A Welcome Return

Friday 12th August

Friday was one of those days that took a long time to get going in more ways than one. An early commitment delayed my start by an hour, and the subsequent journey was hampered by holiday traffic, so it was 11.00am by the time I arrived at Town Common.

Too late for hawker alley on a day like this. They’d all be off feeding. Not one hawker the whole length of the old railway either; nor the returning back track. Where the hell were they all? Not over water as the only patrollers were an Emperor and a bevy of Black Darters, Common Darters, Common Emeralds and a few Azure.

After a check of the clearing, the hidden pond and Hill Pond at Ramsdown I was starting to feel a little disheartened. Only a Black Darter gave me something to engage with.

Black Darter (Sympetrum danae) - male
Black Darter (Sympetrum danae) – male

Back at the clearing there were a couple of Brown Hawkers feeding along the tree line and a Migrant holed up in the gorse.

Migrant Hawker (Aeshna mixta) - immature male
Migrant Hawker (Aeshna mixta) – immature male

I headed towards the small heath pond and spotted a couple of male Moorland Hawkers hunting the area, occasionally coming to blows and, more importantly, checking out the pond from high.

Finally one came in and proceeded to put on a low-level show around this almost-dry waterhole. Just the ticket for this fellow, and just what I’d been waiting for all day.

Moorland Hawker (Aeshna juncea) - male
Moorland Hawker (Aeshna juncea) – male

That’ll do 🙂

Sunday 15th August

On Sunday Sue & I took a drive to Cadnam Common to see how things were going and at first glance the pond didn’t look too promising.

Water levels were down and  filthy, with a deep scum of what I can only describe as silage ruining the usually clear surface. Only a few Common Darters were present along with a few Common Emerald and Small Red. Just as I was about to turn heal in came a reason to stay.

Flying high above the pond and occasionally engaging with the resident Emperor was the unmistakeable sight of a Moorland.

Moorland Hawker (Aeshna juncea) - male
Moorland Hawker (Aeshna juncea) – male

This is usually a rare treat for this pond, and most unusual considering there wasn’t a Southern laying claim. I however did find an immature Southern and Migrant in the gorse during one of the frequent cloudier moments.

When the sun returned so did our Moorland, until he spotted a female we had completely failed to notice. His first two attempts failed but third time lucky and that was my subject gone for half-an-hour.

Thankfully he returned after his conquest and I did my best to grab a sharp shot against the cryptic background of the surface, but it did make for an interesting bokeh.

Moorland Hawker (Aeshna juncea) - male
Moorland Hawker (Aeshna juncea) – male

Despite not managing to get the shot I really wanted I was more than happy they were present here again this season. That’s three males and two females seen within as many days in the New Forest.

Now that’s something to celebrate!