Cloudy Afternoon Delights

Titchfield Haven

There has to be a masochistic trait somewhere in me to attempt to find, let alone photograph, odonata on a day like today (Tuesday 3rd June). Perhaps it’s there to balance out the sadist? Of course it could simply be boredom.

I read somewhere that this is week 23, which I must admit is something I’d rather not think about. Why quantify everything when you should just sit back, relax and enjoy the summer? We’ve waited long enough for it so why wish it away?

I guess it did touch a nerve though…and seeing this week’s weather forecast prompted me to grab any sunshine I could. Despite the forecast showing heavy showers, there was at least a hope of a sunny spell or two during the afternoon.

When I arrived at the shore the wind was gusting at well over the stated 15mph ‘average’. The only people taking advantage were a couple flying kites! This put the dampers on hoping to find any resting or hawking Emperors along the paths. Still, it was a south-westerly, right? It will be sheltered at the pond.

My eyes were immediately drawn to the recent ‘shave’ of a (unnecessarily wide) pathway around the pond. I wonder how many damsels perished? Quite a few I should imagine, as the remaining foliage was rather sparse of life.

There were just enough Azure, Blue-tailed and Large Red to keep me interested, and the occasional glimpse of a male Banded Demoiselles. At least two Hairy males began their ceaseless weaving in & out of the reeds once the first sunny spell appeared, but alarmingly not one sign of a Four-spotted Chaser – or a hoped-for male Emperor.

Further finger-tip searches through the other side of the path didn’t reveal anything larger either, so I had a coffee before relentlessly circuiting the pond looking for a perfect moment.

Azure Damselfly - immature female
Azure Damselfly – immature female

Too add insult to injury the cuttings from the recent shave had been pushed against the margins, forcing back the natural growth angle and forming untidy holes, the damsels preferring to take to the trees to find a safe perch.

Whilst sat on the bench having another coffee I noticed a male Hairy was hawking barely 6 inches above the main track, possibly in search of a perched female rather than seeking out lunch. He flew back and forth at this height for a good three minutes before disappearing around the corner.

Back at the other side I noticed he, or another, was doing exactly the same along the shaven scar, and took rest right in front of my eyes.

Hairy Dragonfly - male
Hairy Dragonfly – male

I really must scan slowly ahead when I’m walking the path, as perched right in front of me was a female Hairy, who flew off before I had a chance to raise the camera. I wonder if the male(s) had caught the scent of her presence?

After this (clumsy) disappointment I continued peering through the green hoping one of the colourful female Blue-tailed would offer an unobstructed view. Despite the low numbers all immature colour forms were present, but by now the sun had left and the only one offering a worthy angle was this beautiful violacea.

Blue-tailed Damselfly - immature female (violacea)
Blue-tailed Damselfly – immature female (violacea)

Slim pickings but plenty to keep me occupied to the extent that one of the wardens appeared reminding me they close at 5.00pm!