A promising, if windy, day prompted me to scout a new location; one I’ve been meaning to visit for a while. Bramshill Plantation is part of the extensive Eversley Forest complex in North Hampshire, which includes Warren Heath, and contains several ponds and lakes worth investigating.
Thankfully there is a suitable parking place enabling close access to the larger lakes in the NE corner, however two of these lakes are set below the surrounding ground level bordered by trees and involve some effort to gain access.
I scoured the perimeter of one of these lakes looking for ways through to the shoreline, finding only a few small sections on the western side. The other lake appeared to offer more options, but I neglected further exploration on this visit in favour of the lake to the south; the short walk in punctuated by decent numbers of Beautiful Demoiselles.
This looked far more promising; wooded and concealed to the south-east and open to the north-west with good perimeter paths offering sunny clearings for feeding. There is also a large open area in the north-west corner with perfect scrubby verges ripe with feeder insects.
On the open section of the lake activity was minimal in the breeze with only a few Four-spotted Chasers braving open water with the hardy Common Blue. Around the margins were Large Red, Azure, Blue-tailed and Red-eyed waiting for the sun to break through before they ventured out.
The small open clearings bordering the northern path played host to many more with Four-spotted Chasers, Black-tailed and Keeled Skimmers resting while a couple of male Emperors hawked for food.
Had it not been for the wind I would probably have stayed put for a few hours, but vowing to return soon I headed for where I knew there would be more shelter.
I immediately headed for the shelter of the reservoirs, hoping there would at least be a little over-water action. Once again it was down to a few hardy species. the waters not yet warmed sufficiently due to being at odds with the now-present sun, leaving the majority in shade.
The causeway played host to a few resting damsels and an immature male Four-spotted Chaser
Along the course of the stream there were good showing of Demoiselles and resting or feeding Keeled, Black-tailed and more Four-spots.
I couldn’t resist a trek through deep mud upwards to the head of the valley, hoping that maybe some Emerald Damselflies and Small Red were on the wing, but if they were they were probably huddled down within the foot-wrenching scrub of the valley floor. Plenty of Keeled Skimmers along the margins though.
After a circuit of the forest rides I returned to the reservoirs where by now there was enough sun exposure to bring out a few male Downy, while back along the stream my passing disturbed a resting immature female Emperor, causing her to circle above a few times before returning to ground a few metres away.
It’s still a tad to early for Warren Heath to come alive, but despite the relatively low numbers there was still a good selection of species to give good sport, and a chance to scout some new terrain this early will offer more time for enjoyment on later visits.