has rendered the main channel devoid of any action. Reaching the flushes I was eager to see if they could provide a better spectacle but it just wasn’t warm enough to coax the Scarce Blue-tailed from their reverie.

As is usual in such conditions you’re likely to find more damsels hiding out among the heather and grass, and sure enough there was a good selection of male and female Small Red.

Small Red Damselfly (Ceriagrion tenellum) - teneral male
Small Red Damselfly (Ceriagrion tenellum) – teneral male

The lack of immature Scarce Blue-tailed indicated that the main emergence had passed, although I did find one aurantiaca phase female, a couple of mature green females and a few males hunkered down.

Scarce Blue-tailed Damselfly (Ischnura pumilio) - male
Scarce Blue-tailed Damselfly (Ischnura pumilio) – male

A disappointing day then, but not every day is rosy and full of opportunities. That said there should have been more than enough at Crockford to keep me entertained for a few hours, but it’s obvious that the work has effected the odonata populations for this season.

I will pay another visit towards the end of the month to see if there are any improvements. I sincerely hope there are. I need my mind putting to rest. Those of you who are familiar with the delights this stream can bring in July should pay a visit and see the difference for yourselves.