And Now My Watch Has Ended

At least for this season. I always get the blues around now, knowing it will be at least 6 months until Spring returns. I do miss them; perhaps more this year than previously because I can’t help feeling we were robbed of a good month.

A lousy June impacted the rest of the season in a way that didn’t allow it to quite catch up. Not just dragonflies. Butterflies have really suffered this year. Even the common species are way down , which may be cyclical and to be expected, or may well be down to more sinister progressions.

I don’t like to delve too deeply into the politics of conservation; I prefer to leave that to the experts. I do however believe that we should take responsibility on a local level rather than blame a worldwide trend. In other words don’t start blaming forces out of your immediate control as the cause of species decline you sip your G & T’s on your concrete patio looking over your pristine lawn.

I did have a fabulous season this year. A chance to step back even further, slow down even more and appreciate the wonders at an intimate level. The chase became a prowl, patience replaced the rush, even the quietest moments were cherished.

It’s a pleasant feeling to be able to walk rather than run. Take it all in. Breathe the air, feel the wind. Relish the moment the clouds recede and the warmth explodes in a confusion of life. Better than any firework display I’ve ever seen, although wouldn’t it be wonderful to have a spectacular closing ceremony before winter sets in?

In Spring we have a dress rehearsal with Large Red, Azure, Blue-tailed and Red-eyed before the true opening ceremony around May and a festival of treats throughout summer. By the time we get to Autumn the last to leave the party are the stragglers.

There are still a few Migrant and Southern Hawkers around, a bevy of Common Darters and reports still coming in of Willow Emerald.

The latter are certainly one of the success stories this year, having colonised yet more places with Buckinghamshire having their first sightings this year. Hampshire next season? It’ll be nice to have them appear on my own patch, offering a reason to extend the season further. In the meantime let us celebrate their continued success.

We can also celebrate the influx of a few Vagrant Emperor too – from the Scilly Isles to Orkney! As with all migrants a sighting relies on more luck than planning, which is how I prefer it. The excitement of a rare is always enhanced when you’re not expecting it.

So here’s to next season. I have a gut feeling it will be a good one. In the meantime I’ll leave you with a short film from Aaron Cook who I was pleased to finally meet up with again in July.

In Search of the Brilliant Emerald Dragonfly with Paul Ritchie from Aaron Cook on Vimeo.