Saturday 6th August
The recent tech experience had killed my motivation to get out and enjoy myself doing exactly what I should be doing. The problem was where to begin? I needed a day to recharge the batteries, with enough interest and opportunity to keep me busy.
After much discussion on Friday evening we decided to take a trip and having failed to find them a couple of weeks ago we decided to have another go at finding some Willow Emeralds.
A chat with Marc Heath decided upon the venue and we surprisingly arrived on schedule at 10.00am under glorious sunshine. The ditch I’d had my eye on while perusing the map turned out to be the very one where fresh individuals were rising from emergence towards the treeline on the other side of the track.
It was rough going through the dense undergrowth of the steep bank, but if you could stay upright survive the nettles the rewards were plentiful.
Besides the Willow there were plenty of Common Emerald lining the bank which gave you a speed lesson in the major differences between the two species. On one occasion we observed a male Common Emerald grab a female Willow and attempt a pairing, managing to grab her by the neck and spend a little time in tandem before parting.
The majority of the Willows were found along a pathway perched along the treeline, usually in shadow or against the sun, and despite the obvious challenges made for a pleasing environmental study.
Sharing this tree-lined pathway were several immature Migrant Hawkers and a couple of Southern flew through hunting their breakfast. Most of the Willows were perched high and well beyond our reach but occasionally we would find one perched at eye level.
Returning to the bank our attention was diverted by a patrolling Brown Hawker, surprisingly predictable on his chosen patrol and ripe for an interlude of in-flight addiction.
With a pleasing image in the bag we returned to the target species.
Marc had to call it a day around lunch time while I continued for another hour seeking out a willing subject.
After the reasonable bounty of the morning the sightings became fewer, no doubt all the immature individuals had retreated into the shade and safety of the woods, a theory born out by this female I found along a dark & shady path.
After four enjoyable hours we called it a day and headed off for some refreshment before taking a leisurely drive back. Thankfully getting back on the horse was much easier, although I became saddle-sore much sooner than I normally do this far into the season.
Thanks to Marc for his help and hospitality for an enjoyable day, and one to be repeated soon when the adults are on the wing.