A Walk In The Park

Often an expression used for a simple task or an easy time, based upon how relaxing and refreshing ambling around your local green space can – or used to – be. Nowadays – like any other urban environment – you’re more than likely to encounter anti-social behaviour.

Barely 50 metres through the gate of Itchen Valley Nature Reserve I encountered an obnoxious drunk led in the grass, stinking and drinking Tennants Super, who took exception that I didn’t have the time to stop & ‘chat’! This is the very reason why I have no general interest in our urban parks. I’d rather be deep in rural splendour as far as possible from urban alcoholics.

Besides a few early Large Reds, it took a while searching the meadows before I saw any other signs. The nearer I got to the main reserve the more I found. Several Banded Demoiselles – male and female – were seeking shelter from the wind in the long, lush grasses. More were found perched in the reeds lining the channels. I remember these meadows being a hot-spot from my last visit 4 years ago.

The wind was a problem though; not only for the photographer, but also for the weakly-flying tenerals who held on to grassy stems for dear life. Unsurprisingly the highest number were found in the lee of the breeze in the first meadow behind a bank of trees. I wish I knew this sooner – I’d have saved myself a walk.

Banded Demoiselle - male
Banded Demoiselle – male

The numbers may have been reasonable, but this didn’t make it any easier to pin down an individual willing to stay put for more than a few seconds. Progress was further hampered by deep, muddy hollows close to shore threatening to knock me off balance into the deep.

Banded Demoiselle - female
Banded Demoiselle – female

A welcome surprise came in the form of a couple of female Southern Damselflies, the Itchen and Test water meadows holding a few isolated colonies outside of their normal New Forest habitat.

Southern Damselfly - teneral female
Southern Damselfly – teneral female

All this uneven ground meant by the time I reached the main bridge over the river I was just about done for; which was a shame because I had intended to take a different path back to check out some more likely channels, but there’s always another day.

I’ll choose a morning next time…while the drunks are nursing their well-deserved hangovers.

Still – two more species added to my season count, so I mustn’t grumble.