After The Deluge

Sunday 6th August

Damian Pinguay found a Southern Migrant Hawker female at one of his local reserves and we arranged to meet Steve Covey there in the hope of a sighting. Always a risky venture, but we fancied a drive and a day spent in unfamiliar surroundings with pleasant company was a welcome change.

We arrived before Steve and met another Steve (Birt) on site, a Flickr buddy and Facebook contact. Always a pleasure and the more eyes the better. After our introductions we proceeded to survey the site in the hope of striking lucky.

During a rare sunny moment we noticed a brown female ‘hawker’ prospectively searching for suitable ovipositing sites. Not A. mixta but what? Unfortunately we didn’t get a chance to ID for sure as her visit was brief and elusive.

Steve Covey arrived shortly after and we all kept our eyes peeled until boredom set in and we chose to make the most of any sunny spell by attempting to find a willing subject. If our prize was here, she’ll show herself.

Ruddy Darters always frustrate and amuse me with their teasing chase. When you think you have the blighter pinned down he invariably twitches his head or abdomen just slightly off linear to keep you busy.

Ruddy Darter (Sympetrum sanguineum) - male
Ruddy Darter (Sympetrum sanguineum) – male

There was a male Emperor present on both pools, visits by a female, a few Black-tailed Skimmers with frequent pairings and a late, but undamaged Four-spotted Chaser. It was the sighting of a Small Red-eyed which made the day for Steve C though; a first for this site.

My resident Emperor grabbed a passing Meadow Brown and settled perfectly on a bank-side sapling for my best opportunity of the day.

Emperor (Anax imperator) - male feeding on Meadow Brown
Emperor (Anax imperator) – male feeding on Meadow Brown butterfly

Thursday 10th August

Always a gamble going out on the first sunny day after a period of inclement weather. Still they had to eat, right? So over to Hawker Alley at Ramsdown where a male Southern, a couple of male Brown and countless immature Migrants of both sexes were having a feeding frenzy.

My next sighting was Doug Overton, the first time we’d seen each other since early season. We took a stroll around the ponds before returning and while Doug decided to go over to Blashford Lakes I persevered and attempted to refocus my rusty stealth.

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

For the most part they preferred to perch within the shadows and shade of gorse ruining any chance of isolation and patience was the order of the day, waiting for them to perch more pleasingly and, most importantly, not immediately fly away.

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

Not many Black but quite a few Common Darters, this immature female proving hard to resist.

Common Darter (Sympetrum striolatum) - immature female
Common Darter (Sympetrum striolatum) – immature female

Again not a lot to engage with, but it was a chance to get out, appreciate some sunshine and get back to basics. Summer’s not over yet.