After a fine start to July the weather has yet again disappointed with dull, cloudy days and very brief sunny spells. I therefore decided to wait for better weather and concentrated on catching a few more glimpses of the Purple Emperor butterfly before their season ended.

On Saturday 9th I visited Bentley Wood for exactly this purpose and after an early start (6.00am) waited patiently for signs, but even the butterflies were having a lie-in today. I couldn’t resist a brief visit to the ponds and knowing full well there wouldn’t be any odonata around I checked anyway for signs of emergence.

There were a few exuvia present, including this pair of – I presume Southern Hawker – which appeared to have emerged in tandem!

Southern Hawker Exuviae
Southern Hawker Exuvia

For the afternoon Sue & I took a trip to Alice Holt wood for a glimpse of the Purple Emperor and were rewarded with a sighting and photo opportunity. Also on the wing were a couple of Golden-ringed, a female Emperor, a male Black-tailed Skimmer, a male Beautiful Demoiselle and several Common Blue Damsels.

Common Blue Damselfly - Male
Common Blue Damselfly – Male

Sunday was dull & dreary but we did venture out to Pennington late afternoon for an hour or two where among the several Blue-tailed were my first sightings this year of the Small Red-eyed Damsels – a pair in cop.

Small Red-eyed Damselfies - Pair
Small Red-eyed Damselflies – Pair
Blue-tailed Damselfly - Male
Blue-tailed Damselfly – Male

Blue-tailed were still the predominant species with hundreds scattered throughout the foliage

Also on the wing were Black-tailed Skimmers, male and female Emperors and a few Common Darters.

Monday 11th it was off to Alice Holt again and this time the Golden-ringed were patrolling the brambles

Golden-ringed Dragonfly - Male
Golden-ringed Dragonfly – Male
Golden-ringed Dragonfly - Male
Golden-ringed Dragonfly – Male

We did get a sighting of a Purple Emperor, but he chose to ‘mineralize’ on the underside of an electricity transformer! Terrible for photos, which was a shame because he was the first ‘perfect’ male I’ve seen this season.

Wednesday 13th promised sunny skies but as usual there was mostly white cloud. It was 11.00am until the Black-tailed Skimmers took to the water and 11.30am before the first Emperors appeared, including an ovipositing female.

Emperor Dragonfly - Female
Emperor Dragonfly – Female

The only damsels venturing from the shelter of the bank were a few Blue-tailed and a lone male Small Red-eyed, unfortunately too far away for anything more than a poor record shot

Small Red-eyed Damselfly - Male
Small Red-eyed Damselfly – Male

This summer I’ve been a slave to the weather forecast and have planned my trips accordingly. Despite the promises there always seems to be more cloud and anything other than bright sun & warm temperatures just doesn’t deliver. Nevertheless I live in hope that we’ll soon get the weather we deserve…