Between The Showers

Saturday 2nd July

Sue & I took a trip to Bentley Wood with a few hopes & wishes. Maybe a Southern or Brown Hawker patrolling the rides and the possibility of some Ruddy Darter at the pond?

The Emperor were certainly in attendance, this female providing the first opportunity of the day feeding on an unfortunate Marbled White as we strolled through the meadow.

Emperor (Anax imperator) - female feeding on Marbled White
Emperor (Anax imperator) – female feeding on Marbled White

In the (very) brief moments the sun made an appearance we had a couple of male and a female Emperor over the pond, a lone Broad-bodies Chaser, a couple of tatty Four-spotted and a few Azure, but by far the most numerous species here today were the Common Emerald.

Common Emerald (Lestes sponsa) - male
Common Emerald (Lestes sponsa) – male

We did notice quite a few teneral Ruddy Darter disappearing out a reach, so there was one off the checklist, and a couple of fresh Common Darter, which was to be expected. We could have done without the couple of heavy showers though!

Despite non-optimum conditions and an over-abundance of Emeralds we did manage another from today’s wish list. A female Brown Hawker was spotted by Sue hawking the meadow. As she dropped to feed Sue called me over and we carefully tried to locate her, but in true Brown Hawker fashion she spotted us first and was up and away towards the treeline.

Then quite unexpectedly she turned, circled several times and dropped again some metres away. Having been given another chance I pushed my stealth to the limits and found her obscured by the grasses.

Brown Hawker (Aeshna grandis) - female
Brown Hawker (Aeshna grandis) – female

With a profile shot (hopefully) in the bag I edged around searching for a gap in the grasses to get those beautifully-fresh amber wings in shot.

Brown Hawker (Aeshna grandis) - female
Brown Hawker (Aeshna grandis) – female

Shot of the day then, and after a few more attempts at the Emeralds we counted our blessings and called it a day.


Tuesday 5th July

It’s been the best part of a month since I visited Bramshill so naturally I was hoping for more than a few surprises. Again far from optimal conditions with mostly light cloud forming a blanket with very brief sunny intervals.

A welcome sight of a Brown Hawker hawking along with an Emperor boded well, but we needed the sun. I deciding to embark on a quest to seek out a pond which has so far eluded me. Worth the effort? Only in the sense of achievement as it’s long been overgrown with reeds to render it almost useless.

A walk along the rides offered tantalising glimpses of Brown Hawker and Emperor but not the hoped-for Southern. At Long Pond it was great to see a tatty old Downy hanging on in there with the usual, but I had to wait until I returned to the ponds for my best opportunity of the day.

Emperor (Anax imperator) - male
Emperor (Anax imperator) – male

Despite a five mile walk the lack of opportunities meant this was one of those rare occasions where Bramshill failed to deliver. Thankfully the Emperor saved the day.